Influenced by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Peter Sellers, Benigni first made an impression on American audiences in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986). The two shot a short film that was later included in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) and the feature Night on Earth (1991).
After attempting to make it big in America with Son of the Pink Panther (1993), Benigni returned to Italy to make The Monster (1994) and Life Is Beautiful (1997), which won three Oscars -- including one for Benigni's performance and one for Best Foreign Language Film. He followed this success with his take on the fairy tale Pinocchio (2002) and The Tiger and the Snow (2005), a comedy set at the start of the Iraq War.
A Jewish Italian waiter named Guido is sent to a Nazi concentration camp, along with his wife and their young son. Refusing to give up hope, Guido tries to protect his son's innocence by pretending that their imprisonment is an elaborate game.