Taormina takes a soccer timeout

Festival coincides with Euro 2008

TAORMINA, Italy -- The 54-year-old Taormina Film Festival took an unusual turn Tuesday, incorporating a soccer broadcast into the festival's international lineup.

Not that the festival had any choice. The Italian national team faced arch-rival France in the European championship Tuesday in a game that would send at least one of the teams packing from the tournament. Taormina artistic director Deborah Young knew that scheduling any film against the game in soccer-mad Italy was not a recipe for success.

"You can't fight soccer in Italy," said Young, also The Hollywood Reporter's international film critic. "You have to roll with it."

It's not the first time the festival coincided with soccer. The thriller "Mission: Impossible II" screened in Taormina just after Italy was eliminated from the European Championship in 2000, and festival organizers said the film was well received despite that.

Italy won the match 2-0 to advance to the tournament's second round and most of the packed crowd of 1,000 stayed to watch the Italian premiere of David Ayer's crime thriller "Street Kings."

The film started about two hours later than it would have normally started. The festival, which concludes Saturday, gets back to its normal schedule Wednesday.