Italy Enters Tornatore's Big-Budget Baaria for Oscars

by Anne Thompson
September 29, 2009 6:26 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
The Italian government's decision to submit Giuseppe Tornatore's $35.5 million period epic Baaria for the foreign film Oscar is already kicking up a fuss. 53-year-old Tornatore's tribute to his Sicilian hometown spans three generations, from the 1930s to the present, from the rise of Fascism through World War II and its aftermath. Among the most expensive Italian films ever made, utilizing 35,000 Tunisian extras, the picture was the first Italian film to open the Venice Film Festival in two decades. Tornatore already won the Oscar in 1998, for Cinema Paradiso. The deadline for countries to submit their films is October 1. IndieWIRE is tracking submissions to date.

"This is an outrage," asserts one festival programmer, who thinks that Marco Bellocchio's Vincere, the story of Mussolini's secret lover and their son, would have made a better choice. (That film was selected by the trifecta of film fests in Telluride, Toronto and New York.) "Evidently political pressures forced the Italians to give it to Tonatorre's big budget bust. People who saw it in Venice couldn't believe how bad it was. The selection system needs to change."

Here's the lede of Variety's review:

Overblown in every sense, “Baaria,” Giuseppe Tornatore’s multi-decade evocation of life in the Sicilian town of Bagheria (“Baaria” in the local dialect) boasts large sets and extras by the thousands, but the vet helmer seems to have forgotten how to develop a scene, let alone a character. Awash in phony nostalgia, cheap sentimentalism and puffed-up orchestrations, the pic could lure in locals with an advertising blitz, but offshore prospects don’t look good.

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More: Awards, Oscars

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  • Julia Pacetti | September 30, 2009 8:00 AMReply

    I think Tornatore won the Oscar for Cinema Paradiso in 1990, not 1998, though it does seem like yesterday.

  • Andrea Navarria | September 29, 2009 10:58 AMReply

    I do not agree with on epoint. I'm only a boy who lives in Catania, Sicily, just closed to Bagheria, where the film is set. I watched the movie and i simply think that in Italy we've never made some movie like Baarìa.
    It is so beautiful, so realistic and so well represented that after you watch it you just want to watch it again, it's impossible forget all the characters of the movie, all the stories, it's impossible to stop thinking about the meaning of the movie, its significance, it's tribute to Sicily, love, dreaming, disillusion, melancony.
    I just watched it and i want to see it again and again.
    And the music by the Maestro Morricone is really wonderful like ever!
    So i just think that the Anica commission chose the best they could have chosen.

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