In what is shaping up to be a landmark year for Italian cinema, red hot local directors Gabriele Muccino and Ferzan Ozpetek have earned nine nominations each at the Nastri D'Argento, Italy's second highest film accolade.

Hot on the heels of Muccino's ensemble bittersweet drama, Remember Me, and Ozpetek's Facing Windows was Gabriele Salvatores's Berlin hit I'm Not Scared, which earned seven nods in the main categories.

Also in the running with six nominations is Roberta Torre's Mafia tale Angela, while Matteo Garrone's The Embalmer, Daniele Vicari's Maximum Velocity and Enzo Monteleone El Alamein were each nominated in five categories.

The awards, which are handed out by the SNCCI (the national Italian critics' union) will be handed out in the Sicilian town of Taormina on June 14th, on the last day of the BNL Taormina Film Festival (June 7th-14th).

Reflecting the wealth of strong Italian titles on release this year, the SNCCI decided to raise the number of nominations from five to six in several of the main categories.

"We wanted to underline the richness of themes, ideas and innovations of Italian cinema this year. It's been a lucrative year, in spite of ups and downs at the box office," the SNCCI said.

Other films earning multiple nods for the Nastri D'Argento are Michele Placido's A Voyage Called Love (4 nominations), Roberto Faenza's The Soul Keeper (4), Pupi Avati's Cannes contender The Heart Elsewhere (3), Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (3) and Roberto Vicentini Orgnani's Ilaria Alpi - Il Piu Crudele dei Giorni (3).

Also earning three nominations each are Carlo Verdone's Ma Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi, Francesco Patierno's Pater Familias, Mimmo Calopresti's La Felicita' non Costa Niente and Sergio Rubini's Anima Gemella.