The Pursuit of Happyness
“I couldn't think that someday I would be so famous, I didn't even assume the success.” Gabriele Muccino
Italian director Gabriele Muccino was launched to international fame thanks to the 2001 “Ultimo bacio, L'/The Last Kiss,” which he directed and wrote. The film was a huge success in his native country and won him the Best Director Award at the David di Donatello (an equivalent to the Academy Awards) and the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. “The Last Kiss” was Muccino's third Italian film after “That's It” (1998) and “But Forever in My Mind” (1999). The follow-up, “Remember Me, My Love,” (2003) collected 10 David di Donatello nominations and brought him a Silver Ribbon Award with the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
Four years after his triumph at Sundance, Muccino broke into the Hollywood scene with the massively successful “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) after Will Smith handpicked the director to serve as the director of the film. The effort paid off when Smith took home Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Muccino and Smith were reunited for “Seven Pounds” (2008). He also wrote the screenplay for “Four Single Fathers” (2009).
Muccino will make his comeback to Italian film with “Baciami ancora/Kiss Me Again” (2010), a follow-up to 2001's “The Last Kiss.”
Father of 2
Childhood and Family:
“When I was a kid I was very introvert, happy with my loneliness. So maybe I wasn't such a normal kid.” Gabriele Muccino
Gabriele Muccino was born on May 20, 1967, in Rome, Italy. He has a younger brother named Silvio Muccino who is a popular Italian actor and writer. Gabriele majored in literature at La Sapienza University, but quickly quit school to focus on film. He then attended the directing program at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia in Rome.
On May 4, 2002, Gabriele married Elena Majoni, who appeared in “Giovane Casanova, Il/The Young Casanova” (2002, TV). The couple welcomed their first child, son Ilan, in 2003. They divorced three years later in 2006. Gabriele also has a son named Silvio Leonardo (born in 2000) with production designer Eugenia F. Di Napoli. He and Eugenia worked together in “Ecco fatto” (1998), “Come te nessuno mai” (1999) and “Ultimo bacio, L'” (2001).
The Last Kiss
“I've always wanted be a director. I've been loving cinema since I was a kid.” Gabriele Muccino
Gabriele Muccino began his film career working as an assistant for Italian filmmakers Pupi Avati of “The Story of Boys and Girls/Storia di ragazzi e di ragazze” (1989) fame and Marco Risi, who produced the award winning drama “The Turkish Bath/Hamam” (1997). After graduating from Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, he created documentaries and shorts for Radio Audizioni Italiane (RAI).
In 1998, after helming the TV soap “Posto al sole, Un/Place in the Sun, A” and a segment of “Intolerance” called “Max suona il piano” (both 1996), Muccino made his feature directorial debut with “Ecco fatto/That's It,” which he also wrote. The comedy brought him a nomination for Best New Director at the 1999 David di Donatello Awards, an equivalent to the Oscars in Italy, and a Prize of the City of Torino for Best Film - International Feature Film Competition nomination at the 1998 Torino International Festival of Young Cinema.
A year later, Muccino resurfaced with his next film, “Come te nessuno mai//But Forever in My Mind,” which he also directed and wrote. The teen movie, starring his brother Silvio Muccino, was shown at several film festivals, including the 1999 Venice Film Festival, the 1999 Toronto Film Festival and the 2000 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema where he picked up the OCIC Award, before premiering in the United States in December 2000. Muccino also won a Golden Castle Award at the 1999 Castellinaria International Festival of Young Cinema and the Silver Iris for Best Screenplay at the 2000 Brussels International Film Festival. He also received Silver Ribbon nominations for Best Director, Best Original Story and Best Screenplay at the 2000 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and the Grand Prix nomination at the 2000 Paris Film Festival.
Muccino's big breakthrough arrived with his subsequent film project “Ultimo bacio, L'/The Last Kiss” (2001). “The Last Kiss” became a box office hit in Italy with total earnings of more than $10 million. Also a massive critical success, the film netted five David di Donatello awards, including Best Director for Muccino, as well as several other awards and nominations at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. Muccino continued to gain success the next year when “The Last Kiss” made its way to the Sundance Film Festival and ended up winning the World Cinema Audience Award. The victory subsequently put Muccino on the radar of American audiences.
Muccino returned to the director's chair in 2003 for “Ricordati di me/Remember Me, My Love,” which featured Monica Bellucci. The drama was nominated for 10 David di Donatello Awards, including Best Director, Best Film, and Best Screenplay (shared with Heidrun Schleef) for Muccino and won the Silver Ribbon for Best Screenplay at the 2003 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. He was also nominated for a Silver Ribbon for Best Director.
In 2006, Muccino revisited his documentary roots with “Chi siete venuti a cercare,” which he directed with Italian filmmakers Luciano Manuzzi and Giulio Base. The same year, he also made his Hollywood debut with “The Pursuit of Happyness,” based on a true story about an on-and-off homeless salesman turned stockbroker named Christopher “Chris” Gardner (played by Will Smith). Under his direction, Smith received an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and a Golden Globe nomination in the same category, plus others. Muccino nabbed a David nomination for Best Foreign Film. With a budget of $55 million, “The Pursuit of Happyness” was a huge blockbuster hit, with a total worldwide box office of over $ 300 million. Commenting about Will Smith, who personally chose him to direct the film, Muccino said, “He thought that I could show the human soul better than any American director. It seemed to me like a joke because there are excellent American directors, but he has been really stubborn.”
Still in 2006, an American version of Muccino's “Ultimo bacio, L/The Last Kiss” was released, with Tony Goldwyn sitting in the director's chair and Muccino serving as executive producer.
The following year, Muccino directed Monica Bellucci and José Fidalgo in “Heart Tango” for Intimissimi. He had previously made commercials for “Buitoni” (1998, starred Diego Abatantuono), “Pagine gialle” (1998, starred Claudio Bisio) and the 2003 Lancia Advertising “Affinità Elettive,” among others. Still in 2007, he debuted on American television directing the pilot “Viva Laughlin,” adapted from the well-liked BBC British serial “Blackpool.” The series, however, was a flop.
Muccino revisited the Hollywood cinema in 2008 with “Seven Pounds,” a drama starring Will Smith as an IRS agent who sets out to change the lives of seven people. Released on December 19, the film failed to achieve the same commercial success as its predecessor and received primarily negative reviews. Muccino received a Black Reel nomination for Best Director for his work in the film. In addition to Smith, “Seven Pounds” also starred Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy and Barry Pepper.
Recently, Muccino wrote and produced the comedy film “Four Single Fathers” (2009), about four Italian single fathers trying to deal with American former wives, children, family, and new relationships. Paolo Monico directed the movie.
Muccino is scheduled to return to his Italian roots with “Baciami ancora/Kiss Me Again,” a sequel to the highly successful “The Last Kiss.” The film is set to be released in Italy in January 2010. In addition to directing, Muccino is also credited as the screenwriter, a duty he shares with Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli.
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Screenplay (Miglior Sceneggiatura), “Ricordati di me/Remember Me, My Love,” 2003
Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award, World Cinema, “Ultimo bacio, L'/The Last Kiss,” 2002
David di Donatello: David, Best Director (Migliore Regista), “Ultimo bacio, L'/Tne Last Kiss,” 2001
Brussels International Film Festival: Silver Iris, Best Screenplay, “Come te nessuno mai/But Forever in My Mind, 2000
Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema: OCIC Award, “Come te nessuno mai/But Forever in My Mind,” 2000
Castellinaria International Festival of Young Cinema: Golden Castle, “Come te nessuno mai/But Forever in My Mind,” 1999