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ISCHIA, Italy – The 10th edition of the Ischia Global Film & Music Fest got underway with second-ever screening of Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, a film project born at the festival two years ago, and a special prize to famed music producer Clive Davis.
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The festival got underway Saturday, and its opening three days were packed with activity, including the opening of a photo exhibition of Liz Taylor from photographer Richard Young, who received the Ischia Art Award; the Monday night screening of Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman, a post-apocalyptic interpretation of the classic Snow White fable; an international panel discussing key issue related to piracy; and the start of eight days of acting workshops led by noted acting coach Bernard Hiller, said to be the first time a full acting class took place in conjunction with a film festival.
Writer, director, and actor Terry Gilliam was scheduled to receive the Keys to the City from Ischia Monday night, but his late arrival to the festival delayed the honor until Tuesday.
Sunday’s screening took place in the festival’s intimate invitation-only lagoon screening venue, where the moviegoers are seated on a dock and the film is projected onto a giant screen on a giant cliff, across a small lagoon. The film was presented by prolific producer Avi Lerner, who said the film project came to life two years ago at the Ischia event, which is where Daniels first read script.
“This is where the decision was made to make the film,” Lerner said.
Davis, meanwhile, is one of the top representatives of the music side of the ten-year-old Ischia event, receiving the festival’s prestigious Ischia Legends prize. Other top music industry figures on the festival’s guest list include Italian singer Zucchero and “I Will Survive” singer Glora Gaynor.
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The well-received Monday night screening of Snow White and the Huntsman took place in the same lagoon venue, followed by a gala dinner and reception for the third consecutive night, with the film the main topic of conversation.
The piracy panel was a true international event, with a dozen speakers from Italy, the United States, and beyond. Recommendations included calling for harsher punishments to illegal downloaders of protected material, increased power to those who monitor possible piracy, and the need for individual actions rather than unanimous consent.
“We don’t all have to act. Some brave groups act and others follow, it has always been that way,” said director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, one of the panelists. “There may be economic consequences for a while, but that’s what it takes.”
Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said the battle was the biggest one the music and film industries were facing.
“Can art be free?” he asked. “No, it can’t be free if all of us want to continue making a living doing this in the future, if the public wants to continue to have access to the highest level products.”
Hiller’s acting class tapped into an unscheduled synergy between the popularity his classes usually attract, and the industry professionals already at the festival who made themselves available to come by and address the four dozen actors from 14 countries who made the trip to improve their craft.
“Only a couple of these encounters were planned, but I’ve been asking people to come by and they have been very willing to stop by,” said Hiller, who said that guests this week are expected to include Gilliam, Haggis, Lerner, director and producer Rob Reiner, and Italian director Lina Wertmueller, who in 1977 became the first woman ever nominated for an Oscar as Best Director.
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The workshop’s students said they were enthusiastic about the setting and the class. Paris-based British actor Paul Barrett, 56, a veteran of 15 films and more than 20 of Hiller’s workshops said, “I keep coming back because each time out I learn something different,” while Jakub Swiderski, 27, a Polish actor, called the Ischia workshop “the chance of a lifetime.”
The festival, which takes place on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, concludes July 15.
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