As part of the Roman Empire, Taormina was renowned for its fine wine and high-quality marble. Today the picturesque Sicilian town, with its sweeping view over the Strait of Messina, is best known for the film festival that bears its name — Italy’s oldest — that over the years has attracted such cinema legends as Marcello Mastroianni, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and John Huston.
This month the Taormina Film Festival celebrates its 60th anni by honoring the work of women in the movies, and female movie stars will play a prominent role in the festivities. The fest’s subtitle for 2014 is “60 years of women and their impact.”
“Women have contributed a lot to the movie business, and sometimes they are not as appreciated as men, and festivals forget to celebrate them,” says Tiziana Rocca, Taormina fest’s general manager.
Among the actresses who will be accepting honors at Taormina: Claudia Cardinale, Isabella Ferrari, Eva Longoria, Melanie Griffith, Paz Vega, Carmen Maura and Bo Derek.
Longoria will receive the Humanitarian Taormina Award for her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, which helps Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.
“I’m very excited to take part in this year’s Taormina Film Festival … celebrating its 60th edition and dedicating this important anniversary to women across the globe, helping them to build a better future,” Longoria says.
Cardinale, who has achieved iconic status among Italian thesps, will accept the Taormina Arte Award. Many of her films will be screened at the fest.
Also honored with the Arte Award: 20th Century Fox topper Jim Gianopulos.
Production designer Dante Ferretti (“Gangs of New York,” “Hugo”) and his wife and partner, set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo, will be among those receiving the Cariddi Award.
Taormina will open with DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” which will launch in Italy with a 3D screening in the fest’s 8,000-seat 2,300-year-old amphitheater, an outdoor venue that overlooks the Mediterranean. Helmer Dean DeBlois will be on hand for the occasion.
Other titles unspooling at the fest include Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” and Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York,” which was never released in Italy. “Synecdoche” presentation will be in homage to its star, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.