Italy Picks Berlin Fest Winner ‘Fire at Sea’ as Its Oscar Contender

ROME — Italy has selected Gianfranco Rosi’s refugee-crisis-themed documentary, “Fire at Sea,” as its candidate for the foreign-language Oscar.

The timely pic set on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa, which thousands of mostly African refugees have been risking their lives to reach, won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear earlier this year.

Rosi also won the Golden Lion in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival for his previous documentary, “Sacro GRA.”

Co-produced by Italy’s Rai Cinema, Istituto Luce, and Stemal Entertainment with Arte France Cinema, “Fire at Sea” has been widely sold around the world by Paris-based Doc & Film Intl. Kino Lorber is releasing it theatrically in the U.S.

“Fire” is not the only documentary being submitted for consideration in the foreign-language Oscar derby. Ukraine has submitted Roman Bondarchuk’s documentary “Ukranian Sheriffs.”

Rosi’s film is certainly Italy’s most high-profile picture to emerge on the festival circuit so far in 2016. No Italian films made the cut for Cannes competition this year, and those in the Venice competition were below par.

The standout Italian movie at the local box office has been smash hit “Quo Vado,” featuring comic sensation Checco Zalone, which earned 65 million euros ($73 million) at the box office, making it Italy’s all-time top homegrown hit. But “Quo Vado” is not exportable.

Italy last won a foreign-language Academy Award in 2014 with Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” which marked its 11th foreign-language Oscar and consolidated the country’s status as the world’s winner of the most statuettes in that category.

Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 24.



Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Film News Roundup: Rob Schneider Wins SAG-AFTRA National Board Seat

    In today’s film news roundup, Rob Schneider wins a SAG-AFTRA board seat; “Badland,” “Sorry We Missed You” and “Extracurricular” find homes; and “The Shawshank Redemption” gets a re-release.  SAG-AFTRA Rob Schneider has won a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Schneider won a four-year term [...]

  • This photo shows actor David Oyelowo

    David Oyelowo Joins George Clooney in 'Good Morning, Midnight' Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    David Oyelowo is in final negotiations to join George Clooney in Netflix’s untitled adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s 2016 novel “Good Morning, Midnight,” sources tell Variety. Felicity Jones and Kyle Chandler are also on board, with Clooney set to helm the pic — his first feature film directing gig since 2017’s “Suburbicon.” “The Revenant” screenwriter Mark [...]

  • Disney Delays 'Cruella,' 'Woman in the

    Disney Delays 'Cruella,' 'Woman in the Window'

    Disney is shaking up its release calendar, delaying its live action “Cruella” until Memorial Day 2021 and pushing Fox 2000 drama “The Woman in the Window” to 2020. “Cruella,” starring Emma Stone, is based on the classic “101 Dalmatians” villain Cruella de Vil. The revisit to Disney’s animated classic was originally set to hit theaters [...]

  • Spider-Man Could Leave the Marvel Cinematic

    Spider-Man Could Leave MCU if Disney, Sony Can't Reach Financing Deal

    Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have hit an impasse on new financing terms for upcoming Spider-Man movies, sources have told Variety. If a deal cannot be reached, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will not produce future Spider-Man films, effectively removing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Reps for Disney, Marvel and Sony [...]

  • Australia Makes Progress on Gender Equality

    Australia Makes Progress on Gender Equality in Film and TV

    Screen Australia, Australia’s federal film and TV funding body, has made sufficient progress in furthering gender equality that it has set more ambitious targets. The organization has exceeded its long-term Gender Matters key performance indicator, with 56% of projects receiving production funding having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women, based [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content