ROME – Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jim Gianopulos will be feted by Italy’s Taormina Film Festival with a lifetime achievement award during the event’s 60th edition which, as previously announced, will open June 14 with “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ from Fox/Dreamworks, screening in 3D in its unique 5,000 seat ancient outdoor Greek theatre.
“Dragon 2″ helmer Dean DeBlois and the animated sequel’s producer, Bonnie Arnold, will be on hand for the pic’s Italo launch in the Sicilian seaside resort.
Gianopulos will instead be making the trek for Taormina’s closer, on June 21, when a twenty minute sneak preview of Fox’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”will be followed by Ghanian-British director Amma Asante’s period piece “Belle,” from Fox Searchlight.
Other highlights of Taormina set for galas under the starry Sicilian sky include the European preem of Clint Eastwood’s tuner “Jersey Boys,” about the formation of 1960’s band The Four Seasons; Argentinian helmer Ariel Winograd’s comedy “To Fool a Thief”; Gallic bittersweet dramedy “In The Courtyard,” toplining Catherine Deneuve and directed by Pierre Salvadori; Italy-set British musical romcom “Walking on Sunshine,” by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini; and Diego Luna’s “Cesar Chavez” biopic from Lionsgate.
Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York,” will screen in a homage to its protagonist, Philip Seymour Hoffman, just as the 2008 pic gets a belated Italo micro-release via BIM Distribuzione. A Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute on June 17 in the Greek theatre will be introduced by Variety VP of film and talent Dawn Allen and by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Serge Rakhlin.
The fest is being relaunched in recent editions with a more mainstream format by artistic director Mario Sesti and general manager Tiziana Rocca who at Monday’s Rome presser both underscored how they’ve driven attendance up by 30 percent and strengthened the fest’s ties with Hollywood.
Stars set to make the Taormina trek include Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, John Turturro, and Paz Vega who will all hold TaoClass master classes.
As previously announced, Eva 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.
Claudia Cardinale is also being feted with a nod and screenings of several of her films.
Italy’s RaiCinema, the film arm of pubcaster RAI, will be honored for its role in supporting Italian cinema.
On the industry side, the fest will host Russian and Argentine delegations to forge closer ties with those two key markets.