The Italian director Nanni Moretti has won the Cannes film festival's coveted Palme d'Or award for his film 'The Son's Room', the tragic story of a family torn apart by the death of a child.

It is the first time an Italian film had taken the top prize honours at Europe's premier film competition since 1978.

Cult movie-maker David Lynch was named Best Director for his film 'Mulholland Drive'.

He shared the award with fellow American directors Joel and Ethan Coen for their latest offering, 'The Man Who Wasn't There'.

The other big winner of the night was Austrian director Michael Haneke's controversial film about voyeurism and masochism, 'The Piano Teacher', which picked up three prizes, including the Best Actress award for Isabelle Huppert.