Taormina raises profile with U.S. fare

'The Hangover,' 'Humpday' among premieres

ROME -- Sicily's Taormina Film Festival is going Hollywood with its 55th edition, with the Italian premieres of Lynn Shelton's "Humpday," "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" from Mark Waters and "The Hangover" from Todd Phillips all featured in the lineup, which was announced Friday.

Adding more Hollywood talent to this year's festival DNA, Jessica Lange will join Catherine Deneuve and Dominique Sanda among the recipients of the Taormina Art Award at the June 13-20 festival based in the picturesque village of Taormina and elsewhere in Sicily.

The U.S. lineup, for example, will screen in Palermo as part of a series called Young American Comedies, which will also feature David Gordon Green's "Pineapple Express," Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder," and Anne Fletcher's "The Proposal."

In its third year under the artistic directorship of Deborah Young, who also is The Hollywood Reporter's chief international critic, Taormina has raised its profile in part by attracting high-profile international films.

But the festival also remains true to its Sicilian origins by expanding across the island from its northeastern base and including local-themed films like "La Siciliana Ribelle" (The Sicilian Girl) as well as more traditional cerebral fare such as "The Long Night" from Syrian director Hatem Ali, Turkish director Umit Una's "The Shadowless," and "Zrubavel" from Israel's Shmuel Beru -- all of which will appear in the festival's Mediterranean competition.

Taormina's famed Greek Theatre will host "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," "The Proposal" and "Diamant 13" (Diamond 13) from Stijn Coninx from France, the festival's guest country, following Turkey and Egypt in the previous two editions.

The honor means that seven French films will screen in Taormina as part of a special retrospective, including "Ne le dis a personne" (Tell No One) from Guillaime Canet, and "L'emploi du temps" (Time Out) from Laurent Cantet.