Egyptian cinema and a new competitive section focusing on Mediterranean films are all on the agenda for the reinvigorated 53rd Taormina Film Festival.
Other features brought in for the new Mediterranean-heavy format, introduced by artistic director Deborah Young, include the first Giuseppe Tornatore retrospective and the revival of the Sicilian short film competition.
The festival, which runs June 16-22, will also host a non-competitive Beyond The Mediterranean section as well as a series of high profile masterclasses.
Young, an American and long-time film critic, has taken over the reins of the Sicilian film festival this year, making her the first woman and the first American to lead an Italian film festival.
The event is characterized by a close up look at movies from the Mediterranean world.
Egypt will be celebrated with a film per day retrospective of Egyptian productions in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the first screening of an Egyptian film (June 20, 1907). Taormina will host a gala on that date with Egypt's most important producers, directors and stars attending including actress Youssra and director Marwan Hamed (Yacoubian Building).
Deborah Young told journalists that the Mediterranean theme will be reinforced in future editions. 'We want Taormina to become the reference point for Middle Eastern cinema in Europe,' she said.
Taormina also aims to reinforce Sicily's cinematic identity through the first retrospective of Giuseppe Tornatore. Tornatore himself presented the retrospective to journalists Thursday.
The retrospective will include all of his feature films as well as restored documentaries from the 1980s, a 105-minute film composed from 500 Sicilian films as well as an 'abundance' of never before seen works by the Oscar-winning director.
Additionally, Young has reinstated the Sicilian short film competition. The winner of that section will travel with their film to Russia, the US and the Netherlands with the Florence-based promotional body NICE (New Italian Cinema Events).
The main competitive Mediterranean section features seven titles out of which four are world premieres: Uomo di Vetro by Stefano Incerti (Italy), Fuerte Apache by Jaime Matteo Androver (Spain), Two Women on the Road (Tarek el ayalat) directed by Faride Bourquia (Morocco) and 13 M2 directed by Barthelemy Grossman (France). The non-competitive Beyond the Mediterranean section focuses on titles from other parts of the world.
Taormina inaugurates a new prize with this edition - the Gold Tauro -a coin with a Greek symbol of a bull to be given out by a jury led by Luis Puenzo, the Oscar winning Argentine director.
Hollywood is also making a presence at the Sicilian event and the festival will open with Flyboys by Tony Bill. Transformers will have its Italian premiere in Taormina on June 21 (the film opens in Italy before it opens Stateside) with director Michael Bay and Shia Leboeuf present.
Finally, Young has orchestrated a series of master classes to be taught by Giuseppe Tornatore (director); Milena Canonero (Oscar winning costume designer); Terence Davies (director), Matt Dillon (actor) and one surprise master class to be announced.
Ennio Morricone will lead a concert of Tornatore film scores he composed on award night at the Greek-Roman theatre on closing night, June 22 in Taormina, which is at the base of Italy's Mt. Etna volcano.