Nanni Moretti's The Caiman and Michele Placido's Crime Novel scooped the lion's share of nominations for the David Di Donatellos, with 13 nods each.

Placido's crime epic and Moretti's political expose-cum-marital drama both earned nominations in all the main categories for Italy's top film awards, including best film, best director, and best screenplay.

Silvio Orlando and Kim Rossi Stuart also won best actor nominations for their roles The Caiman and Crime Novel, respectively.

Both films have found commercial as well as critical success in Italy.

Moretti's film, which provides a full frontal attack on prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ahead of the April 9-10 general elections, is currently number one in the box office. It has earned a huge $5.1m (Euros 4.2m) for Sacher Distribuzione since its release on March 24.

Crime Novel, which screened in competition in Berlin, grossed a solid $5.8m (Euros 4.8m) for Warner Bros Italy after its release last autumn.

"The Caiman and Crime Novel are films that reach the public, they speak about our own lives," said Caiman producer Angelo Barbagallo. "The Caiman is a good film and the public likes it."

Barbagallo says the marketing strategy which saw The Caiman's plot cloaked in secrecy before its release has paid off.

"Spectators want to go to the cinema to see the film without really knowing what they are going to see. Anyway, it's really difficult to say what the film is about in a two-line synopsis," he added.

Other films that earned multiple nominations at the Donatellos include Carlo Verdone's My Best Enemy, with 12 nominations, Sergio Rubini's La Terra and newcomer Fausto Brizzi's comedy The Night Before Exams.

The prizes will be handed out at a ceremony in Rome on April 21. The Consequences of Love was last year's top winner.