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‘Postman’ a Bittersweet Triumph in Oscar Nominations

February 13, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Italian comic actor Massimo Troisi barely lived long enough to finish ``The Postman,″ let alone see it win international accolades.

Today, 1 1/2 years after Troisi died at age 41, ``The Postman″ received an Oscar nomination for best picture. Troisi was nominated both for best actor and for co-writing the story of an Italian mail carrier’s unusual friendship with Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

The nominations for ``The Postman″ were particularly unusual. Until today, a foreign-language film had not been nominated for best picture since Ingmar Bergman’s ``Cries and Whispers″ in 1973. The last posthumous nomination for a leading actor came 20 years ago, for Peter Finch in 1976′s ``Network.″

``It’s more than a triumph. I still don’t believe it,″ Maria Grazia Cucinotta, who played Troisi’s dark-haired, sensual sweetheart in the film, told the Italian news agency ANSA. ``If he deserved it (it was because) he made this film with his heart.″

Troisi suffered from heart problems since childhood and died in June 1994, less than 12 hours after he finished work on the film. Due to his declining health, Troisi looked frail in several sections of the film and was forced to sit in numerous scenes. He rarely could work more than an hour a day.

The film was not eligible for a foreign-language Oscar nomination this year because it was released in Italy in 1994. Italy did not submit ``The Postman″ as the country’s official entry that year, reportedly because director Michael Radford is British. ``L’America″ was entered instead.

Yet ``The Postman″ qualified for this year’s feature-length Oscars because it was released in the United States in 1995.

``We’re feeling a mix of crossed emotions,″ Troisi’s sister, Rosaria Troisi, told the Italian news agency AGI. ``It’s a very great satisfaction, but satisfaction doesn’t signify joy. What can I say. We’re smack in the middle of an emotional storm. I can say that Massimo has given another happy moment to all those he already gave joy to. We’re proud.″

Added her son, Massimo: ``The person we should celebrate with isn’t here, but we hope that he’s received the news″ in heaven.

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