Paolo Sorrentino returns to the Oscar fray eight years after he bagged the International Feature prize for The Great Beauty. His latest film, The Hand of God, has been one of the buzz films of the fall festivals, taking home the Venice Grand Jury Prize and also playing at Telluride and London.
Sorrentino’s most personal work to date touches on his own tumultuous childhood growing up in 1980s Naples, where his world was upended first by the electrifying arrival of soccer legend Diego Maradona, and then by a shocking accident.
As he tells us during the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film: International awards-season event, newcomer Fillipo Scotti had to go through a lengthy process to get the lead role, but throughout the production was keen to create a certain distance from Sorrentino’s own experience of the character:
“I tried to catch as much as I could from Paolo without really asking personal things because I wanted to see the character as a character and not as Paulo during his teenage years,” Scotti said. “I thought that would take away focus from the goal.”
Producer Lorenzo Mieli, who previously collaborated with Sorrentino on The Young Pope, was sensitive to the personal nature of the project and the fact the director was working with some new faces. “My task was to support Paolo with new people that he would partner with in order to create a warm, trustful and solid environment.”
Daria D’Antonio had worked in the camera team on multiple Sorrentino movies but this was her first turn as his main cinematographer. Her intention was to do “justice” to the narrative by ensuring that there was a humanized and “emotion-based” approach. “I really wanted to be faithful to Paolo’s life and memories… I was honored that he asked me. I was somebody who was already so emotionally close to him so this was a great help for me.”
The Hand of God is gearing for an Italian theatrical release November 24. In the U.S., it will stream on Netflix beginning December 15.
Check back Monday for the panel video.