ROME — Nanni Moretti’s compassionate comedy “Habemus Papam,” about a panicked newly elected pontiff, is the top contender for Italy’s Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) prizes, the country’s oldest film nods.

Considered the most mainstream work by the Italo auteur, Moretti’s “Papam” has scooped seven ribbons nominations, including for director, producer (Domenico Procacci), story idea, cinematography, set design and editing.

“Papam,” which recently unspooled in the Cannes competish and stars Gallic thesp Michel Piccoli as the pontiff and Moretti himself as the Pope’s psychoanalyst, is playing well at the Italo box office, having scored $7.7 million in six weeks via 01 Distribuzione. In Cannes it was sold widely by Fandango Portobello to more than 30 territories, with a U.S. deal deemed imminent.

Two other, more commercial, Italo laffers are the other front runners in the Ribbons race: Luca Miniero’s “Welcome to the South,” a remake of Gallic megahit “Welcome to the Sticks,” and Massimiliano Bruno’s “Nessuno Mi Puo Giudicare,” starring hot TV comic Paola Cortellesi as a young mom who becomes a hooker.

Both these pics scored six Ribbon noms each.

Established in 1946 and voted on by members of Italy’s film journalists union, Sngci, the Nastri d’Argento kudos are Italy’s oldest film prizes.

The winners will be announced June 25 during a televised gala at the Taormina Film Festival.