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Paolo Sorrentino to receive A Tribute to… Award

The 17th Zurich Film Festival honours the Italian director and screenwriter for his cinematic oeuvre with the prestigious A Tribute to… Award. Paolo Sorrentino will receive the honorary award on Wednesday, September 29, at the Gala Premiere of his new autobiographical film THE HAND OF GOD. Furthermore, the ZFF will screen a retrospective of Sorrentino’s work.

For around 20 years, Paolo Sorrentino, born in Naples in 1970, has been creating films that enthuse audience and critics alike and testify to his great artistic range. With his recent work, the drama THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (2011), shown at the 7th Zurich Film Festival in the Special Screenings section, and the critics’ favourite LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (2013), which earned him an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the auteur filmmaker achieved international renown. His political feature LORO (2018) was presented in the official selection of the 14th Zurich Film Festival. At this year’s ZFF, the Italian cineaste will now be awarded an honorary prize for his work.

“For me, Paolo Sorrentino is the true descendant of Fellini in Italian auteur cinema,” explains Artistic Director Christian Jungen. “He understands cinema as art and as a means of social criticism. He ignites a veritable aesthetic fireworks display in his works and captures the spiritual condition of Italy with an anthropological eye, where the sacred and the profane coexist. This is also the case in his wonderful new film THE HAND OF GOD, his most personal work to date.”

Paolo Sorrentino will receive the award on September 29 before presenting his latest work THE HAND OF GOD (È STATA LA MANO DI DIO) as a Gala Premiere. “I am happy and honored to receive this Award because it is always nice to be celebrated and because this recognition comes from a Festival whose mission is in the discovery of talent. Participating at the ZFF this year, with my most personal film, is very exciting for me because The Hand of God speaks also about the moment when each of us takes courage and admits to ourselves and to others that we want to try the unconscious and crazy venture of being a director”, says Sorrentino.

Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino will be honoured at the 17th ZFF. Photo © Gianni Fiorito

The coming-of-age drama THE HAND OF GOD stars young actor Filippo Scotti and Sorrentino’s longtime leading man Toni Servillo. The Netflix movie is produced by The Apartment, a Fremantle Company, and began filming last September in Naples, the director’s hometown. The title refers to a legendary, albeit irregular goal by Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, who attributed his handball at the 1986 World Cup to the “hand of God”.


Filmstill from THE HAND OF GOD (2021) © Netflix


The film tells the story of young Fabietto, who grows up in Naples in the 1980s and witnesses the arrival of world football star Diego Maradona with great enthusiasm. Sorrentino thus creates an indulgent tragicomedy about family and the turbulence of youth, about fate, sport and love, and about the Italy of his childhood. “Though the future is right there in front of you, you must just wait and look forward until it happens,” the master director writes about it on Instagram. “When it does, it can be beautiful.”

With the A Tribute to… Award, ZFF recognises auteur filmmakers for their contribution to film history. Previous award winners include Wim Wenders, Olivier Assayas, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke, Oliver Stone and Maïwenn.

The 17th edition of the ZFF will take place from September 23 to October 3, 2021. 

The complete festival programme will be announced on our website on September 9. Tickets can be purchased from September 13.



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