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Italy Picks Paolo Virzi’s ‘Human Capital’ As Its Foreign Oscar Contender

Paolo Virzi’s stylish economic crisis murder mystery “Human Capital” is Italy’s candidate for the foreign-language Academy Award race.

“Capital” transposes U.S. novelist Stephen Amidon’s eponymous novel about capitalist greed from Connecticut to Italy’s wealthy region of Brianza, near Milan. Pic has been a hit at the local box office scoring around $7.5 million via Rai Cinema’s 01 Distribuzione.

It will be released in the U.S. via Film Movement, which snapped it up right before its North American preem at the Tribeca Film Festival where it won the best actress nod for Valeria Bruni Tedeschi for her role as the unhappy neurotic wife of a hedge-fund bigwig.

A character-driven thriller, which is also a class critique drama, “Capital” revolves around two families from different social classes who become entangled after a cyclist is bumped off a road by an SUV in a hit and run on the night before Christmas eve, following a party.

Pic is an Italy/France co-production between emerging Italo shingle Indiana Productions and Gaul’s Manny Films.

In Italy “Capital” has scooped seven David awards, the country’s top film nods, including key categories such as best picture, screenplay, male and female supporting actors, editing, and an actress nod for Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. It split top honours at the Davids with Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” which won last year’s foreign-language Oscar.

Pic has been widely sold internationally by Gaul’s Bac Films.

The Italian Oscar selection committee included helmers Gianni Amelio and Gabriele Salvatores, Warner Brothers Italy topper Barbara Salabe, and Variety’s Italy and Middle East Correspondent Nick Vivarelli.

The committee in a statement noted that their choice was “particularly difficult this year.” They revealed that during voting their seven pic field was narrowed down to three films which were Francesco Munzi’s potent Mafia drama “Dark Souls,” which competed in Venice, Alice Rohrwacher’s “The Wonders,” which took a top nod at Cannes, and “Human Capital” which, in the end, prevailed.

After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approves this year’s proposed foreign-language Oscar contenders, a select committee will whittle the submissions down to a short list of nine titles. Another committee then selects the five nominations to be announced Jan. 15. The Oscars will be held Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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