Film fest focuses on Mediterranean cinema

ROME — Turkish cinema will take centerstage at the 54th Taormina Film Festival, where movies from the Mediterreanean basin will loom large while Hollywood offerings are slim and Italian fare is notably absent.

In her second edition at the helm of the June 15-21 Sicilian event, former Variety film critic Deborah Young has assembled a seven-title Mediterranean competition including Turkish first-timer Seyfi Teoman’s “Summer Book,” which unspooled in Berlin; the world preem of Egyptian helmer Ibrahim El Batout’s sophomore feature “Eye of the Sun”; and Slovenian thesp-helmer Branko Djuric’s “Tractor, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” set in the Communist-era 1960s.

“We have consolidated our identity as being a Mediterranean cinema fest, also open to world cinema,” said Young.

Taormina’s noncompetitive Beyond the Mediterranean section will include Spanish helmer Gerardo Olivares’ “14 Kilometros,” about young Africans trying to cross the border from Morocco into Spain; Mike Figgis’ “Love Live Long,” which unspooled in Tribeca; and Irish helmer Mary McGuckian’s test-tube baby satire “Inconceivable,” toplining Andie MacDowell.

Among the more mainstream pics unspooling in Taormina’s spectacular ancient Greek theater are a freshly restored print of “The Godfather,” partly shot near Taormina; David Mamet’s martial arts pic “Red Belt”; and Keanu Reeves cop actioner “Street Kings.”

Turkish-born Italian helmer Ferzan Ozpetek will head the jury, which also includes Sarajevo Film Festival director Mirsad Purivatra and Portuguese producer Paulo Branco.

New Yorker film crtitic Anthony Lane, U.S. helmer Paul Schrader and Turkish/Teutonic helmer Fatih Akin will hold master classes.

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