Taormina 2012: Jon Kasdan Screens 'The First Time,' Terry Gilliam Gives 'Master Class'

The First Time

U.S. Dramatic Festival

The festival got off to a shaky start, including a long delay for the start of a standing-room-only screening of Disney/Pixar's "Brave."

TAORMINA, Sicily -- Jon Kasdan’s coming-of-age comedy The First Time was the main event at the Taormina Film Festival on Monday, following a flurry of activity over the weekend that included a standing-room-only screening of Disney/Pixar’s Brave and Monday’s Master Class hosted by offbeat director Terry Gilliam.

Kasdan, the son of four-time Oscar-nominated director Lawrence Kasdan, brought the film’s two main stars -- Brittany Robertson and Dylan O’Brian -- with him for Monday’s European premiere for the film, which first screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The film garnered particular attention from the “Campus” student participants at the festival.

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Monday’s Teatro Antico screening will be followed Tuesday by Darling Companion, the latest effort from the elder Kasdan. The back-to-back screenings will mark the first time the two Kasdans have had films screen in the same festival.

After the full -- and sometimes problematic -- opening weekend, The First Time screened to a half-full Teatro Antico audience. But Saturday’s unveiling of Brave screened to a full house, with people sitting in the walkways of the 2,700-year-old, 3,000-seat Teatro Antico.

Also turning heads before the screening of The First Time was Saturday’s well-received premiere of Jannacke Systad Jacobsen’s Norwegian coming-of-age comedy, Fa meg Pa, for faen (Turn Me On, Dammit!); the midnight screening of horror film The Thing from Matthijs van Heijningen, in the Teatro Antico following Brave; Sunday’s Teatro Antico screening of quirky French comedy L’Amour dure trois ans (Love Lasts Three Years); and Monday’s Master Class from Gilliam, titled “The Imagination of Dr. Gilliam,” which featured a discussion about the career of the former Monty Python star.  

Despite the successful first weekend, the 58-year-old festival has also had its problems, with a handful of logistical issues, including the screening of Brave starting after a long delay, sparking boos and whistles from the packed crowd that only subsided after pleas for patience from Italian actor-director Michele Placido, in town to participate in a "Campus" event. But the screening was well received. There was also confusion Monday over the starting time of The First Time, with the official schedule reflecting a later time than the actual screening.

STORY: Taormina Fest Switching Focus to Comedy, Horror Under New Leadership

The festival, which concludes Thursday, is orchestrating a shift in emphasis from an arthouse festival to one that focuses predominantly on comedies and horror films under the care of first-year artistic director Mario Sesti.