Taormina Film Fest Debuts in Los Angeles January 20

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Thu, 01/07/2016 - 10:24 -- Nick Dager

The Taormina Film Fest comes to the United States for the first time with the debut of its Los Angeles edition January 20 at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood. Italian actress Valeria Golino (Rain Man) and Italian directors Elio Sofia, Francesco Cannavà and Ezio Costanzo will receive awards at the festival. 

A special award will be bestowed on Variety and will be accepted by executive editor Steven Gaydos in recognition of the outlet’s continuing support of international cinema in general and Italian cinema in particular.  More celebrities and films to be honored will be announced later this week.

“At last year’s festival in Taormina, we announced our intention to promote Italian filmmaking with a Los Angeles edition complete with Italian celebrities and directors,” said TFF general manager Tiziana Rocca.  “Our inaugural schedule is two days but we hope to grow the Los Angeles edition into a much more robust event in years to come.”  

TaorminaFilmFest@LosAngeles is produced in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of LA and its director, Valeria Rumori; the Italian Consulate in LA, and the Italian Trade Agency. Partners include world-renowned Italian jeweler Gerardo Sacco, who has worked on many international and Italian movies.

Gaydos said “My formative years as a film lover were forever enriched by the masters of that time in Italian cinema: Fellini, Visconti, Bellochio, Pontecorvo, Risi, Olmi, Antonioni, and so many others. My times in Italy, from the having a film honored in competition in Venice, visiting wonderful Rome, and now discovering the wonders of Taormina and all of Sicily, have all been life-enhancing experiences. So from my head and my heart and all my senses, my love and respect for Italy are as genuine and deep as the great country’s beauty and cultural riches.”

Among the film highlights are an award to Italian actress Valeria Golino (Rain Man) who stars in Per amor vostro, which is directed by Giuseppe M. Gaudino and will be screened in Los Angeles.  Also being screened are: Last Reel directed by Elio Sofia; Il Carnevale Eoliano, directed by Francesco Cannavà, and Phil Stern, directed by Ezio Costanzo and Filippo Arlotta.

There will also be an exhibit of internationally renowned American photographer Phil Stern.   Stern’s world famous photographic reportage of the Allied invasion of Sicily is considered among the most important war photography ever undertaken. 

Stern, now 92, will be on hand to discuss this seminal work and to attend the documentary on his life being shown at the festival.

Filmmaker and activist Cecilia Peck’s Brave Miss World, which was shown at Taormina in 2015, will also be offered. The film is an exploration of sexual violence and trauma seen through the eyes of a Miss World winner who was raped just weeks before the pageant.  Peck, daughter of Hollywood legend and Oscar-winning actor Gregory Peck, will host a cocktail reception for Festival VIPs at her late father’s residence in honor of TaorminaFilmFest@LosAngeles.