Ischia fest proving a stellar attraction

Film and music event has a high-profile following

ROME -- The Ischia Film & Music Global Fest, the seven-year-old festival held on a small island off the coast of Naples, is not short on ambition.

"Our aim is to help promote an important cultural exchange between the United States and Italy, and to watch see some good movies while we're at it," the festival's founder Pascal Vicedomini said in an interview.

There's little doubt that Vicedomini is doing more than his part. In addition to starting the Ischia Film & Music Global Fest in 2003, he also founded the Capri/Hollywood Film Festival -- also held off the coast of Naples, and famous as the last and first festival on any film festival calendar, bridging New Years with each edition -- in 1995, and the Los Angeles/Italy Film Festival, which has taken place in conjunction with the Oscars every year since 2006. All three events have one thing in common -- bringing U.S. films to an Italian audience, or Italian fare to a U.S. audience.

"I guess this is my calling," he laughed. "I love bringing these two cultures together."

With a mid-summer date and a location on one of Italy's most picturesque islands, the Ischia Film & Music Global Fest has never had a problem attracting star power even though, as Vicedomini boasts, it is one of the few international festivals that does not pay appearance fees for stars.

This year's July 12-19 event is keeping up with the tradition, with a guest list that includes Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento, media tycoon Tarak Ben Amar, actors Angela Basset, Jacqueline Bisset, Raoul Bova, Rosario Dawson, Peter Fonda, and Christoph Waltz, singer Sting, producers Aurelio de Laurentiis and Harvey Weinstein, and directors Paul Haggis and Lina Wertmueller.

The lineup includes similarly high-profile projects, with the world premiere of David Twohy's thriller "A Perfect Getaway," with protagonist Timothy Olyphant scheduled to be on hand for the screening, and the Italian premiere of "Fighting," an action-drama from Dito Montiel, who will be at the festival along with the film's star Terrence Howard.

According to Vicedomini, the Ischia Film & Music Global Fest sets itself apart from the other two Italo-American festivals he founded -- and most other film festivals for that matter -- because of the music in its DNA. Sting, who will perform at this year's festival, is just the latest in a long line of prominent musicians to make the trip to Ischia for the event.

Because the festival gives great importance to both music and film, Vicedomini said it attracts attention from sources beyond the typical film fans that attend the events on Italy's crowded film festival calendar.

"I like to think we attract attention from people who love films, and from people who love music, from those who appreciate the U.S., and from those who are fans of Italy," he said. "That's a very large group!"