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:: A YEAR OF TRANSITION, A YEAR OF CHANGES

It has been a very difficult year of work and research. An exhausting research for good films in a non-particularly exciting season; a meticulous identifying of personalities – for the international jury (this year the competition section is back) and for the Cinema Lessons – absolutely adequate to the level asserted by the Taormina BNL FilmFest; an accurate investigation and improvement of the experiences lived in the past years. Free from useless vaunting, my collaborators and I – whom I heartily thank for their abnegation – believe we’ve made it. And well, too, with all the ups and downs technically rooted in festivals. The program of the films and events are related in the following pages. A very thick program made to man’s (and women’s) order, where each film retains a specific place and appropriate attention. Which is what the filmmakers aspire to. With the 2005 edition, the international film festival of Taormina celebrates its 50+1 birthday. Last year, for its 50th birthday, we did things in a big way, and the financial means allowed us to. But the condition of Italian economy today and its repercussion on culture and in general on cultural events – particularly on cinema, and mainly over the past two years – are common knowledge, even though the situation seems to be getting better thanks to the efforts made by the new General Manager of the Department for Arts and Culture, Gaetano Blandini, who launched a trustful signal to our work and to that of the Taormina Art Committee set up by this event. Yet, as others, we are facing a transitional and quite difficult year, which Fabio Granata, the Councilman for Tourism of the Region of Sicily, is well aware of, but in spite of this, he is strongly willing, and always more, to support the future of the Taormina festival in order to allow it make a quantity and quality leap that shall definitely set it in the landscape of the great international events, being already more than established nationally, as the renovated agreement with our main sponsor – the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, that has so much contributed to the relaunching of the Taormina BNL FilmFest over the past years – largely proves.A further contribution towards this direction will certainly come thanks to the presence of highly qualified worldwide critics and journalists that for the first time this year hold the general meeting of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI) in Taormina and will therefore have the possibility to “discover” our festival that has nothing to envy (and is actually envied by) more conspicuously funded international events, that don’t have better or richer programs than ours, but a budget even ten times higher (and I’m certainly not referring to Cannes or Berlin). Events – that chronologically take place after ours – that wage war (competition) upon us as obstinate as ridiculous and quite nervous, considering the abyssal economical disparity. A war that consists in subtracting films to Taormina, pledging pompous promises and putting up hysterical acts – films already confirmed (with us) and not even seen (by them). What matters is that Taormina chose them. Which confirms the fact that we are on the right path, if we frighten our competitors so much. But who is writing is used to it: this is what has always happened to him, but at the end he’s always won these wars. Submissively. A few final considerations. In the past, Taormina has historically given hospitality to awards dedicated to Italian cinema (David di Donatello, Italian Journalists Awards, Ciak). Given hospitality, but never created or produced such type of event. This year things change, and this, too, is a token of vitality: from 2005, the festival will personally produce an event to acknowledge Italian cinema, given the possibility to have a jury that couldn’t be more prestigious and that, with a revolutionary formula, certainly original, bestows awards that are named as the members of the jury themselves: Mario Monicelli Award for Best Director, Suso Cecchi d’Amico Award for Best Screenplay, Tonino Guerra Award for Best Original Story, Ennio Morricone Award for Best Soundtrack, Giuseppe Rotunno Award for Best Cinematography, Dante Ferretti Award for Best Art Direction, Roberto Perpignani Award for Best Editing, Piero Tosi Award for Best Costume Artist, joined by – thanks to the presence of their sons or daughters – the Franco Cristaldi Award for Best Producer, Anna Magnani Award for Best Protagonist Actress, Gian Maria Volontè Award for Best Protagonist Actor. And from 2006 there will also be a Vittorio De Seta Award for Best Italian Documentary, assigned by Vittorio and the other members of the jury. Games and gimmicks are forever over. A second consideration. A few years ago, the management of the Taormina Arte Committee, first of all the General Secretary Antonino Panzera, and I were called for a summit meeting with the other authoritative institution that represents Italian cinema, AGIS (that, through ANEC, represents exhibitors). We were formally asked to examine the possibility to anticipate the dates of our festival from the end of July to the beginning of June, in order to endorse the promotion of the films invited to Taormina released during the summer. For love of cinema and yet with a serious worsening of the costs faced by Taormina Arte we willingly agreed to support the summer season (that had never before existed, only country in Europe) with our festival. It seemed as if things could take this direction. We realize today that it was a pure and naive illusion. Apart from a few sporadic cases, and very few titles (2 or 3), neither the distributors, nor the exhibitors are willing to really risk by releasing their films during the summer, in spite of the fact that today there are structures as multiplexes perfectly adequate to the need, like in almost all other countries. But we aren’t a normal country: most of the films announced for the summer are shifted to autumn. So then: if summer cinema isn’t doing anything for Taormina, why should Taormina continue doing something for summer cinema? Let’s take back – this is my proposal – the dates of the last decade of July definitively, as in the past. Youngsters and students will be particularly happy about it, since they always contested the June dates, full of university exams and school chores. After all, youngsters and students are the main audience whom cinema (and festivals) are meant for, and without whom cinema (and festivals) would die. And neither we, nor they, feel like dying at all.
Felice Laudadio


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