Italy has selected Gianfranco Rosi’s observational documentary ‘Notturno’ as its candidate for the Oscar in the international feature film category.

“Notturno,” which launched from the Venice Film Festival and has since played at a slew of other top international fests, including Toronto and New York, was selected out of a roster of 25 titles by a committee convened by the Italian motion picture association, ANICA.

Other top contenders comprised Sophia Loren-starrer “The Life Ahead,” directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, and Matteo Garrone’s live action “Pinocchio,” starring Roberto Benigni as “Mastro Geppetto,” both of which have U.S. distribution.

“Notturno,” for which Submarine Entertainment is handling North-American sales – a U.S. distributor has not been announced – has been widely sold by The Match Factory in many other international territories.

Rosi’s high-profile doc was shot over three years along the rattled borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon in the director’s signature observational – but also empathetic – style. The impressionistic doc captures people who have long been contending with the ravages of war and terror, most recently inflicted by ISIS.

Rosi’s latest work, segues from migration-themed “Fire at Sea” that won the 2016 Berlin Golden Bear and “Sacro GRA,” winner of the 2013 Venice Golden Lion.

“Notturno” marks a bold choice on the part of the ANICA committee comprising producers, directors and journalists, given that Loren and “The Life Ahead” both have plenty of Oscar buzz and the film, which is a Netflix Original, rapidly reached the Top Ten in 37 countries, including the U.S., since its Nov. 13 release on the streaming giant. Loren earlier this week sent out a video message thanking her fans, which may have also been intended as an indirect appeal to the ANICA committee voters.

Of course, Loren still remains in the running for the Oscar in the best actress category

In addition, the fact that it’s a doc will allow “Notturno” to also compete in the documentary feature category. So, this way, Italy is casting as wide an Oscar net as possible.

“Notturno” is a production of 21Uno Film – Stemal Entertainment with Rai Cinema, with Istituto Luce – Cinecittà, with the contribution of the Direzione Generale Cinema e Audiovisivo – Mibact and the support of Eurimages, co-produced by Les Films D’Ici (France) with Arte France Cinéma, No Nation Films (Germany) and Mizzi Stock Entertainment (Germany). It is produced by Donatella Palermo, Gianfranco Rosi, Serge Lalou and Camille Laemlè, Orwa Nyrabia, Eva-Maria Weerts.

The 93rd Academy Awards will take place on April 25, 2021.

https://variety.com/2020/film/global/italy-selects-gianfranco-rosi-notturno-as-its-oscar-candidate-1234838868/