Almodovar receives Italy's Order of Merit

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ROME -- Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar on Thursday was presented with the Commendation of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by Francesco Rutelli, Italy's minister of culture.

The ceremony at Palazzo Chigi followed a reception for the nominees for the David di Donatello Awards. But Almodovar opted out of participating in the early morning Donatello ceremony and received the award on his own.

Almodovar -- known for acclaimed films such as last year's Palme d'Or-nominated "Volver" and 2003 Oscar winner "Hable Con Ella" (Talk to Her) -- was given the award for his "contributions to European cinema and culture," according to the Italian government's Web site.

After putting the gold medal around Almodovar's neck, Rutelli said he hoped Almodovar will have continued successes.

"We hope that his cinematic biography will continue to be enriched as it has been enriched in recent years," the minister said.

The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is one of Italy's highest civilian awards.
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