Turkish cinema and an industry initiative that aims at uniting international buyers and distributors with the Sicilian Film Commission are all on the agenda of the 54th Taormina Film Festival, under the artistic direction of Deborah Young for the second year.
Additionally, Young's line up reflects the 'Mediterranean and beyond' format that she launched last year.
This year's edition will open with a newly restored version of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (ahead of its August DVD launch), which was shot in Sicily, not far from Taormina.
The main competitive Mediterranean section vying for the Golden Tauro features seven titles. Eye of the Sun (by Egypt's Ibrahim El Batout) and Tractor, Love and Rock 'N' Roll (from Slovenia's Branko Djuric) are both world premieres.
The other titles are Seyfi Teoman's Summer Book (Turkey); Jean Becker's Deux Jours a Tuer (France); Ahmed El Maanouni's Burned Hearts and Yousri Nasrallah's The Aquarium (Egypt). A seventh title is yet to be announced.
The Beyond the Mediterranean section -- eligible for an audience award -- includes two world premieres: The Wall by Mohammad Ali Talebi (Iran); and Inconceivable by Mary McGuckian (UK/US/Ireland). 14 Kilometers by Spanish director Gerardo Olivares and Come Back from Denmark's Ulrik Wivel round out the section.
A Turkish Gran Gala will be held and ten Turkish films will be screened during the festival. Young notes that German-Turkish director Faith Akin's Edge of Heaven will be the festival's closing film.
Akin will also give a master class on his work. Other master classes will be held by Sicilian actor Giuseppe Fiorello, British critic Anthony Lane (The New Yorker) who will be on hand to discuss the late Michelangelo Antonioni's film Il Grido and director Paul Schrader will discuss the demise of 35mm as digital cinema rises.
Young's mission is also to include Sicily in its most important festival and has created an industry initiative 'Spazio Taormina - Sicilia Film Commission' which will host international buyers and distributors while it aims at highlighting the region for location shoots.
Industry professionals who have already confirmed their attendance include Beki Probst, director of Berlin's EFM; Mohssen El Mokadem, General Manager of Qatar National Cinema and Film Distribution Company; Nashwa Al Ruwaini, CEO of Pyramedia Production Company and executive Director of Middle East International Film Festival; Alexandre Mallet Guy, Managing Director of France's Memento Films; Lissy Bellaiche of TrustNordisk Film International Sales; Paul Zonderland, Director of Buena Vista Italia/Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios; and Hisham F. Al-Ghanim, General Manager of Kuwait National Cinema Co.
Campus Taormina - another new section aims at drawing youth to the festival by allowing students to attend daily meetings with actors, actresses and guests.
The Taormina Film Festival runs from June 15-21.