The Taormina film festival is to move one month forward, in a bid to establish the event as a European launch-pad for summer blockbusters.

This year's edition will run from June 7 - 14.

Ever since he took over the festival's reins in 2000, former Venice director Felice Laudadio (pictured) has tried to lure big Hollywood movies and stars to the picturesque Sicilian town with the aim of spearheading summer programming in Italy and in Europe.

In 2000 he achieved a major coup - bringing Tom Cruise to Taormina to accompany Mission Impossible II, but since then it has been tough to lure enough star power and high-profile premieres to the festival to turn it into an A-list event for US distributors planning the international roll-out of their summer movies.

Laudadio first moved the festival from July to late June in 2001 and had originally planned an even earlier start in 2002. But the conflicting schedule of last year's football World Cup forced him to move the event back to July.

Laudadio, who is also head of the Viareggio Europa Cinema Film Festival, artistic director of the Venice Carnival, and head of the St. Vincent Prize for Italian films, hopes Taormina's new dates - as well as new willingness on the part of local distributors to launch films during the traditionally moribund summer months - will help boost the event's international profile.

The festival, which was last year renamed The Taormina BNL FilmFest following a significant three-year cash injection from Italian bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), will hold the European or world premiere of seven international movies in the town's 10,000-seater Ancient Greek amphitheatre.

The event will also host a "Shooting Stars" section, with 15 young European actors appearing in front of the public under an initiative supported by the Media Plus Programme and European Film Promotion.

Taormina will close on June 14th with the annual Nastri D'Argento awards ceremony, the second highest accolade for Italian films.