Paolo Sorrentino is undoubtedly one of the major Italian directors currently in business, who also stands out for being an actor, producer, screenwriter and writer, and is the winner of a Golden Globe, four European FilmAwards, five David di Donatello and eight Nastri d’argento.
Born in Naples in 1970, Sorrentino soon became an orphan, and began working in the world of cinema – in 1991 – as assistant director to Enzo Decaro for the film The Thieves of the Future. The debut behind the camera dates back to Un paradiso, a short film that shot with Stefano Russo, followed by other assistant-director roles, as in the case of Drogheria by Maurizio Fiume, and – in 1998 – by Polvere di Napoli, by Antonio Capuano, to whom he collaborated in writing, to which he also wrote some episodes of the TV series “La squadra”. Also in 1998, he made his first film by his own name, Love Has No Borders, a short film with surreal tones. The following year he wrote with Umberto Contarello La voce dell’amore, directed by Michele Placido, and then the short film La notte lunga.
In 2001 he made his first feature film, which he also worked on for the screenplay, L’uomo in più, which, among other things, earned him the Nastro d’Argento for Best New Director at the Venice Film Festival. A year later he worked on La primavera del 2002, a collective documentary made under the direction of Francesco Maselli.
It comes to 2004, when Sorrentino, continuing the collaboration with Toni Servillo, who had started with The Man More, called the great actor for his The Consequences of Love, which achieved an extraordinary success at the Cannes Film Festival, also winning five David di Donatello for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Supporting Actor and Director of Photography, to which were added three Silver Ribbons. The association with Toni Servillo was further strengthened by the creation of a television version of Eduardo De Filippo’s Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In 2006, Sorrentino made a cameo appearance in the film Il caimano by Nanni Moretti, returning then behind the camera in 2006, with The Family Friend.
The qualitative leap in success came in 2008 with Il divo, a film inspired by the figure of the politician Giulio Andreotti, once again with Toni Servillo as the absolute protagonist, who participated in the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Jury Prize and obtaining an excellent critical and public success. The following year, however, he made the assignment of the tents, a video reportage for the newspaper “La Repubblica” dedicated to the devastating effects of the earthquake in L’Aquila.
In 2010, however, Sorrentino also measured himself with literature, publishing the novel They are all right, then participating with an episode in the collective film Naples 24. In 2011, he shot This Must Be the Place, his first English-language film, with Sean Penn, which won Donatello’s David for Best Screenplay.
Two years later, The Great Beauty arrived, again with Toni Servillo, which was a great box-office success – in Italy and then abroad – but had discordant reviews from critics, winning four European Film Awards, one Golden Globe and five Silver Ribbons. In 2014, then, came the Oscar as best foreign film, an award that was not awarded to an Italian film since 1999, when it was awarded La vita è bella by Roberto Benigni. That year, moreover, Sorrentino signed the TV direction of the comedy Le voci di dentro, made on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Eduardo De Filippo, directing on that occasion the brothers Toni and Peppe Servillo.
After this success, Sorrentino returned to cinemas in 2015, with Youth – Youth, the second English-language film, featuring Harvey Keitel, Michael Caine, Jane Fonda and Paul Dano. In 2016, he signed the television series The Young Pope, with Silvio Orlando, Jude Law and Diane Keaton, and in 2018 Loro, a film inspired by Silvio Berlusconi.
The last and most recent cinematographic effort of Paolo Sorrentino is the recent one. It was the hand of God, an autobiographical work that recounts the years of the Neapolitan director’s youth. Sorrentino with his latest film, “It was the hand of God”, will represent Italy in the category of best international film at the Oscars 2022.