In 1906, a young Italian sets out for the American Dream: Gaetano "Tony" Gaudio. In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, he soon strengthened his passion for cinematography, born years earlier in the family laboratory in Cosenza and which became a profession in Turin with Ambrosio Film, until moving to Hollywood, where he will be consecrated in 1937 with a Oscar Award, the first in history for an Italian. Those were the years in which cinema was born both in Italy, with the primacy of Piedmont years before Rome, and in the USA, with the rise of the first production companies in New York and the first Studios in Los Angeles. Tony Gaudio contributed directly, as a pioneer of cinematography photography, to the birth of the film industry as we know it today, soon becoming a leading figure in Hollywood cinema and its institutions such as the American Society of Cinematographers, working with directors such as Howard Hawks and Howard Hughes, as well as with actresses such as Greta Garbo and Bette Davis. He helped to create the look of the first films of the newly formed Warner Bros., on which the noir genre subsequently developed. Upon his death in 1951, Tony Gaudio's memory slowly fades and his statuette is lost. 70 years later, an American detective goes on his trail, reconstructing the fascinating human and professional life of Tony Gaudio, in the hope of finding the Lost Oscar.

The purpose of the documentary is to tell a story that strangely few knows: the very first Italian Oscar in history. He wants to bring to light a man, Tony Gaudio, who, like many compatriots in the early 1900s, decided to leave Italy for the United States, where it was exactly the "light" that gave him the "American dream". It will be amazing to run through his entire life, starting from his origins in the family photographic studio in Cosenza, through the collaboration with the Piedmontese production company Ambrosio Film, to his landing in New York and his acclaim in Hollywood. Through this story of emigration, similar to that made by another Oscarwinning director of photography from Calabria, Mauro Fiore, we also intend to retrace the evolution of the cinematographer over the years, comparing the techniques and cinematographic language of Gaudio’s period, with the evolutions that occurred on the Italian production front, which at the time had its main center in Turin. The form of the documentary will be the alternation of a pure documentary style (interviews with experts and family members, use of archive footage), with a more strictly cinematographic one (animation sequences and merely “fiction” reconstructions for the search for the statuette).

Alessandro Nucci
Alessandro Nucci, Fabrizio Nucci
Alessandro Nucci, Fabrizio Nucci
Director of photography
Gianluca Gattabria, Alessandro Nucci
Film Editor
Martina Nogarotto
Luigi Porto, Niccolò Bosio, Nate Ipanag, Simone Casile
Cast and characters

Mauro Fiore, Richard Edlund, Gino Gaudio, Patrick Keating, Claudia Gianetto, Richard Crudo, Steve Gainer, David Mullen, Marianna Gatto, Howard Thomas Ray

Production Director
Carmela Bilotto
Organizzatore generale
Fabrizio Nucci
Executive production
Fabrizio Nucci, Anna Frandino, Mary Reid, Gavin Glynn
Fabrizio Nucci, Anna Frandino
Open Fields Productions
con il sostegno di Film Commission Torino Piemonte - Piemonte Doc Film Fund - produzione dicembre 2022
Last update: 08 May 2024