Ermanno Olmi's 16th century war epic The Profession Of Arms swept the board at the David di Donatello awards - Italy's Oscars - scooping nine prizes last night (April 10), including best film, best director and best screenplay.

The Profession Of Arms won a prize in every category it was nominated in, beating out its two main rivals, Giuseppe Piccioni's Light Of My Eyes - which received the award for best sound - and Silvio Soldini's Burning In The Wind, which left empty-handed.

The audience gave the veteran auteur a rapturous standing ovation as he mounted the podium in Rome's Cinecitta Studios to receive the award for best film.

Olmi addressed the gathering, as well as the cinema-going public watching the event live on RAI1, with a plea to support local films:
I would like to dedicate this prize to Italian spectators; I would like Italian spectators to love Italian cinema. When we see box office figures which show US films at the top and Italian films way down the list, I'd like to say to Italians, be proud of your cinema,
the director said.

The Best Actor prize went to international favourite Giancarlo Giannini who portrayed a man suffering from Downs-syndrome in Ti Voglio Bene Eugenio, while Best Actress went to Marina Confalone for her part in the comedy Incantesimo Napoletano.

Prizes also went to Stefania Sandrelli as best supporting actress in Marco Bechis's Figli-Hijos, and best supporting actor Libero De Rienzo for Marco Ponti's comedy Santa Maradona. Ponti also won the best emerging director prize.

During the glitzy ceremony, awards presenter Milly Carlucci announced that Marco Bellocchio's Hour Of Religion will be screened in competition at Cannes.

Other highlights of the evening included a rendition of New York New York by Liza Minelli, who received a special career Donatello, and appearances by Roger Moore and Roberto Benigni, who presented a Donatello award to the late production designer Danilo Donati, who passed away just as filming ended on the Pinocchio set he designed for the Tuscan comic.

Career awards were presented to Franco Zeffirelli, who showed a brief preview of his eagerly-anticipated Callas Forever, and E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi.

Full list of winners:

Best Film
The Profession Of Arms

Best Director
Ermanno Olmi (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Emerging Director
Marco Ponti (Santa Maradona)

Best Screenplay
Ermanno Olmi (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Producer
Luigi Musini, Roberto Cicutto, Ermanno Olmi, Rai Cinema, StudioCanal, Taurusproduktion (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Actress
Marina Confalone (Incantesimo Napoletano)

Best Actor
Giancarlo Giannini (Ti Voglio Bene Eugenio)

Best Supporting Actress
Stefania Sandrelli (Figli)

Best Supporting Actor
Libero De Rienzo (Santa Maradona)

Best Cinematographer
Fabio Olmi (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Music
Fabio Vacchi (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Editor
Paolo Cottignola (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Costumes
Francesca Sartori (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Set Designer
Luigi Marchioni (The Profession Of Arms)

Best Foreign Picture
The Man Who Wasn't There, Joel Coen

David di Donatello School Prize
Vajont, Renzo Martinelli