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Cannes Competition Title ‘The Traitor’ by Marco Bellocchio Is Italy’s Oscar Contender

Marco Bellocchio The Traitor Cannes
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition entry “The Traitor,” which follows the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence, is Italy’s candidate for the Oscar for international feature film.

The drama, which Sony Pictures Classics will release in the U.S., was selected out of a roster of five titles by a committee convened by the Italian motion picture association, ANICA.

The other top contender was Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden,” which recently won prizes in Venice and Toronto and has been acquired for the U.S. by Kino Lorber.

In “The Traitor,” Pierfrancesco Favino stars as Tommaso Buscetta, who in 1984 decided to start cooperating with Italian and, later, American prosecutors after a war within Cosa Nostra caused the killing of members of his family. He turned against the Corleonesi faction in the first major betrayal within Cosa Nostra’s senior ranks. Brazilian star Maria Fernanda Candido plays his third wife, Maria Cristina de Almeida Guimaraes, the daughter of an upper-crust Brazilian lawyer, who played an important part in her husband’s decision to join the witness protection program.

Budgeted at roughly $12 million, “The Traitor” is a co-production between Italy’s IBC Movie and Kavac Film with Rai Cinema, France’s Ad Vitam Production, Germany’s Match Factory Productions and Brazil’s Gullane.

After launching from Cannes, “The Traitor” had a nice run at the Italian box office, where it scored more than $5 million via Rai Cinema’s 01 Distribution unit.

The Match Factory has closed deals on “The Traitor” for most of the world. Sony Pictures Classics has rights for North and Latin America, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand; Ad Vitam will release it in France in November; and Road Pictures will release it in China, just to name a few of the film’s distributors in more than 20 territories.

Veteran auteur Bellocchio’s vast body of work spans four decades, starting with “Fists in the Pockets” (1965), and includes black comedy “In the Name of the Father,” (1971), erotic psychodrama “Devil in the Flesh” (1986), political drama “Good Morning, Night” (2003), and euthanasia-themed “Dormant Beauty,” (2012).

“The Traitor,” which sees Bellocchio working with the biggest budget of his career, is considered his most mainstream work.