Tornatore pic defeats Bellocchio's 'Vincere'

MILAN — Giuseppe Tornatore’s big-budget Sicilian epic “Baaria” has triumphed in the race to become Italy’s candidate for the foreign-language Oscar.

Anica, the Italian motion picture association, announced Tuesday the pic had beaten four other competitors, including Fascist-era drama “Vincere,” to fly the flag for Italy.

“Baaria,” which recently opened the Venice Film Fest, depicts sweeping social changes in the eponymous Sicilian village, where Tornatore himself grew up, over several generations. It has been described as his most ambitious work since “Cinema Paradiso,” which won the Academy Award for foreign-language film in 1989.

“Baaria,” which cost $37 million to make, is one of the biggest-budget Italian pics for years. It was produced by Medusa.

But the pic has received mixed reviews, with accusations of heavy-handed sentimentality detracting from plaudits Tornatore won for ambitious filmmaking.

In contrast, Marco Bellocchio’s “Vincere,” which was its main rival in the fight to have a shot at the Oscar, won consistently strong notices from international crix.

The closing date for submissions to the foreign-language category is Thursday.

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