Taormina fest honors Tornatore


TAORMINA, Sicily -- Giuseppe Tornatore was presented with the Taormina Art Award, and Tony Bill's World War I drama "Flyboys" and "Lucky You" from Curtis Hanson screened at the 2,300-year-old Greek Theatre, during the opening weekend of the 53rd TaorminaFilmFest.

Both films from the festival's opening nights received enthusiastic applause at Taormina's ancient cliff-side amphitheatre, which overlooks the sea with the majestic Mt. Etna volcano towering in the distance.

Tornatore will be the subject of a special retrospective at this year's festival, which opened Saturday and will run through June 22. His best-known film -- the 1989 Oscar winner "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso" -- screened at midnight Saturday to a nearly packed house, and other films from the Sicilian native -- including several little known shorts -- will screen during the week.

Sunday's main screening was of poker drama "Lucky You," which stars Drew Barrymore, Eric Bana, and Robert Duvall -- Bana and Duvall on hand for the premiere -- and screened to a capacity crowd.

Taormina is recasting itself this year as a Mediterranean event, highlighting cultural ties between all corners of the region. In that vein, the schedule later in the week will include events to celebrate the centennial of Egyptian cinema.

But the most awaited event of the festival will be Thursday's premiere of the mega-budget summer thriller "Transformers," which will include an appearance from director Michael bay, much of the cast, and officials from Paramount.