Lakhmari takes directing award

MILAN — Hatem Ali’s political drama “The Long Night,” which looks at Syria’s treatment of dissidents, scooped the Golden Tauro award at the Taormina Film Festival on Saturday.

The jury cited the film’s “elegant and cinematic way to tell a story that deals with moral and political issues.”

The prize for director went to Nour-Eddine Lakhmari for “Casanegra,” which shines a light on the seedier side of Casablanca, while Emilie Dequenne won actress for her performance in Andre Techine’s “The Girl on the Train.”

“Zrubavel,” directed Shmuel Beru, which examines the difficulties faced by Israel’s immigrant Ethiopian community, scooped the Jury’s Special Prize.

In the global Beyond the Mediterranean competition, the Audience Award went to “Corso: The Last Beat,” a portrait of Beat Generation poet Gregory Corso, by U.S. helmer-producer Gustave Reininger.

Hollywood was represented by Jessica Lange who, along with three other along leading ladies of the bigscreen — Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant and Dominique Sanda — was presented with the Taormina Arte Award. The fest, the Sicilian resort’s 55th, opened with the world premiere of Sandra Bullock laffer “The Proposal.”

Center of the action was Taormina’s majestic Greco-Roman amphitheater, the Teatro Anticao.

Fest’s expansion into other Sicilian cities — Palermo, Syracuse and Palma di Montechiaro — widened its reach. Organizers said they would like the event to spread out to surrounding cities next year but said it would need more promotion to boost attendance.

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