Samuel L. Jackson, Roman Polanski's 'Venus in Fur' Early Hits at Ischia Global Fest

Emmanuelle Seigner in "Venus in Fur"

"Venus in Fur" star Emmanuelle Seigner, the director's wife, earned rave reviews for her performance in the two-person drama.

LACCO AMENO, Ischia, Italy – Actor Samuel L. Jackson and the international premiere of Roman Polanski’s La Venus a la fourrure (Venus in Fur) have been the main attractions at the 11th Ischia Global Film & Music.

Jackson received the Ischia Legends Award -- the festival’s top honor -- late Sunday in a special reception following the screening of La Venus a la fourrure. Along with LaTanya Richardson, his wife, an enthusiastic Jackson said he was pleased to accept the award and to attend the picturesque event, held off the coast of Naples, Italy.

Earlier in the day, the festival hosted the Italian premiere of David Soren’s animated film Turbo, for which Jackson did the voice for the character Whiplash.

The evening belonged to Polanski’s film, which screened at the festival’s signature lagoon-side venue after premiering in competition in Cannes. The 96-minute production features just two actors: Mathieu Amalric, who plays a theater director casting for a new production, and Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife, who plays an unknown actress trying to convince him she’s right for a starring role.

Seigner was in Ischia for the screening, for which she earned rave reviews from the capacity crowd. Jackson, when Seigner caught his eye during his prize ceremony, stopped what he was saying to tell her, “You were absolutely wonderful in that film.” Festival founder and director Pascal Vicedomini presented Seigner with the festival’s Actress of the Year honor, and (with Polanski unable to travel to Italy for legal reasons) Seigner and Polanski’s 20-year-old daughter, Morgane Polanski, accepted another award on behalf of her father.

“I’d just like to thank daddy for creating this role that is so perfect for my mother,” Morgane Polanski said.

Also on tap for Sunday night was the presentation of an Ischia Global Producer award for Seven producer Gianni Nunnari, a native of Rome who made his name in Hollywood. Nunnari was introduced by fellow producer Mark Canton, a close friend of Nunnari’s and one of the festival’s honorary chairs. Before the screening of La Venus a la fourrure, Nunnari and Canton hosted the first screening of the preview for their upcoming joint production venture 300: Rise of an Empire, the follow-up to their 2006 mega hit 300. The new film is set for release in March.

“I live in Los Angeles, but it’s always wonderful and special to me when I can come back to Italy,” Nunnari said.

Musician Michael Bolton closed the evening as the final honoree in the same ceremony that honored Jackson, Seigner and Nunnari with the festival’s Ischia Global Music honor, followed by a well-received duet between Bolton and Maria Nazionale, an Italian pop star.

“When we contacted Michael Bolton about this award, he said, ‘Yes, I will come, and I want to sing with Maria Nazionale,’” Vicedomini said.

A day earlier, the festival honored Italian actor Franco Nero, the star of the 1966 film Django -- the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, in which Nero played a small role -- and Nero’s wife, Vanessa Redgrave.

On Monday, Jackson and Seigner hosted Master Class events, with the European premiere of Marcelo, from Mexican director Omar Ynigo, set to be the evening’s main event (the film’s star, Aaron Diaz, and producers Juan Carlos and Olga Segura were on the island for the premiere). Monday’s honorees will include Valeria Golino, who starred in Rain Man and Frida and whose feature film directorial debut, Miele (Honey), earned a jury prize in Cannes' Un Certain Regard sidebar. Golino will be given the festival’s Breakout Italian Director honor.

The festival concludes July 21.

Twitter: @EricJLyman