Veteran Italian filmmaker Ettore Scola passed away Tuesday in Rome. Local media reported he had been in a coma since Sunday. He was 84. A director and screenwriter, Scola was considered to be among the last of a generation of Italian greats; politically engaged and with a keen eye for the issues facing his country. He was a fixture in Cannes in the 70s and 80s and four movies he directed were nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Scola began his career as a screenwriter in 1953 and went on to direct 1964’s Let’s Talk About Women. His 1974 We All Loved Each Other So Much starred Vittorio Gassman and brought international recognition, winning a César Award for Best Foreign Film. With 1976’s Ugly, Dirty And Bad, he took the Best Director prize in Cannes.

He is perhaps best remembered for 1977’s A Special Day which won a Golden Globe and was nominated for two Oscars: One for Best Foreign Language Film and one for Marcello Mastroianni as Best Actor. Mastroianni played a persecuted radio journalist in the movie whose backdrop was the rising tide of facism in 1930s Italy. Sophia Loren also starred.

His other films to score Oscar nominations include Viva Italia!, Le Bal and The Family. In 2013, he was honored with the Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the Venice Film Festival which coincided with the screening of his last film, Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico!, a reflection on his 50-year relationship with Fellini. In 2014, the restoration of A Special Day took the Venice Classics prize.

The festival today tweeted: “Farewell to the great director and screenwriter, a symbol of Italian cinema culture.”

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French film organization ARP said in a statement that Scola’s films “will forever embody a vision of society that is sometimes political, sometimes grotesque, but always fair — equally full of irony and humanity.”

Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, wrote that Scola was a master with an incredible capacity for reading Italy and its changes. His death, he said, “leaves an enormous void in Italian culture.”

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