When the film “Life is beautiful” won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 1989, Benigni threw himself on the floor and began kissing the feet of the jury president, Martin Scorsese.
In 1999 at the 71st Academy Awards, presented by Sophia Loren. Benigni won Best Actor for his role, with the film winning two more awards for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Foreign Language Film
Benigni’s behaviour at the ceremony was memorable: he jumped on top of the seats while going to the stage to accept his first award, and upon accepting his second, he said, “This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English.”
Here’s his amazing acceptance speech, which galvanized the audience:
🏆 “Thank you! Sophia, I leave(?) it here, the Oscar, but I want you. I want to be rocked by the waves of your beauty. Come here. Thank you! Thank you! This is a moment of joy and I want to kiss everybody because you are the maker(?) of the joy. He who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity sunrise, said [the] poet. And this is wonderful to be here. Wonderful! I feel like, now really, to dive in this ocean of generosity, this is too much. Your generosity, this is, uh, how do you say when the rain, the hailstorm, it’s a hailstorm of kindness, of gratitude for you.
And really I would like to thank everybody that did the movie, because without them I couldn’t fly with this movie. Everybody who did — the producer, the screenwriter Cerami, Elda Ferri, Gianluigi Braschi, Nicola Piovani, Vittorio Cecchi Gori. Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Film[s], thank you very much for what you did. And also I would like to thank my parents in Vergaio, in a little village in Italy. They gave me their biggest gift, their poverty, and I want to thank for the lesson(?) of my life. Really, but thank you, Mamma and Babbo. Thank you! And thank you for your love. Because if I am here it’s because people love the movies. So, it’s always a question of love.
I would like to dedicate this prize to those, because the subject the movie, those who are not here. They gave their life in order [that] we can say, “Life is beautiful.” And I would like to also say, a kiss to Giorgio Cantarini, Giorgio, the little boy. And because we are talking love, Dante said: L’amore che muove il sole e le altre stelle — Love will move the sun and the other stars. Love is a divinity, and sometimes if you have faith, like all the divinities it can appear. That’s why I want to dedicate this prize to Nicoletta Braschi. Thank you.” 🏆