The official award ceremony was held on Wednesday, September 20, at the Residence, Grand Hyatt Melbourne in what was an evening of Italian fanfare.

Victorious Italian film director Roberto De Paolis’ won $10,000 and an iconic Bulgari-Bulgari gold and steel watch valued at over $15,000 for his work.

“I am honored to receive the Bulgari Critics’ Choice Award and I am so proud this little film has gone so far to Australia,” De Paolis said.  

'Pure Hearts' was selected at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, and follows a 17-year-old girl, Agnese, living with her devout mother, who meets 25-year-old Stefano, a young man with a difficult past.

Delicately handled, the film features two magnetic performances from its lead actor, Selene Caramazza and Simone Liberati.

 It was chosen as the winning film by the Jury panel out of six of the most acclaimed and outstanding Italian productions in the last year, which have never been screened in Australia.

Selected by an esteemed official jury gathered by Palace, the 2017 jury members included international star and this year’s Festival Ambassador Greta Scacchi, film critic Jason di Rosso, director Ruth Borgobello; actors Daniela Farinacci and Damian Walshe-Howling, and Bulgari Australia Managing Director Brad Harvey.

 “'Pure Hearts' is a very touching story of first love as two young people struggle in an environment made hostile by economic, social and religious pressures - all very topical in today’s Italy. It is filmed with great truth and integrity - a salute to the neo-realistic style of the golden era of Italian cinema - and the acting is strikingly honest,” Greta Scacchi said.