Piera Detassis, who heads the Italian Film Academy that runs the David Awards, is no longer anxious about how the no-frills ceremony for the country’s top prizes will play out.
Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, Detassis had been “tormented” about whether to go forward with the prizes, originally scheduled for April 3. But now that it’s been decided, in tandem with pubcaster RAI, to hold them on May 8, with no red carpet, no live audience, with live web platform hookups conducted by star host Carlo Conti in a studio, she’s just “curious to see how it goes,” she says.
“It will be an experiment…to see how much emotion we can transmit with this technology,” says Detassis. The 97-minute Davids ceremony is about half as long as the average Oscars one.
What this year’s Davids won’t be, she says, is a “celebration”. Detassis doesn’t like that word “because it seems to refer to something in the past,” whereas now is the time to underline the Italian film industry’s new impetus. “Because of what we are going through there is a resurgence of national pride, so probably the stories we know how to tell will become even more interesting,” she says.
A look at the roster of best first-time director nominees is encouraging since their films have all shined. The five nominees are: “5 Is the Perfect Number,” a stylish Neapolitan noir directed by graphic novelist Igort and starring Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) that’s made a splash after launching from Venice; Rome-set interracial romance “Bangla” by Phaim Bhuiyan that’s travelled widely; Soccer dramedy “The Champion,” by Leonardo D’Agostini, which did decent biz at home, won several Silver Ribbon prizes from Italy’s film journalists’ union, and has sold to France; “The Immortal,” a film prequel to the hit TV series “Gomorrah,” that’s had a great home theatrical run; and “Sole,” a love story intertwined with baby trafficking that’s won kudos for director Carlo Sironi launching last year from Venice and Toronto (Sironi is among Variety’s 10 European Directors to Watch).
One regret Detassis has regarding the roster is that the 2020 Davids nominees are all men. “It’s a year in which the narratives are very masculine-centric,” she says. “It’s clear that Italy is still a country that doesn’t know how to recount feminine stories in a strong way; that doesn’t produce or select them.”
“I’ve been going up against a brick wall here,” adds Detassis, who last year overhauled the inner workings of the prizes to give them more female representation. “The picture is clear: This year’s Davids tell us that we need to do more.”
Another, more marginal, aspect that displeases Detassis is that during this year’s Davids ceremony she won’t be able to have hot Korean helmer Bong Joon-ho – whose multiple Oscar-winning “Parasite” is also the winner of this year’s foreign-language David – duet with veteran Italian pop star Gianni Morandi whose 1960s love song “In ginocchio da te” features in a key “Parasite” scene.
“We were all dreaming of having Gianni Morandi sing on stage with Bong,” she says. “Now I know that will not be possible.”