Giuseppe Tornatore's The Unknown (La Sconosciuta) and Nanni Moretti's The Caiman (Il Caimano) have tied as top contenders with seven nominations each for the Nastri D'Argento (Silver Ribbons), Italy's oldest film awards, voted by the national film journalist's union SNGCI.

The Wedding Director (Il Regista dei Matrimoni) directed by Marco Bellocchio and Italo-Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek's Saturn In Opposition (Saturno Contro) follow with six nominations each.

While the highest number of nominations this year has been given to affirmed directors, newcomers and festival entrants trailed closely behind.

Five nominations each were given to the films Salty Air (L'aria

Salata) by Alessandro Angelini, to Mario's War (La Guerra di Mario) by Antonio Capuano and to The Family Friend (L'Amico di Famiglio) by Paolo Sorrentino.

Actor Kim Rossi Stewart's first turn as a director in Along the Ridge (Anche Libero Va Bene) has earned him four nominations including the best first work nomination; Saverio Costanzo's Berlin contender In Memory of Myself (In Memoria di Me) and Emanuele Crialese's Silver Revelation Lion winner The Golden Door (Nuovomondo), which was also the Italian candidate to the foreign-language Oscar both received four nominations each.

And, since 2007 has been a good year for the Italian cinema industry the SNGCI decided to honor 'three people of the year' to local success stories.

The honor is being given to Fausto Brizzi whose Night before Finals - and its sequel Night before Finals - Today has contributed to this year's strong local box office.

Gabriele Muccino is also being honored as his first Hollywood film The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith grossed $21m locally.

The third recognition was handed to actor/director Michele Placido, for his 'extraordinary versatility' as an actor - he appeared in five of 2006's top films including Arrivaderci Amore, Ciao, Il Camaino, The Unknown, The Roses of the Desert, and Commediasexi.

The nominations were announced at Valentino's Mignanelli Palace in center Rome. Winners will be announced at the beginning of June and awards will be handed out June 23, at the close of the Taormina Film Fest together with the awarding of the 2007 'European Ribbon' prize.