French actor Michel Piccoli clinches Italian film prize

The Taviani brothers won a best film award in Italy on Friday for a movie about prisoners staging William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar", while best actor went to French actor Michel Piccoli.

The David di Donatello prizes are awarded by the Italian film academy.

The 86-year-old Piccoli starred as a pope who needs a psychiatrist to overcome his panic in "Habemus Papam" ("We Have a Pope") by Italian director Nanni Moretti, who heads up the jury for the Cannes film festival this month.

Piccoli began his career in 1954 and has since acted in around 170 films.

He won best actor in Cannes in 1980 for Italian film "Salto Nel Vuoto" ("Leap in the Dark") by Marco Bellocchio about a judge consumed by jealousy.

Best actress went to China's Zhao Tao for "Io Sono Li", a film about a Chinese immigrant who works as a barmaid in the Venice lagoon town of Chioggia.

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani also won the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival earlier this year with their docu-drama "Caesar Must Die," which is shot entirely inside Rome's Rebibbia jail with prisoners as protagonists.

Best screenplay at Friday's awards went to Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello for "This Must Be the Place" starring Sean Penn as a middle-aged rock star who starts a quest to look for a Nazi war criminal.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano spoke to award nominees on Thursday, saying: "There needs to be a restoration of the cultural, moral and idealistic dimension of cinema. Cinema can help restore confidence in our country."

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