Paramount’s latest restoration of what is arguably one of the greatest films of all time, conducted under Coppola’s watchful eye, will be kicking off the eastern Sicilian fest in its spectacular 8,000-seat ancient Greek theater in the shadow of the island’s active Mount Etna volcano.
The 50th edition of “The Godfather” was released in U.S. theaters in February to robust box office results and subsequently played in the Cannes Cinema de la Plage section, though Coppola wasn’t in attendance.
“Having the master Francis Ford Coppola inaugurate our 68th edition fills us with pride and joy,” reads a statement from Taormina’s trio of artistic directors, Francesco Alò, Alessandra De Luca and Federico Pontiggia.
“Attending the screening of ‘The Godfather’ at the ancient theater in the presence of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, will make it an unmissable event,” they added.
Some of the most iconic scenes in “The Godfather” were shot on location in Sicily.
Interestingly, the last Coppola film to play Taormina, which is among Italy’s oldest festivals, was “Apocalypse Now Redux” in 2001. Then, the film’s on-screen flames were echoed by real exploding lava from the ever-volatile Mount Etna. As the festival’s annals have it, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro called Coppola in California and told him what was happening, to which he replied: “They turned it on.”
Coppola’s long-gestating dream project, “Megalopolis” — which he has described as being set in a utopian version of New York City called New Rome, but having elements of an ancient Rome epic — is set to start shooting in August with Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight and Laurence Fishburne attached to star.
The 68th edition of Taormina will run June 26-July 2.