The great Martin Scorsese returned to the Eternal City, accompanied by the star of the moment, Lily Gladstone, as the guests of honor of a gala dinner at the Hotel Hassler by the Spanish steps Wednesday night. The event, honoring Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and hosted by co-chief of Leone Film Group, Raffaella Leone, daughter of great Italian film director Sergio Leone, and Paolo Del Brocco, head of Rai Cinema, the Italian distributor of Killers. Hot off the film’s 10 Oscar nominations, including a record-setting 10th best director nod for Scorsese and the historic best actress nod for Gladstone as the first Native American nominated in the category, the event was a must-attend for the Italian film scene.
The Hollywood Reporter Roma was the only media outlet admitted to the event, and we were a fly on the wall for the parade of A-list industry guests, which included Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty, Hand of God), Angels and Demons actor Pierfrancesco Favino as well as legendary Italian filmmakers Marco Bellocchio (Good Morning, Night, The Traitor), Gabriele Muccino (Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness) and Mario Martone (We Believed, Leopardi).
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The Great Beauty star Toni Servillo was the first to arrive, and the room slowly filled up. Other VIPs spotted included Gabriella Pescucci, Oscar-winning costume designer for The Age of Innocence; Oscar-nominated costume designer Massimo Cantini-Parrini (Pinocchio, Cyrano); Nicola Maccanico, CEO of storied Rome studio Cinecittà; Indigo Film co-founder Francesca Cima; and Francesca Lo Schiavo, the Oscar-winning set decorator for Scorsese’s The Aviator and Hugo. All were gathered about, chatting and joking amongst themselves, nipping at their hors d’oeuvres and sipping champagne while waiting for the guests of honor.
There was a brief moment of panic a few minutes in when the distinct smell of smoke drifted through the air. “That’s not what I need tonight!” exclaimed a frenzied event planner. It seems one of the placeholders had caught on fire but the emergency was quickly diffused with a few discrete spritzes of perfume. And the evening could begin.
Scorsese entered, dashing in a dark suit and cobalt blue tie, immediately starting a stir across the room. A small circle formed around him as the master held court. The first to greet him, with a bear hug, was Dante Ferretti, his longtime and multi-Oscar-winning production designer (Hugo, The Aviator).
Bellocchio pulled Scorsese in close for a manly pat on the back. “I’m very glad, very glad,” the Kidnapped director said, again, and again.
Introductions done, we were all escorted to the dinner area. A room of low lighting and round tables with a white-on-white color scheme was set off by large paintings looming on the walls. Scorsese was seated at one side of the room with Sorrentino, Bellocchio, Favino and producer/costume designer Raffaella Leone (Once Upon a Time in America, Fathers and Daughters). On the other side of the room, keeping Gladstone company, were Muccino, The Great Beauty producer Francesca Cima, Servillo and producer Paolo Del Brocco (Dogman, Tale of Tales), who, banging a knife on his goblet, drew the crowd’s attention to call for a tribute to “one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema” to his “greatest masterpiece” Killers of the Flower Moon and to Gladstone for her “extraordinary” performance. Everyone applauded as Scorsese listened quietly.
The Roman evening was part of a European tour for Killers of the Flower Moon that has seen Scorsese touch down in Paris and will continue through Madrid and London. Before attending the dinner, the director had an audience with the Pope. It was a meeting of “two men of genius and experience for whom the figure of Jesus has an extraordinary fascination and value,” according to Father Antonio Spadaro, the undersecretary of the Catholic Church’s Dicastery for Culture and Education, who posted on X (formerly Twitter) after the event. Scorsese’s Vatican visit came on the heels of the announcement a few months ago that he had written a script for a film about Jesus — based on A Life of Jesus by Shūsaku Endō, former author of Silence — with shooting set to begin later this year.
Noticeably absent on the night was fellow Oscar nominee Matteo Garrone. Del Brocco noted he was double booked and attending his last public screening of Io Capitano, which is up for an Academy Award in the best international feature category.
“‘I’m sure you can understand,” joked Del Brocco of Rai Cinema to Scorsese and Gladstone, noting their own intense awards-season schedule. At the very latest, Scorsese and Garrone will see each other on the Oscar red carpet March 10.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Rome event was hosted by AppleTV+.
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