GENTLE GIANT STUDIOS

Italo fest offers eclectic mix of genre

ROME — U.S. studios will be out in force at the upcoming 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, where a wide range of genre pics will unspool, sandwiched in-between Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel” and Disney’s “The Lone Ranger.”

As previously announced, Zack Snyder’s “Superman” reboot will have its continental European bow in Taormina’s 8,000-seat ancient Greek theater on June 15 with Snyder and main cast in tow, including Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon.

Fox’s gender-bender “Trance” and also family comedy “Parental Guidance”; indie actioner “Java Heat”; Italo helmer Marco Risi’s Rome-set murder mystery “Cha Cha Cha”; Argentinian wife swap comedy “Dos mas dos” by Diego Kaplan; body-modification horror pic “American Mary” by Canada’s twin directorial duo Jen and Sylvia Soska; and gory chiller “The Collection,” by U.S. horror-meister Marcus Dunstan, are among other titles testifying the diversity of mostly mainstream fare that will launch internationally from Taormina into summer release slots.

Disney’s “Ranger,” the closer, will screen sans talent.

“We’ve delved into the belly of the most primal types of movies; the ones that draw the biggest crowds,” is how artistic director Mario Sesti explained his rather innovative fest concept at the Rome presser.

Riccardo Tozzi, prexy of Italo motion picture association ANICA, said he was confident that, thanks to its congenial timing and unique setting, the Taormina fest could help boost the country’s sagging box office, historically plagued by an audience exodus from movie theaters in summer, when locals hit the beach, though that is changing.

While not all Taormina pics will have talent in tow, the rebooted fest has recruited a trio of A-listers — Jeremy Irons, Meg Ryan and James Gandolfini – to hold onstage conversations, along with prominent Russian film personality Renata Litvinova (“Rita’s Last Fairy Tale”), and also a large local talent pool.

Gandolfini will chat on the Greek Theater stage with Italo helmer-gone-to-Hollywood Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”).

Industry events will include a panel on increasingly close ties between the Italo and Russian film industries, and a confab on generous Italian tax breaks.

Fest will run June 15-22.

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