The celebrated actor has been one of Italy’s most popular film figures since making his debut in the 1970s. His 1997 film La Vita è Bella (Life Is Beautiful), which he wrote, directed, and starred in, received the 1998 Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and in 1999, of the seven Oscar nominations the movie received, it won gongs for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor.
Benigni has received multiple David di Donatello Awards for films including Life Is Beautiful, Il Piccolo Diavolo (The Little Devil, 1988) and Johnny Stecchino (1991). He is also well known for roles in Jim Jarmusch films Down by Law (1986), Night on Earth, 1992, and Coffee and Cigarettes, 2003, and more recently, he won a David di Donatello Award as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Geppetto in Pinocchio (2019) by Matteo Garrone.
Since 1987, he has worked with his wife Nicoletta Braschi, the female lead in all of his movies and the co-founder in 1991 of their production company Melampo Cinematografica.
Benigni stated: “My heart is full of joy and gratitude. It is an immense honor to receive such an important recognition of my work from the Venice International Film Festival.”
Festival Director Alberto Barbera declared: “Right from his debut, marked by his innovative and irreverent approach to rules and traditions, Roberto Benigni stands out in the panorama of the Italian performing arts as an unprecedented and unequaled figure of reference. Juggling his appearances on theatrical stages, movie sets, and television studios, each time with surprising results, he shines in all of them thanks to his exuberance and impetuosity, his generous way with the public, and the passionate joyfulness that is perhaps the most original hallmark of his opus. With admirable eclecticism, and always true to form, he is one of the most extraordinary comedy actors in an admittedly rich gallery of Italian performers; a memorable director who makes enormously popular movies; and, his most recent transformation, one of the most esteemed performers and popularizers of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy.’ Few artists have equaled his ability to combine explosive comic timing, which is often accompanied by irreverent satire, with his admirable talent as an actor – at the service of great directors such as Federico Fellini, Matteo Garrone, and Jim Jarmusch – and as an engaging and sophisticated literary exegete.”
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