Event shifts focus to global comedies

ROME — Sophia Loren will be feted by Italy’s Taormina Film Festival, which is being transformed from a mostly arthouse showcase to a populist event dedicated to global comedies.

Loren, who has starred in hit laffers on both sides of the pond, including “Marriage Italian Style” opposite Marcello Mastroianni and “The Millionairess” with Peter Sellers, will receive the Taormina Arte Award honoring the actress who “more than anyone, has become a global ambassador of Italian style,” the fest said.

Helmer Terry Gilliam will also make the trek to the 58th Sicilian shindig to pick up a nod and hold a masterclass.

Lebanese helmer Nadine Labaki will also be feted. New fest topper Mario Sesti, who masterminded Taormina’s move to comedy, praised Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?,” in which Christian and Muslim women co-exist peacefully, for achieving great depth in a comedy about a hot-button issue.

Sesti, speaking of his new vision for the Italo event, said that there are “no serious comedy festivals” on the international circuit.

As previously announced, Fox’s “The Three Stooges” will launch in Europe from the giant outdoor screen of the 3,000-seat Greek Theater at Taormina where Disney’s 3D toon fantasy “Brave” will be the opener.

Other titles unspooling at this year’s non-competitive edition comprise EuropaCorp’s romantic comedy “Love Lasts Three Years,” helmed by scribe Frederic Beigbeder, Lawrence Kasdan’s “Darling Companion,” and his son Jonathan Kasdan’s teen comedy “The First Time.”

Taormina runs June 22 to 28.

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