Ettore Scola, perhaps best known for "We All Loved Each Other So Much," has died at the age of 84. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the Italian director's death had left "an enormous hole in Italian culture."
Italian state radio, RAI, and ANSA news agency said Ettore Scola died late on Tuesday in a Rome hospital, two days after going into a coma.
Born in 1931 in Trevico near Naples, Scola initially began studying medicine, but changed to law before working in film. After starting out as a screenwriter, he went on to lead a long successful career in film. Widely regarded as a staunch Leftist, Scola became known for his quiet, compassionate and socially critical cinema.
'Master of the unbelievable'
Following his 1970 breakthrough, "Dramma della gelosia - Tutti i particolari in cronaca" (Jealousy, Italian Style), Scola directed a string of award-winning films, including his 1977 tableau about post-war Italy "We All Loved Each Other So Much," and the Oscar-nominated "A Special Day," featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren as neighbors who meet during Hitler's visit to Italy in 1938.
He was also awarded the best director prize at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival for "Brutti, Sporchi, Cattivi" ("Ugly, Dirty and Bad").
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi paid tribute to Scola on Twitter, describing the late director as a master of the unbelievable and praising him for having an "astute ability to read Italy, the society and its variations."
Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said Scola was "a great master and an extraordinary man who remained young until the last days of his life."
ksb/sms (dpa, AP)