Film community elated over victory of 'Caesar' at Berlin fest

Rome–Italy’s film community is ecstatic over the Berlin victory of directorial duo Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s prison-set “Caesar Must Die,” which is racking up a slew of sales while also marking the country’s first Golden Bear in 21-years.

Produced by Grazia Volpi with financing from RAI Cinema, the low-budget semi-docu is shot in Rome’s maximum-security Rebibbia slammer where murderers and mafiosi rehearse and perform Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

RAI Trade has now sold “Caesar” to more than twenty territories, including to the U.S., where Adopt Films will distribute, to France (Bellissima), Spain (Golem), and Australia (Palace).

The powerful prison pic, which is mostly in black-and-white, will go out theatrically in Italy on March 2 via Sacher Film, owned by helmer Nanni Moretti, the upcoming Cannes fest jury prexy who jetted to Berlin to celebrate.

“We did not think we would be back in a festival competition, after so many prizes,” said Vittorio Taviani upon receiving the nod. “But this film is so particular that we wanted it to have a chance to reach as many spectators as possible.”

For the Taviani’s, who are both in their early 80’s, the Berlin Bear is the biggest nod since “Padre Padrone” won the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 1982.

“Italy is back to winning in Berlin with a film on a difficult theme, very heartfelt, using the language of great cinema, like only our best auteurs are capable of,” enthused RAI Cinema topper Paolo Del Brocco.

The last time Italy won the Berlinale’s top honours was in 1991, when Marco Ferreri scopped the Golden Bear home for “House of Smiles.”

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