Oscar-nominated screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami has died at the age of 72.

He passed away in his native city of Rome, Italy on Wednesday (17Jul13) after a lengthy battle with ill health.

Cerami began his film career working with his former teacher Pier Paolo Pasolini, and he went on to act as assistant director on the famed Italian director's movie The Hawks and the Sparrows in 1964.

After turning to writing, his first novel, An Average Little Man, was published in 1967, and it was adapted into a film starring Shelley Winters in 1977.

His first screenwriting gig came in 1974 with The First Time on the Grass, but his most famous work is 1997's Life is Beautiful, which won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The film landed three Oscars - Best Actor for Roberto Benigni, as well as Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Foreign Language Film.

Benigni, who also worked with Cerami on The Little Devil, Pinocchio and The Tiger and the Snow, says of his former collaborator, "He is the one person who has taught me how to strike people's feelings, how to make people emotional."