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Caesar Must Die gets Italy's Oscar nod

Taviani brothers' film won top prize in Berlin

Caesar Must Die gets Italy's Oscar nod

(ANSA) - Rome, September 26 - 'Cesare Deve Morire' (Caesar Must Die), an unusual take on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar acted by real mobsters in a notorious Rome high-security prison, has been picked as Italy's candidate for the 2013 best foreign film Oscar. The movie, by the veteran Italian filmmaking brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, is a stark but sometimes humorous study of mafiosi, some of them serving life for multiple murder, getting to grips with the Bard. 'We're happy, and it's only the start of a beautiful journey,' the octogenarian directors told reporters after the announcement. 'There's a long way to go,' they said as they boarded a flight to the New York Film Festival. In a 60-year career the Tavianis, aged 81 and 82, have gained critical acclaim with films like Padrone Padrone (Father And Master), which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1977, La Notte di San Lorenzo (The Night of The Shooting Stars), which claimed second prize at Cannes in 1982, Kaos (1984), Good Morning Babylon (1987) and Fiorile (1993). The Tavianis beat out nine other candidates on the short list, including Cannes Jury Prize winner Reality by Matteo Garrone and euthanasia drama Bella Addormentata (Sleeping Beauty) by veteran auteur Marco Bellocchio, which was rapturously received by Italian critics in Venice but snubbed by the jury that saw the right-to-die polemic as possessing a provincial rather than universal message. In Cesare Deve Morire, the Tavianis coaxed strong performances from the inmates according to their unorthodox style in which the brothers direct alternate scenes. The film has got a generally favourable critical reception, although it has not been widely reviewed. Screen International critic Lee Marshall said 'what gives Caesar Must Die real heft and resonance is the way the directors use the Shakespearian text, the prison setting, and the rehearsal process to blur the boundaries between drama and reality and to turn the Bard's political tragedy into a film that makes resonant points about brotherhood, longing, regret and the pain of incarceration'. Slant magazine's Chris Adam said: 'the film has an unerring interest in faces, skin and bodies, from the hardened pudginess of Giovanni Arcuri, as Caesar, to the melancholic, scruffy, yet alert visage of Salvatore Striano, as Brutus. 'In Striano's performance especially, the Tavianis strike at the very heart of the cathartic, possessing passion that art and artifice can stir in even the most forgotten and regretful of citizens'. Time Out London's Chris Cabin said: 'The film is entirely characteristic of the Tavianis in that it is a witty cautionary tale of failed idealism, revolutionary communal action, endless cyclical Utopianism and the value and concomitant cost of a commitment to art. As one inmate confides upon returning to his routine existence after the exhilaration of a rapturously received performance, 'Ever since I discovered art, this cell has truly become a prison'. 'Even at this stage in their lives and careers, the Tavianis remain deeply aware of such contradictions and paradoxes, and it's this that makes 'Caesar Must Die' so humane, intelligent and affecting'. Over the years, a total of 27 Italian films have been officially nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film, second only to France. With 13 winners, Italy has taken home the award more than any other country, though it has not won it since 1999, when Roberto Benigni's La Vita E' Bella (Life Is Beautiful) won the prize. The last time an Italian film was selected as a finalist was in 2005, when La bestia nel cuore (The Beast in the Heart) by Cristina Comencini was picked. Tsotsi by South Africa's Gavin Hood won. Countries are required to submit their candidates by October 1 and the Oscar ceremony is scheduled for February 24. The Tavianis will be up against stiff competition. In Europe alone, candidates include: from Austria, Michael Haneke's Amour, which won the Palme d'Or this year; from Belgium, A perdre la raison by Joachim Lafosse; from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Children of Sarajevo by Aida Begic; from Denmark, A Royal Affair di Nikolaj Arcel; from France, the crowd-pleasing Intouchables by Olivier Nakache; from Germany, Barbara by Christian Petzold, which won the Silver Bear in Berlin); from Norway, Kon-Tiki by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rnning; from Poland, 80 Million by Waldemar Krzystek; from Portugal, Sangue do meu Sangue by Joo Canijo; from Romania, Beyond the Hills by Cristian Mungiu, which won screenplay and best actress awards at Cannes; from Sweden, The Hypnotist by Lasse Hallstroem; and from Switzerland, Sister by Ursula Meier. Spain is set to decide Thursday from a short list of three: Grupo 7; El artista y la modelo and Blancanieves. Iran, which won the award last year with A Separation, is boycotting the Oscars because of the recent US-made film mocking the Prophet Mohammed. Chile has put forward No by Pablo Larrain, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, which depicts the 1988 referendum that decided whether former dictator Augusto Pinochet would continue in office or not.

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