Leo Pescarolo, the Italian producer behind Federico Fellini's Prova D'Orchestra and co-producer of Lars von Trier's Dogville, has died. He was 70.

Born in Genova to silent-era movie star Vera Vergani, Pescarolo was known as a courageous producer who championed quality arthouse pictures and international co-productions.

He was credited with "discovering" a number of directors, such as Liliana Cavani and Francesca Archibugi, with whom he collaborated on several features, including the award-winning Albero Delle Pere.

His credits ranged from Marco Bellocchio's Devil In The Flesh to Raoul Ruiz's Time Regained, Louis Malle's Milou En Mai and Dancer In The Dark.

In Italy, Pescarolo was one of the first producers to support English-language international co-productions as well as the rise of audience-friendly local filmmaking.

He produced Giuliano Montaldo's Time To Kill with Nicolas Cage, and Miramax's English-language picture The Truce, which was directed by Francesco Rosi and based on author Primo Levi's memories of his return from Auschwitz.

"Italian directors are now thinking more about the audience. I can't stand it when directors say it's not necessary for their movies to be a commercial success," Pescarolo once told Screen International.

In addition to producing 33 films, Pescarolo was also known as a bon vivant and gourmet. For many years, he wrote a cooking column in La Repubblica newspaper.

Two years ago, disillusioned by the drawn-out financial crisis that hit the Italian film industry, Pescarolo moved to Rabat, Morocco, where he opened a popular restaurant.

Tributes from the Italian film industry have been pouring in. "He was a cultured and passionate producer, who loved good cuisine and travelling. A man whose taste was never banal, and a master of co-productions," said Gaetano Blandini, head of the Italian government's film department.