Former MPAA president andchief executive officer Jack Valenti has been made Knight of the Grand Cross ofthe Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, or Cavalier Di Gran Croce.

Prime Minister SilvioBerlusconi personally presented the honour during a ceremony at his officialresidence at Rome's Palazzo Chigi.

The Order of Merit of theRepublic of Italy was established in 1951 and is the government's highestcivilian award in recognition of eminent service to the Republic of Italy.

In a statement Valenti, whowas previously Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy,said: "I cannot imagine a higher compliment than to be recognised for doingwhat I have tried to do on behalf of the global film community, in particular, thegifted men and women in the Italian film community."

The order has five ranks:Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight.