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THE LEISURE SEEKER

PAOLO VIRZI was born in Livorno, Italy, in 1964. His father was a Carabinieri police officer and his mother a former singer. After spending his early childhood in Turin in the north of Italy, Virzi and his family moved back to Livorno, where he grew up in Le Sorgenti, a working-class neighborhood.

Virzi's versatility became apparent as a teenager, when he spent most of his time writing, directing and acting in plays for local drama companies.

He later left Livorno for Rome to study screenwriting at the time-honored Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia film school, and graduated in 1987. His teachers included well-known film director Gianni Amelio and Furio Scarpelli, who wrote some of the greatest Italian movies of all time. Scarpelli was to play a crucial role in Virzi's life, becoming his mentor and his "maestro". With him, Paolo co-wrote the screenplay for Giuliano Montaldo's Time to Kill, based on the Ennio Flaiano novel and starring Nicolas Cage, as well as several other projects for cinema and TV.

Virzi made his directorial debut in 1994, with La Bella Vita, the story of a love triangle set against the backdrop of the irreversible identity crisis of the Italian working class. The movie premiered at the 1994 Venice International Film Festival and went on to win the Ciak d'oro award, the Nastro d'Argento award, and the prestigious David di Donatello award in the "Best New Director" category.

In his first film, Virzi's talent for directing actors already shone through, as well as his skilful handling of serious issues with an ironic touch, mixing drama and humor.

His following film, Ferie d'Agosto (1995), featuring an impressive cast of Italian stars, was an ironical reflection on political tension in Italy after Silvio Berlusconi's triumphant appearance on the political stage. The film won the David di Donatello Award for "Best Film" of the year. Ovosodo (''Hardboiled Egg'', 1997), named after a neighborhood in Livorno, is one of Virzi's most personal films. Despite being strongly rooted in local lifestyle and accents, Ovosodo received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike: the Venice International Film Festival jury, presided over by Jane Campion, awarded Paolo Virzi the Jury Grand Prize. In 1999, Virzi directed Baci e Abbracci (''Kisses and Hugs''), a mixture of fable, social comedy and a Dickensian Christmas tale, which, once again, portrayed life in a provincial community seduced by the irresistible appeal of modernity.

My Name Is Tanino (2002), was shot in Sicily, Canada and the United States. In this movie Virzi confirmed his talent scouting skills, with the Canadian actress Rachel McAdams appearing on the screen for the first time in a small role.

Virzi's next feature, Caterina Va in Citta (''Caterina in the Big City'', 2003), is dedicated to Rome, a much loved and hated city, with its enthralling discoveries and its bitter setbacks. Margherita Buy won the David di Donatello and the Nastro d'Argento awards for Best Actress in 2004 playing Caterina's mother, while 13-year-old Alice Teghil, who played Caterina, won the Guglelmo Biraghi award.

N (Io e Napoleone) (''Napoleon and Me'', 2006), is Virzi's attempt at combining Italian-style comedy with a historic period piece peppered with allusions to the present day. N features an international cast, including French icon Daniel Auteuil in the role of Napoleon, Monica Bellucci and a young Elio Germano in his first starring role (he then went on to win Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival in 2010).

Virzi's next project, the ensemble piece Tutta la Vita Davanti, is one of his most scathing and bitter films. It is a grotesque comedy with an apocalyptic vision of the world of work. The film won a slew of awards, including the Nastro d'argento and the Globo d'oro (Italian Golden Globe) for Best Film, as well as the Ciak d'oro for Best Film and Best Director, not to mention the many other prizes awarded to the actors in the movie.

In October 2008, the Annecy Cinema Italien granted Paolo Virzi the Sergio Leone Award in recognition of his overall career achievements.

In 2009 Virzi shot La Prima Cosa Bella (''The First Beautiful Thing''), released in Italy on 15 January 2010. The project took him back to his hometown, Livorno. The film stars Micaela Ramazzotti, Valerio Mastandrea, Claudia Pandolfi, and Italian film icon Stefania Sandrelli, who starred in films such as Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist and Pietro Germi's Divorce, Italian Style.

La Prima Cosa Bella received 18 nominations for the David di Donatello Award in 2010, winning Best Screenplay (by Paolo Virzi with Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo), Best Actress (Micaela Ramazzotti) and Best Actor (Valerio Mastandrea). In July 2010, the film won 4 Nastri d'argento awards: Director of the Best Film of the Year (Paolo Virzi), joint Best Actress Micaela Ramazzotti and Stefania Sandrelli, Best Screenplay and Best Costume Design to Oscarwinner Gabriella Pescucci.

The European Film Academy shortlisted Paolo Virzi for the Best European Director award 2010. In September 2010, the Italian Film Industry Association (ANICA) selected La Prima Cosa Bella as Italy's Official Academy Award Entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. On November 9, 2010, La prima cosa bella opened the Cinema Italian-style Film Festival in Los Angeles. In January 2011, the film was presented at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

In October 2012, Tutti i Santi Giorni ("Every Blessed Day") was released in Italy. It was Virzi's tenth feature film. Loosely based on Simone Lenzi's novel "La Generazione", the film follows the lives of Guido and Antonia (played by Luca Marinelli and singer-songwriter Thony) and their attempts to start a family.

In 2013, Virzi was appointed as director of the 31st Torino Film Festival. His tenure was marked by a 30% increase in attendance.

In January 2014, Human Capital, Virzi's eleventh feature film was released in Italy. Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi won the Best Actress award at the Tribeca Film Festival, for her leading role as high-society housewife Carla Bernaschi. The film went on to receive 19 nominations for the 2014 David di Donatello awards, winning seven, including Best Film. The film also won a number of other major Italian awards, including six Nastri d'Argento, four Ciak d'Oro, and the Globo d'Oro for Best Film, a prize awarded by members of the international press. Human Capital was chosen as the official Italian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Academy Awards.

In 2016, La Pazza Gioia (Like Crazy) was released, with Micaela Ramazzotti and Valeria BruniTedeschi as leading characters, playing two patients running away from a mental institution. The film premiered as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and 400 copies were distributed in Italian theaters as of May 17th 2016.

La Pazza Gioia won 5 Nastri d'Argento and obtained an impressive 17 David di Donatello nominations.

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