'Dalla Vita in Poi' takes top Taormina prizes
Robert De Niro, Colin Firth also honored at the festival
Also on Friday, "Friendship!," a comedy from German director Markus Goller, won the prize as the best film from beyond the Mediterranean, while Emir Kusturica, the Serbian director, was honored for the Mediterranean prize for Dialogue Between Cultures co-sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter. Late Thursday, actor Colin Firth received the fifth and final Taormina Arte honor.
The main jury, headed by Berlin International Film Festival artistic director Dieter Kosslick, gave most of its honors to "Dalla Vita in Poi," the only Italian film in the prestigious Mediterranean competition, an intellectual love story centered on the letters of Katia, a woman with muscular dystrophy.
Cristiana Capotondi, a Roman actress, won her first-ever international prize with the award for best actress for her portrayal of Katia. Filippo Nigro, who played Danilo, Katia's love interest, won the best actor prize.
The only Mediterranean prize that did not go to "Dalla Vita in Poi" was awarded to Jorge Coira, whose "18 Comidas" (18 Meals) won him the best director honor. The film tells a group of intersecting stories centering on what characters do while eating 18 meals.
Among the festival's earlier highlights, Robert De Niro was given his own Taormina Arte Award, on his first visit to Sicily since the end of filming of his Oscar-winning performance in "The Godfather II" 37 years ago.
Additionally, Iranian director Jafar Panahi was presented with a Taormina Arte prize in absentia, unable to travel so soon after his release from jail in Tehran. Designer Valentino Garavani was honored with the City of Taormina prize.
The festival also mourned author and critic Peter Brunette, who died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack. Brunette was in Taormina to review films for THR.