Sophia Loren wins David di Donatello Award for Best Actress

Giorgio Diritti's Volevo Nascondermi won seven David di Donatello awards including best film and best actor prize for Elio Germano. 

Oscar-winning Italian actress Sophia Loren scooped a David di Donatello award, Italy's top film prize, for best actress at a ceremony in Rome last night.

Loren won the accolade for her lead role as Madame Rosa in La Vita Davanti a Sé (The Life Ahead), directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.

In the film Loren plays a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor who forges an unlikely bond with a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant boy.

"The emotion is the same as the first David 60 years ago, perhaps even greater," said a visibly moved Loren on stage after she received a standing ovation.

This is a record-breaking seventh David di Donatello for the veteran actress, 86, who said she would share the prize with her young co-star Ibrahima Gueye whom she called a "wonderful, magical child."

"I don't know if this will be my last film but I still want to make more, even more beautiful" - Loren said - "I absolutely cannot live without cinema!"

Volevo Nascondermi (Hidden Away) was the big winner at the 66th edition of the awards, held simultaneously at Fabrizio Frizzi television studios and Rome's opera house, for social distancing reasons due to covid-19 protocols.

The movie by Giorgio Diritti won a David for best film and best director, and its star Elio Germano scooped the best actor award for his role as the primitivist painter Antonio Ligabue.

The debut director award went to Pietro Castellito for his dark comedy I Predatori (The Predators), with the 29-year-old saluting his parents, film director Sergio Castellitto and Italian-Irish author Margaret Mazzantini.

The best documentary David went to Alex Infascelli’s My Name is Francesco Totti while the best supporting actor and actress awards went to Matilda De Angelis and Fabrizio Bentivoglio respectively for L'incredibile storia dell'isola delle rose (The Incredible Story of Rose Island) by Sidney Sibilia.

The ceremony included Laura Pausini performing Io Sì (Seen), the Golden Globe-winning song from the soundtrack to La Vita Davanti a Sé, with orchestral tributes to the late Ennio Morricone conducted by the composer's son Andrea, featuring the Cinema Paradiso aria and Deborah’s Theme from Once Upon a Time in America.

The televised awards also saw a standing ovation in memory of the much-loved Roman actor and director Gigi Proietti who died in Rome last November.