Richard Gere Named Honorary Chair of Taormina Film Fest

Richard Gere attends the UK premiere of Time Out Of Mind -Getty-H 2016
Ross Gilmore/Getty Images

The actor is returning to Sicily with an evening planned to draw awareness to initiatives for the homeless.

Actor Richard Gere will serve as honorary president of the 62nd Taormina Film Fest, which draws a number of celebrities to the shores of Sicily each summer.

This year the event, which is set to run June 11-18, will open with an evening dedicated to homeless causes. Gere has been advocating on the issue for years and portrayed a homeless man in 2014’s Time Out of Mind.

The actor will preside over the opening ceremonies with U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Phillips. The proceedings will see 300 homeless people from surrounding regions in Sicily fill the Ancient Greek Amphitheater.

Time Out of Mind will open in Italy on June 15, distributed by Lucky Red.

Last year, Gere and his family also attended the fest in southern Italy, where he taught a master class on cinema and picked up the Taormina Arte Award.

“The whole world is very aware of the problems of displaced people, and people running away from conflict, people running away from poverty. In Sicily you are in the epicenter of the problem,” he said to audiences at the time. “It’s one of the issues that I wanted to tackle with Time Out of Mind. It isn't just homeless people but displaced people, people looking for a home, people looking for a sense of security.

“And it begs the question, what is our responsibility towards people?” Gere asked. “Even from a selfish point of view, we should be providing homes and security to people who need it. It makes us more secure for other people to feel secure, for other people to not feel damaged. Those of us who have more should be giving more back. Europe is getting very serious about this. I think the U.S should do more to help people out in these situations.”