The Venice Film Festival has an announcement to make and it's all the more delightful if the voice in your head that you read it with has an Italian accent: "The Controcampo Italiano Jury, chaired by Valerio Mastandrea and composed by Susanna Nicchiarelli and Dario Edoardo Viganò, has unanimously awarded the Controcampo Italiano Award to the film 20 sigarette by Aureliano Amadei, interpreted by Vinicio Marchioni, Carolina Crescentini and Giorgio Colangeli, with the following statement: 'The density of this story follows the rhythm of a truth that, beyond all prejudices, becomes a personal tale which blends the elements from the practice of freedom with intelligence and hints of irony. Freedom from one's own past to pursue a dream, freedom from own prejudices to meet people, freedom from own pain not to force the audience into predetermined views.'"
Boyd van Hoeij in Variety: "A foolhardy internship if ever there was one is dramatized in 20 sigarette, which recounts the incredible (and incredibly irresponsible) work experience of an Italo slacker hired as an assistant director on a film shot in Iraq, in 2003. Hours after Aureliano Amadei's arrival at Nasiriyah military police HQ, suicide bombers drive a tanker truck into the building, killing soldiers and civilians. Amazingly, Amadei survived, and wrote a book and now directed a film about his experiences."
"In someone else's hands, 20 Cigarettes could have become a gritty anti-war movie or an outright tearjerker," writes Natasha Senjanovic in the Hollywood Reporter. "Instead, Aureliano Amadei opts for a middle ground for his autobiographical debut feature, which is surprisingly mainstream and sincere at the same time." The film "takes its name from the fact that chronic smoker Amadei hadn't even gone through his first pack of cigarettes in Iraq before his life changed forever. Using mostly a handheld camera and a guitar-heavy soundtrack, the film's strength lies in an ability to shift comfortably from comedy to drama without political rhetoric or trivializing its characters."