Taormina off to fast start

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Giuseppe Tornatore was presented with the Taormina Art Award and Tony Bill's World War I drama "Flyboys" and Curtis Hanson's "Lucky You" screened at the 2,300-year-old Greek Theatre during the opening weekend of the 53rd Taormina FilmFest.

Both films from the festival's opening nights received enthusiastic applause at Taormina's ancient cliffside amphitheater, which overlooks the sea with the majestic Mt. Etna volcano towering in the distance.

Tornatore will be the subject of a special retrospective at this year's festival, which opened Saturday and will run through Friday. His best-known film — the 1989 Oscar winner "Cinema Paradiso" — screened at midnight Saturday to a nearly packed house, and other films from the Sicilian native, including several little-known shorts, will screen during the week.

Sunday's main screening was of the poker drama "Lucky You," which stars Drew Barrymore, Eric Bana and Robert Duvall. Bana and Duvall were on hand for the premiere, which screened to a capacity crowd.

Taormina is recasting itself this year as a Mediterranean event, highlighting cultural ties to all corners of the region. In that vein, the schedule later in the week will include events to celebrate the centennial of Egyptian cinema.

But the most awaited event of the festival will be Thursday's premiere of the mega-budget summer thriller "Transformers," which will include an appearance from director Michael Bay, much of the cast and officials from Paramount.
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