With half an eye on Italy, and Sicily in particular, but embracing the sun-drenched island’s history as a crossroads of nations, the 53rd Taormina Film Festival encapsulated the rejuvenated spirit inaugurated by new fest topper — and former Variety critic — Deborah Young.
Fest closed Friday.
Repositioning itself as a meeting place between East and West, the festival adopted a Mediterranean focus, welcoming pics from Turkey to Tunisia to Spain in its new Mediterranean competition. The closing night’s awards highlighted the fresh direction: Top film nod went to Nouri Bouzid’s “Making Of” (Tunisia), while director kudos were awarded to Israeli novice helmer David Volach for “My Father, My Lord.”
Script gong went to Salvatore Parlagreco and Heidrun Schleef for Italy’s “Man of Glass” (directed by Stefano Incerti), while a nod for top perf went to Lotfi Abdelli in “Making Of.”
The evening closed with an Italian staging of Ariel Dorfman’s play “Speaking Truth to Power,” in the presence of author Kerry Kennedy and producer Nan Richardson, accompanied by Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio.
Other highlights included master classes by Terence Davies, Goran Paskaljavic and Matt Dillon, plus a Giuseppe Tornatore retrospective.
A salute to Egyptian cinema was timed for the 100th anniversary of the nation’s film industry, celebrated with stars Youssra, Hend Sabry and Khaled El-Nabawy. But Taormina didn’t ignore Hollywood: “Transformers” made its roaring premiere in the town’s spectacular ancient Greek amphitheater. On hand were helmer Michael Bay and star Shia LaBeouf.
Like Hannah Schygulla, Margherita Buy, Andre Techine and others on previous evenings, Bay picked up a Taormina Arte Award, sponsored by Harry Winston.