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The 2023 Jury Prize for Best Film goes to…

Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival is delighted to announce the winner of the 2023 Jury Prize for best film. A five-member jury of film scholars, critics and industry professionals scored all 13 movies according to defined criteria. The film that rose to the top, with the highest score of 136 points, was “No Dogs or Italians Allowed,” an animated film directed by Alain Ughetto.

The judges score each film based on its content, creativity and execution. It’s not often that an animated movie beats out live-action feature films, but “No Dogs or Italians Allowed” (“Interdit aux chiens et aux italiens” in the original French) captured our judges’ imagination with its creative storytelling and visuals. The movie recounts how the director’s grandfather emigrated from Italy to France, changing the destiny of his family. Ughetto travels back in time to examine what happened and how it impacted the lives of loved ones.

“‘No Dogs or Italians Allowed’ was a deeply moving story told in an incredibly imaginative way,” wrote one judge. “It was such a unique and perfect marriage of story and image. The fact that the story is true adds to its emotional impact.”

Congratulations Alain Ughetto! The festival’s trophy, designed by the Neapolitan artist Lello Esposito, will be shipped to him.

Tied for second place were “La stranezza” (“Strangeness”) by Roberto Andò and “Le otto montagne” (“The Eight Mountains”) by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch.

Nuovo Cinema Italiano, with support from the College of Charleston and other sponsors, presented a broad selection of contemporary Italian cinema during its Nov. 2-5 event at the Queen Street Playhouse in downtown Charleston. The festival’s red carpet, receptions, afterparties and public discussions lured hundreds of guests to what is the premier event of its kind in the Southeastern U.S.

As usual, some filmmakers attended the festival, engaging with audiences and students. In town were Sophie Chiarello, director of “The Circle”; Elia Mouatamid, director of “Maka”; and Simone Brioni, screenwriter of “Maka.” On screen was Giovanna Gagliardo, director of the documentary “Good Morning Tel Aviv.”

The festival has more planned for the coming months, including a Feb. 8 fundraiser, “Il ballo in maschera,” and special screenings of restored classics. Support the festival by purchasing a membership or by making a charitable contribution. Follow @nuovocinemaiff on Instagram or visit

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