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
Virzi's versatility became apparent as a teenager, when he spent most of his
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
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
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
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
received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike: the Venice
Festival jury, presided over by Jane Campion, awarded Paolo Virzi the Jury Grand
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
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
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
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
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
Ramazzotti, Valerio Mastandrea, Claudia Pandolfi, and Italian film icon Stefania
starred in films such as Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist and Pietro Germi's
La Prima Cosa Bella received 18 nominations for the David di Donatello Award
winning Best Screenplay (by Paolo Virzi with Francesco Bruni and Francesco
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
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
Awards. On November 9, 2010, La prima cosa bella opened the Cinema Italian-style
Festival in Los Angeles. In January 2011, the film was presented at the Palm
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
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
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
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
Capital was chosen as the official Italian entry for Best Foreign Language Film
at the 2015
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
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
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