Oscar-nominated Italian film director Ettore Scola dies at 84

Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:59pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Italian director Ettore Scola, whose Oscar-nominated films chronicled the growing pains, class divisions and frustrated idealisms of 20th century Italy, has died at the age of 84, his family said.

Scola died in a Rome hospital late on Tuesday night after being in a coma for several days.

Born in a small town in southern Italy, he directed some of the world's greatest actors, including Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Fanny Ardant and Jack Lemmon.

One of his most acclaimed films was the 1977 "A Special Day", which tells the story of a chance encounter of a few hours between Mastroianni, playing a homosexual about to be deported by fascists, and Loren as a repressed, sentimental housewife married to a hardcore follower of dictator Benito Mussolini.

"Ettore Scola had a refined intelligence, a beautiful type of irony about him, and he was a real gentleman," Loren told Italian television.

"A Special Day" was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film and Mastroianni was a nominee for best actor.

"He was an incredible and acute master in interpreting Italy, its society and its changes," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a tribute.

Scola, who started work as a screenwriter in 1953 and directed his first big film, "Let's Talk About Women", in 1964, was a student of Vittorio De Sica and his 1974 film "We All Loved Each Other So Much" was a tribute to the neo-realist director who died that year.   Continued...

Italian director Ettore Scola waves as he arrives during a red carpet for the movie "Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico - Scola racconta Fellini" during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 6, 2013. The movie debuts at the festival. 
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi