Hand of God, The: Sorrentino’s Second Oscar Nod

Sorrentino: ‘Being Oscar Candidate for a Second Time Means the First Time Wasn’t Just a Fluke’

Hand of God international Features Shortlist
Courtesy of Everett Collection


Paolo Sorrentino, who won an international Oscar for The Great Beauty in 2014, is back in contention with the autobiographical film The Hand of God.

It marks the director’s return to filmmaking in his native Naples 20 years after his debut, One Man Up.

This Netflix Italian film is the story of a goofy kid named Fabietto who starts harboring a passion for filmmaking in the tumultuous Naples of the late 1980s.

As Sorrentino has put it, “it’s a tale of destiny and family, of sport and cinema, love and loss.”

Shortlisted for the best international feature Oscar?

It’s a great honor and a great responsibility to represent my country once again. Being a candidate for the second time fills me with joy because it means that the first time wasn’t just a fluke. This second candidacy indicates continuity in my work and a standard that is at the very least dignified.

Most challenging aspect of your campaign?

The Oscar campaign is very stimulating and fun. But at the same time, it’s tiring and a lot of work. You travel a lot, and change places real fast. The most complicated part this year, alas, has to do with limitations due to the pandemic.

Travelling to the U.S. to support your film

 The film is being well received. It sparks curiosity and emotions. And people are laughing, which was one of my simple goals. 

“Parasite” was the first foreign winner in history

The Oscars are a prize that was born in the U.S. and has grown there. So I think it’s entirely natural that the bulk of the attention goes to English-language films. But of course, not being American, I hope that phenomenon like “Parasite” can happen again. In any event, I think there is quite an ample interest on the part of the U.S. industry and film critics towards foreign films.

Running time of foreign films?

I can just speak about my own personal experience. “The Great Beauty” was two hours and twenty minutes long, but I never received any criticism regarding its length. “The Hand of God” is two hours and ten minutes, and even in this case I haven’t heard of any particular complaints regarding the length of the film. A film has its necessity, its rhythm, its ampleness and length which reflect these needs. If a film is well made, it can be very long and satisfy anyone.

Representing Italy to American awards body? 

It’s an honor, but also a burden. You never feel fully adequate to represent an entire country.

Aspects of “The Hand of God” that audiences in Italy and the U.S. respond to differently?

Generally speaking, no. However, sometimes certain characters that to us Italians appear realistic can seem unreal or grotesque abroad. But this is totally normal, each one of us only has an in-depth knowledge of their own culture.