Vincenzo Cerami, an Italian writer who co-wrote the screenplay of “Life Is Beautiful,” Roberto Benigni’s award-winning tragicomedy about a father’s quest to save his son’s life and innocence amid the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, died July 17 in Rome. He was 72.

His death was widely reported by Italian media. The cause could not immediately be confirmed.

A protege of Pier Paolo Pasolini, the revered Italian writer and director, Cerami was a poet, novelist and playwright who wrote or co-wrote the screenplays of more than 40 films. His greatest success in the United States by far was “Life Is Beautiful.”

Few viewers of the 1999 Oscars ceremony could forget the sight of Benigni, the film’s director and star, exuberantly clambering over theater seats to collect the Academy Award for best foreign language film. Benigni won the award for best actor; he and Cerami were nominated for best original screenplay.

Cerami was born in Rome on Nov. 2, 1940. Survivors include his wife, Graziella Chiarcossi; a daughter from his first marriage; and a son from his second marriage.