Italian coming-of-age film Che Ne Sara Di Noi (What Will Become Of Us?) is the surprise front-runner for the country's answer to the Oscars.
Che Ne Sara Di Noi opened on 5 March in Italy
The film, directed and written by Giovanni Veronesi, has been nominated for 12 David di Donatellos awards - beating more established film-makers.
The movie has earned $2.4m (£1.3m) in two weeks on release in Italy.
Marco Tullio Giordana's drama The Best Of Youth and Sergio Castellitto's Don't Move both received 11 nominations.
Don't Move stars Penelope Cruz, who is nominated for best actress.
What Will Become of Us? is about three teenagers who go on a trip to the Greek island of Santorini.
The Barbarian Invasions won an Oscar in February
The Best of Youth is over six hours long and follows the lives of brothers Nicola who live in Rome from 1966 to 2000.
The film was both a commercial and critical success when it was released last year.
The Donatello awards feature 20 categories including best foreign film and best European film.
Lars von Trier's Dogville and German film Good Bye Lenin! were among those nominated for best film from the European Union.
Four out of five best international film nominations come from Hollywood - Big Fish, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander and Mystic River.
They are joined by Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions, which won this year's Oscar for best film in a foreign language.
The Italian film industry enjoyed a healthy year in 2003, with more Italians attending the cinema and increased investment in national productions.