Young transforms Taormina

Hollywood, Med fare share limelight

ROME — The 53rd TaorminaFilmFest will feature a mix of Hollywood goods and Middle Eastern flavors, with the Italian preems of “Transformers,” “Lucky You” and “Flyboys” unspooling alongside a new Mediterranean competish, and a focus on Egyptian cinema.

“Transformers” helmer Michael Bay and star Shia LaBeouf will attend a red carpet preem of the L.A.-set actioner June 21 in the Sicilian sea town’s spectacular Greek Theater.

“The return of the U.S. majors on Taormina’s stage this year is a clear signal of their renewed interest in the festival’s capability to become an important showcase for international cinema,” boasted fest’s new artistic director Deborah Young.

Taormina’s new Mediterranean section will include four world preems: Italo anti-Mafia pic “L’Uomo di Vetro,” by Stefano Incerti, Spanish social drama “Fuerte Apache” by Jaime Matteo Adrover, Moroccan road pic “Two Women on the Road” by Farida Bourquia, and Gallic crimer “13 M2” by Barthelemy Grossman.

The high-profile jury will be headed by Argentine helmer Luis Puenzo and comprise Tribeca topper Peter Scarlet, Serbian helmer Goran Paskaljevic and Egyptian helmer Marwan Hamed.

Taormina’s ancient open-air venue will host a gala on June 20 celebrating the centennial of Egyptian cinema with Egyptian industryites and talent in attendance, including popular actress and singer Youssra and Cairo International Film Festival topper Ezzat Abo Ouf.

An Egyptian cinema sidebar highlighting recent productions will also unspool, curated by critic Samir Farid. Egypt is the first country on the Mediterranean basin to be celebrated by the fest under its new regime.

“The idea is for Taormina’s new Mediterranean identity to distinguish it from the multitude of Italian fests,” said Young, who replaces Felice Laudadio at the helm of the age-old Italo event that has had its ups and downs over the years.

Sicily’s own Giuseppe Tornatore is being honored with a complete retro.

The TaorminaFilmFest will run June 16-22.

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