David di Donatello

   Prize. Instituted in 1955 under the aegis of the Open Gate Club and the Club Internazionale del Cinema (International Cinema Club) — voluntary associations formed in the early 1950s with the aim of encouraging Italian cinema and raising its profile abroad—the David di Donatello prize has effectively become the Italian equivalent of the American Academy Awards. The name of the award derives from the golden replica of the young David sculpted by Donatello that is given each year to winners across a number of categories. The first Davids awarded in 1956 in Rome, under the patronage of the President of the Republic, were awarded to Gianni Franciolini as Best Director for Racconti romani (Roman Stories), Vittorio De Sica as Best Actor in Pane, amore e . .. (Scandal in Sorrento), and Gina Lollobrigida as Best Actress in La donna piu bella del mondo (The World's Most Beautiful Woman). The first David for Best Foreign Film went to the Walt Disney studios for its Lady and the Tramp.
   The award ceremony was shifted to Taormina in 1957, and in 1958 the strong but unofficial support that had been shown for the awards by the Associazione Generale Italiana dello Spettacolo (AGIS, General Italian Association for Entertainment) and the Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche e Affini (ANICA, National Association of Cinematographic and Affiliated Industries) was ratified, with both associations becoming the official promoters of the David, which from then on has been legally administered by the Ente David (the David Authority).
   In subsequent years a number of new categories were added: between 1973 and 1983 a David was awarded for the best European film and between 1976 and 1995 a Premio David "Luchino Visconti" was also presented to distinguished directors. In any particular year any number of Special Davids may be awarded, over and above the usual categories, as was done in 1999 when Sophia Loren was given a Career David in recognition of lifetime achievement.

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

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