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Last Updated: Friday, 19 October 2007, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Rome honours actress Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
Loren's films include A Special Day and Marriage Italian Style
Italian actress Sophia Loren has been given a lifetime achievement honour at the Rome Film Festival.

The Oscar-winning star, 73, received the award at a red carpet ceremony in the Italian capital on Thursday.

"It's the first time I have had a career award in Italy," she told reporters. "I hope I deserve it!"

The film festival, which runs until 27 October, will also see appearances from Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Redford and Halle Berry.

Friday was branded "Loren Day" at the event, with the actress answering questions from 700 fans, plus a screening of Marriage Italian Style, one of her most famous films.

The festival opened with the French film noir Le Deuxieme Souffle (Second Wind), starring Monica Bellucci as a gangster's moll.

Monica Bellucci
Second Wind is Monica Bellucci's first Italian film in four years
Bellucci, who dyed her hair blonde for the role, said she was inspired by "blonde French actresses of the '50s [such as] Bardot, Deneuve and Simone Signoret".

But the Italian actress admitted she had "happily" reverted to her natural brunette hairstyle after filming.

Second Wind is one of 14 in competition at the festival, along with Hector Babenco's El Pasado (The Past) and Reservation Road, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mira Sorvino.

Presented out of competition are Redford's Lions for Lambs, starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, and Jake Gyllenhaal's torture drama Rendition.

Director Francis Ford Coppola will also premiere his first release in 10 years, World War II film Youth Without Youth.

The festival, established last year, is the brainchild of Rome's mayor, film buff Walter Veltroni.

Pirelli calendar

Loren was born in 1934 and grew up in the slums of Naples.

She started working as a model at the age of 14, and was ushered into acting by future husband Carlo Ponti - who died earlier this year.

In 1962, she won a best actress Oscar for her role as Cesira, a woman who flees Rome with her daughter during World War II, in the Italian-language film Two Women.

She was also given an honorary Oscar for her body of work in 1991, when she was dubbed "one of the genuine treasures of world cinema".

Despite her age, Loren is regularly voted among the world's sexiest women, and posed for the Pirelli calendar last year.

Coppola film set for Rome debut
11 May 07 |  Entertainment
Loren poses for Pirelli calendar
06 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Loren voted most beautiful
05 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Italian film producer Ponti dies
10 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Rome festival keeps Bellucci busy
26 Oct 06 |  Entertainment

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