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Giorgio Diritti’s biopic “Hidden Away,” about crazed primitivist painter Antonio Ligabue, was the big winner at Italy’s 66th David di Donatello Awards, the country’s top film prizes.

The Davids were held with an in-person ceremony aired from two venues amid a strong spirit of restart as Italian movie theaters gradually begin to reopen.

Hidden Away,” which was the frontrunner with 15 nominations, scored seven statuettes including best picture, director and actor honors won by Elio Germano who tackles “the fiendishly difficult role” of the self-taught artist “with customary gusto,” as Variety critic Jay Weissberg noted in his review.

The best actress statuette went to Sophia Loren for her role as Madame Rosa, a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor, in Netflix Original “The Life Ahead,” directed by her son Edoardo Ponti. The Italian icon’s return to the big screen after a decade had been snubbed by the Oscars earlier this year. Loren tour de force perf was instead warmly saluted by her compatriots who also gave her a Lifetime Achievement David.

“It’s hard to believe the first time I received a David was more than 60 years ago,” a visibly moved Loren, 86, said on stage after receiving a standing ovation. “But this evening it seems like the first time again, though the emotion is even greater,” she added. Loren also noted she was sharing the prize with her 12-year-old Senegalese co-star Ibrahima Gueye whom she called “a wonderful boy and a great talent.”

Though, as usual, women directors went empty handed, Susanna Nicchiarelli’s “Miss Marx,” a biopic of Karl Marx’s proto-feminist daughter Eleanor which had tallied 11 noms, won the best producer David. That prize went to indie shingle Vivo Film, jointly headed by Marta Donzelli and Gregorio Paonessa. “Miss Marx” also scored statuettes for best score and costume design.

In the leadup to the event Piera Detassis, who heads the Italian Film Academy that runs the awards, pointed out that a woman has never won a best director David in the prize’s 66-year history. This year was no exception.

However, a woman did win the best editor David, which went to Esmeralda Calabria for her work on dark drama “Bad Tales” by the D’Innocenzo Brothers, a top contender which went otherwise largely empty-handed. 

For social distancing reasons, the televised David ceremony was held simultaneously in Rome’s Fabrizio Frizzi TV studios and in the Italian capital’s main opera house, with nominees from all categories in attendance.

The prizes kicked off with pop star Laura Pausini performing “Io Sì” (Seen), written by Diane Warren and nominated in the original song category as the theme song of “The Life Ahead.” It was interspersed by tributes to late great composer Ennio Morricone, who died last year. An orchestra conducted by the maestro’s son Andrea Morricone performed  his “Cinema Paradiso” aria and “Deborah’s Theme” from “Once Upon a Time in America.”

First-time director honors went to Pietro Castellitto’s dark comedy “The Predators” about two very different Roman families who collide following a seemingly banal incident.

The best documentary David went to Alex Infascelli’s “My Name is Francesco Totti” about Italian soccer icon Francesco Totti.

The best foreign film prize went to “1917” by Sam Mendes.

Here’s the complete list of 2021 David Awards winners:

PICTURE

“Hidden Away,” Giorgio Diritti

DIRECTOR

Giorgio Diritti, “Hidden Away”

DEBUT DIRECTOR

Pietro Castellitto, “The Predators”

SCREENPLAY

Mattia Torre, “Figli”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Marco Pettenello, Gianni Di Gregorio “Lontano Lontano”

PRODUCER

Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa “Miss Marx”

ACTRESS

Sophia Loren, “The Life Ahead”

ACTOR

Elio Germano, “Hidden Away”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Matilda De Angelis, “The Incredible Story of Rose Island”

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Fabrizio Bentivoglio, “The Incredible Story of Rose Island”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Matteo Cocco, “Hidden Away”

EDITING

Esmeralda Calabria, “Bad Tales”

DOCUMENTARY

Alex Infascelli, “My Name is Francesco Totti”

SCORE

Gatto Ciliegia Contro Il Grande Freddo, Downtown Boys, “Miss Marx”

ORIGINAL SONG

Luca Medici, Antonio Iammarino, “Immigrato”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Ludovica Ferrario, Alessandra Mura, Paola Zamagni, “Hidden Away”

COSTUME DESIGN

Massimo Cantini Parrini “Miss Marx”

MAKEUP ARTIST

Luigi Ciminelli, Andrea Leanza, Federica Castelli, “Hammamet”

HAIR ARTIST

Aldo Signoretti, “Hidden Away”

DIGITAL EFFECTS

Stefano Leoni, Elisabetta Rocca, Massimiliano Battista, “The Incredible Story of Rose Island”

SOUND

Carlo Missidenti, Filippo Too, Luca Leprotti, Marco Biscarini, Francesco Tumminello, “Hidden Away”

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Tolo Tolo,” Luca Medici

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“1917,” Sam Mendes

CAREER DAVID

Sophia Loren

SPECIAL DAVID

Sandra Milo

SPECIAL DAVID

Diego Abatantuono

SPECIAL DAVID

Monica Bellucci