Hellman began his career under the guidance of Roger Corman and showed considerable promise with his off-beat 1960s Westerns and his Warren Oates vehicles of the 70s, particularly "Two-Lane Blacktop"...
The 39 year old scooped the Golden Lion on Saturday (11Sep10) for her movie Somewhere, which tells story of a bad-boy actor whose life is changed after his young daughter comes to stay.
Tarantino chaired the Italian festival's jury - but local journalists claim he favoured Coppola, who he dated in the early 2000s, and one of his mentors, Monte Hellman, who was handed a lifetime achievement prize.
However, the moviemaker has hit back at his critics, insisting the winners' work was all he focused on - not his personal relationships with the nominees.
He says, "I wasn't going to let anything like that affect me at all. I was just going to literally respond to the film. There was no me steering any direction. Being her friend didn't affect me or make me sway the jury in any way.
"The other members of the jury don't know her at all. They just loved the film. We kept coming back to it, as one of us said, because 'It's a great f**king movie', all right?"
The outcry came after the filmmaker's former lover Sophia Coppola claimed the festival's main prize, the Golden Lion, on Saturday (11Sep10) for her drama Somewhere.
Tarantino has since insisted her win was unanimous, but the local media is still questioning the director's choice, especially after his friend Alex de la Iglesia won two prizes for his film Balada triste de trompeta and one of his mentors, Monte Hellman, was handed a lifetime achievement prize created by the jury, led by the moviemaker.
And now the Kill Bill director has become the target of Italian critics, who have accused him of favouritism.
Leading film writer Paolo Mereghetti tells the Correre della Sera newspaper, "The presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of turning into the most obvious conflict of interest possible."
Other journalists have questioned why de la Iglesia's film was such a hit, when the movie was largely panned in Italy.
Festival bosses have yet to comment on the controversy.
Hellman began his career under the guidance of Roger Corman and showed considerable promise with his off-beat 1960s Westerns and his Warren Oates vehicles of the 70s, particularly "Two-Lane Blacktop" (1971). Lack of commercial success subsequently stymied his directing career.