Vittorio Taviani, award-winning Italian director, dead

ENTERTAINMENT-FILM/TAVIANI Director Vittorio Taviani gestures behind the Golden Bear award for the best film 'Caesare Deve Morire' | Reuters

Award-winning Italian director Vittorio Taviani is dead. He was 88.

His daughter Giovanna said he died here after prolonged illness, reported

Vittorio was the older of the prolific Taviani brothers who emerged in the 1970s as the respected filmmaking duo whose works blended neo-realism with more modern storytelling in works such as Padre Padrone, which won the 1977 Cannes Palme d'Or, World War II drama The Night of the Shooting Stars and Kaos, which is based on Italian dramatist and writer Luigi Pirandello.

Born in the Tuscan town of San Miniato, Vittorio and Paolo Taviani soon moved to nearby Pisa where as high-school students they became aspiring directors.

Years later, when they went to Cannes with Padre Padrone, they thought that they had started making movies thanks to director Roberto Rossellini and that he was awarding them the Palme d'Or was for them "like the closure of a splendid luminous circle."

More recently the Taviani brothers won the Berlin Golden Bear, in 2012, with Caesar Must Die, which is about high-security inmates acting Shakespeare, followed by "Wondrous Boccaccio", an adaptation of The Decameron and Una Questione Privata in 2017, based on a novella by Italian author Beppe Fenoglio.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella in a statement said the country is in mourning and called Vittorio Taviani "a beloved protagonist of Italian cinema and culture".

Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barbara mourned the death of Milos Forman as well as Vittorio.

"We owe them a great deal of our cinematic formation... And will remember them always with gratitude," tweeted Barbara.

The Tavianis received a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement from Venice in 1986.