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Timeless masterpieces, essential viewing for movie buffs

Historic, glamourous, prestigious, the Cannes Film Festival is all this and more for cinema aficionados.   Now in its 74th year (scheduled from 6 to 17 July), here is a roundup of all the Italian films which over the years have been awarded the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival and, since it was instituted in 1955, the famous Palme d’Or.

Three Italian directors were winners of the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival in its earliest years: Roberto Rossellini, with one of his masterpieces, Rome, Open City in 1946, Vittorio De Sica with Miracle in Milan in 1951 and, the following year, Renato Castellani with Two Cents’ Worth of Hope. The prize was reinstated as “Grand Prix du Festival International du Film” from 1964 – 74, a decade in which it was awarded to Pietro Germi’s The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1966) and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director (1967). 1972 was a special year in which two Italian films shared the prize, Elio Petri’s The Working Class Goes to Heaven and The Mattei Affair by Francesco Rosi, both starring the legendary Gian Maria Volontè and both unanimously proclaimed winners.

The first film to win the Palme d’Or was the great Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960, the year in which he also took home the Nastro d’Argento, or Silver Ribbon, and the David di Donatello. He was followed in 1963 by Luchino Visconti, who won with The Leopard, the iconic film with Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.

In the 1970s, Italian films won in two consecutive years, 1977 and 1978: the dramatic Padre Padrone by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani and Ermanno Olmi’s Albero degli Zoccoli, (Tree of Wooden Clogs), shot almost entirely with non-professional actors and in Bergamo dialect. We come full circle this year with a film by a director and actor who once again represents Italy at the famous festival, namely Nanni Moretti, who previously won the Palme d’Or in 2001 with The Son’s Room, in competition this year with his Three Floors. Fingers crossed!

Festival di Cannes 74
From 6 to 17 July

www.festival-cannes.com