Rome, Jan 20: Film director Ettore Scola, a leading figure in Italian cinema for more than three decades, has died at the age of 84, local media reported.
Scola's work included "A Special Day," a 1977 Oscar- nominated movie featuring Marcello Mastroianni as a persecuted radio journalist and Sophia Loren as a sentimental housewife, meeting against a backdrop of rising fascism in 1930s Italy.
He also wrote and directed "We All Loved Each Other So Much," a 1974 comedy-drama about the post-war lives of three partisans fighting for the liberation of Italy. Scola died in Rome's polyclinic yesterday, where he had been in a coma since Sunday after being admitted to the hospital's cardiac surgery unit, press reports said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi paid tribute to Scola, saying he was a "master" of the screen, "with an ability that was as incredible as it was razor-sharp in reading Italy, its society and the changes it went through."
After entering the movie industry as a screenwriter in 1953, Scola got his first chance as director in 1964 with "Let's Talk About Women" - an innovative work of nine vignettes in which Vittorio Gassman plays different characters who seduce women.
He directed 41 films over nearly 40 years, according to the Internet movie database, IMDb. Paolo Mereghetti, the Corriera della Sera daily's cinema critic, said Scola was a distinctive "political" voice in Italy's postwar cinema.
A former member of the Italian Communist Party, Scola even became minister of culture in a "shadow" cabinet set up by party leaders in 1989. "He understood where Italy was going, and few cinema directors have that insight," Mereghetti told the television channel Sky TG24.