'12 Years a Slave' Italian Premiere to Open Capri, Hollywood Fest

From "12 Years a Slave"

The event, which runs from late 2013 into 2014, will unveil its full lineup next month.

ROME -- Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave will screen in Italy for the first time as the opening-night film of the 18th Capri, Hollywood Film Festival, organizers said Monday.

The Dec. 27-Jan. 2 event, which takes place on the picturesque island of Capri, off the coast of Naples, is known for being the last film festival each year and the first of the following year. 

Pascal Vicedomini, the Capri festival's founder and director, called 12 Years a Slave "an astonishing achievement … [and] a consciousness-raising, crowning accomplishment for Steve McQueen."

The film nearly had its Italian premiere months earlier, but Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera reportedly balked at paying for a 50-person entourage to attend a potential world premiere in Venice. Barbera later told The Hollywood Reporter he was misquoted on the topic, as the film went on to wow critics at its Toronto premiere.

There was also speculation the film could have its Italy premiere at the festivals in Rome or Turin.

Instead, the Capri screening will be its first in Italy, where it is scheduled to go into wide release on Feb. 20.

The festival also announced that director Michael Radford, best known for 1996 Oscar-winning film Il Postino: The Postman, which won the Academy Award for best music and earned nominations for best film, as well as best director and best screenplay for Radford, will be the festival's honorary chairman.

Producer Marina Cicogna will be festival president, while fellow producer Mark Canton will be chair of the event's honorary board.

The festival, which will present an award for best Italian film of 2013, will unveil its full lineup in mid-December.

Twitter: @EricJLyman