New sponsors reinvigorate Taormina

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ROME -- Sicily's Taormina Film Festival will once again be an eight-day affair when its 53rd edition kicks off this June, thanks to a trio of new sponsors who will make up for last year's departure of a leading sponsor.

In 2006, the Rome-based Banca Nazionale di Lavoro, or BNL, which had donated €500,000 ($660,000) to Taormina's budget the year prior, pulled out at the 11th hour and threw its weight behind the RomaCinemaFest, which held its inaugural edition in October.

BNL's departure forced Taormina's then-director Felice Laudadio to reduce the festival's program from eight to six days, eliminate a number of screenings and cancel invitations to the event extended to several international personalities.

But for this year's events, Swiss jewelry and watchmaker Harry Winston, Italian business solutions company Atena and the Banco di Sicilia have combined to provide €1.2 million ($1.6 million) in new funding. The regional Sicilian government also has upped its financial backing of the event, though the actual value of the increase was not released.

Additionally, Laudadio's replacement, Deborah Young, on Wedensday announced that a theme for the June 16-22 festival will be the Mediterranean, including a retrospective dedicated to 50-year-old director Giuseppe Tornatore, best known for his 1988 film "Cinema Paradiso," which won the 1989 foreign-language film Oscar as well as a special jury prize at the Festival de Cannes.
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