'Toy Story 3' kicks off Taormina Fest

Robert De Niro to host master class Sunday

TAORMINA, Italy -- The 56th edition of the Taormina Film Festival got under way Saturday in three dimensions, with Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story 3" becoming the first major 3D film to premiere in an outdoor venue, the festival's famous Teatro Antico.
 
The high-tech 3D production directed by Lee Unkrich created a natural contrast when set against the 2,300-year-old Teatro Antico, which reportedly sold the last of the 3,000 available tickets shortly before the start of the screening.
 
The event was low key compared to previous blockbuster premieres in Taormina -- none of the film's talent made the trip to Sicily for the premiere, for example, and the producers were represented only by new Disney Europe President Diego Lerner -- but the film was well received by the enthusiastic sellout crowd.
 
Also on tap Saturday was the Pixar 3D short "Day & Night." The innovative six-minute film will precede "Toy Story 3" when it opens in wide release Friday.
 
On Saturday afternoon, "18 Comidas" (18 Meals) from Jorge Coira screened as part of Taormina's special focus this year on Spanish films.
 
Marco Bellocchio, the director most recently behind the 2009 Benito Mussolini biopic "Vincere," was presented with the first of five Taormina Arte awards Saturday. Later in the week, Robert De Niro and Colin Firth will receive the same honor.
 
Among Sunday's anticipated highlights: De Niro will host a master class and be on hand for a morning screening of his directorial effort "The Good Shepherd." The Teatro Antico will host Gareth Edwards' horror film "Monsters." The day will also see a handful of events tied to the Spain focus, and iconic designer Valentino Garavani will receive the festival's City of Taormina honor.
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