ROME — Gabriele Mainetti’s offbeat superhero movie “They Call Me Jeeg,” a fresh riff on formulaic Hollywood franchises and on a 1970 Japanese cartoon series, was the big winner at Italy’s 60th David di Donatello Awards, the country’s top film nods, scooping seven statuettes including for best debut director, producer, actress, actor, and supporting female and male thesps.
The best picture prize went to Paolo Genovese’s high-concept dramedy “Perfect Strangers.” “Strangers,” which is about a dangerous game played with cell phones, is the only Italian film unspooling at the Tribeca Film Festival. “Strangers,” which has done boffo biz locally, also took the best screenplay nod.
Matteo Garrone won the best director nod for the English-language horror/fantasy “Tale of Tales,” which also won in the cinematography, production design, costume design, makeup and hair categories.
“I’m lucky that Jeeg was not eligible for best director,” Garrone quipped as soon as he got on stage.
Since “Jeeg” is a first work, it was not eligible in the best director category, under David rules.
“Jeeg,” which Mainetti also produced, is about a two-bit criminal loser who stumbles upon his powers and learns to care about humanity thanks to a traumatized woman who is convinced he’s the Japanese manga character Steel Jeeg. Sleeper hit has scored a strong roughly $4 million locally after eight weeks via Lucky Red, and is still on release.
The David for best documentary went to Alex Infascelli’s “S is for Stanley,” about Emilio D’Alessandro, an Italian immigrant who went from being an unknown London taxi driver and aspiring Formula 1 racer to Kubrick’s chauffeur and personal assistant.
Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” took the prize for foreign film outside the European Union, while the nod for EU pic went to this year’s foreign-Oscar winner “Son of Saul” from Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes.
This edition marks a symbolic shift with the Davids produced and aired by Murdoch-owned paybox Sky, rather than by pubcaster RAI, which has always handled the awards in the past. The smoother-than-usual ceremony was presented professionally by local “X-Factor” host Alessandro Cattelan.
Sky, which earlier today announced its first pan-European movie deal with Sony Pictures, is ramping up to become a key player in Italy’s film industry where it is mulling the launch of a theatrical distribution arm.
Meanwhile Italian box office is up 24% in the first quarter of 2016 with Italian films accounting for a whopping 46% of the local market, albeit largely thanks to smash comic hit “Quo Vado.”
Recently deceased director Ettore Scola was remembered during the ceremony with a clip of his Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni-starrer “A Special Day,” and a tribute by young actor/director Pierfrancesco Diliberto, also known as PIF.
Diva Gina Lollobrigida and venerable auteur duo the Taviani Brothers were honored with Special Davids earlier in the day by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.
Here’s the complete list of David Awards winners:
“Perfect Strangers,” Paolo Genovese
Matteo Garrone “Tale of Tales”
Gabriele Mainetti, “They Call Me Jeeg”
Filippo Bologna, Paolo Costella, Paolo Genovese, Paola Mammini, Rolando Ravello for “Perfect Strangers”
Gabriele Mainetti for “The Call Me Jeeg”
Ilenia Pastorelli, “They Call Me Jeeg”
Claudio Sanatamaria “They Call Me Jeeg”
Antonia Truppo “They Call Me Jeeg”
Luca Marinelli, “They Call Me Jeeg”
Peter Suschitzky “Tale of Tales”
Andrea Maguolo (with the assistance of Federico Conforti) “They Call Me Jeeg”
SCORE David Lang “Youth”
ORIGINAL SONG “Simple Song #3” composed by David Lang, performed by Sumi Jo
Dimitri Capuani, Alessia Anfuso “Tale of Tales”
Massimo Cantini Parrini “Tale of Tales”
Gino Tamannini “Tale of Tales”
Francesco Pegoretti “Tale of Tales”
SOUND Angelo Bonanni, “Don’t Be Bad”
DIGITAL EFFECTS Makinarium, “Tale of Tales”
EUROPEAN UNION PICTURE
“Son of Saul,” Laszlo Nemes
FOREIGN FILM OUTSIDE THE E.U.
“Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg
“Bellissima,” Alessandro Capitani
“The Correspondence,” Giuseppe Tornatore