Sophia Coppola's 'Somewhere'What's the statute of limitations for Hollywood relationships? Quentin Tarantino has been accused by the Italian press of favoritism after ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola's latest film won the top prize of the Venice Film Festival. Tarantino served as head of the jury, which also awarded prizes to his friend Alex de la Iglesia and one of his mentors, Monte Hellman.

Somewhere, Coppola's drama starring Stephen Dorff as an actor spiraling into despair, received such a tepid critical response that it's been written off as a potential awards contender, though Dorff received good notices for his work. (It's due out in theaters on December 22.) Balada Triste de Trompeta won screenplay and director prizes for Spanish director de la Iglesia, though an informal critics' poll ranked it just 17th out of 24 films in competition. Hellman's latest, Road to Nowhere, also failed to impress local critics, though his award was a lifetime achievement prize.

Tarantino, who hugged Coppola on stage after the award was announced, claims he wasn't influenced by relationships and denies that he forced the jury to go along with him: "I was just going to literally respond to the film." He added: "There was no me steering any directions. Sofia doesn't know any of these other people on the jury and her prize was unanimous."

Major film festivals love having prominent actors and directors serving on award juries -- it ensures additional star power and attention to the awards -- and it's practically impossible to avoid conflicts of interest, especially since jury selection and film selection are carried out independently at most festivals. Italian critics may have hoped that Italian-made films would receive a prize or two to bolster the local film industry, which has generally been described as beleaguered for more than 20 years.