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De Sica, Fellini, Loren, Benigni, Sorrentino. There are many Italians who have won an Oscar. But who was the first ever? The forgotten Oscar is toGaetano "Tony" Gaudio, pioneer of film photography, Calabrian emigrated to Hollywood, who conquered the coveted statuette in 1937.



Commonly, it is remembered as the first Oscar won by an Italian, that of 1947 to Vittorio De Sica for "Sciuscià".


But already ten years earlier another Italian had won the Academy Award, a lesser-known man whose career was just as significant: a cinematographer, Gaetano “Tony” Gaudio, who emigrated in the early 1900s from Cosenza to Hollywood, in pursuit of the American dream.


There he became a pioneer and innovator of lighting and cinematographic shooting techniques, laying the foundations for what would later become the image style of modern cinema.


A man acclaimed by the American press in the first half of the 1900s, awarded the title of Knight of the Kingdom in his home country by Victor Emmanuel III (honour he refused to underline his distance from the Italian fascist regime) and soon became a point of reference for the great Divas of the time, such as Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Norma Talmadge.


"The Lost Oscar", therefore, is a documentary that wants to tell the journey that brought Tony Gaudio from Calabria to the 1937 consecration by the Academy of motion pictures, also investigating the mystery behind the disappearance of his statuette, the first Italian Oscar.


That the story of Tony Gaudio is completely unknown to most today is incredible.

A late 19th century boy who grew up in Calabria in the family photographic studio and who, with the advent of the new century, emigrates to the United States full of hopes and dreams. 

Tony will soon become an esteemed member of the film industry, founding and presiding over the major institutions of the time (some of which still exist, such as the American Society of Cinematographers), contributing to the definition not only of modern technical shooting standards but also engaging personally in the recognition and protection of the figure of the director of photography, previously a secondary role and not even mentioned in the credits of the films.


The intervention of scholars, historians and technicians of the sector, in addition to the presence of Gaudio's modern alter-ego, Mauro Fiore, will allow Tony's journey through two centuries and two continents to be told, a story that straddles the first cinematographic experiments and more contemporary forms of production.


The common thread that will link the narrative will be the element of the search for the lost statuette won in 1937, which will see a private investigator (the only fictional character) carry out a real investigation into the traces of Tony Gaudio's family and professional life.

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