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Glam event gains social awareness: Celebs, film lovers, and activists mix and mingle in the shadow of Sicily's Mt. Etna.

Though movies remain at its core, Italy's Taormina Film Festival has morphed in recent years into a mix of film launches, master classes and glam galas with a strong humanitarian aspect.

Pushing that envelope even further, this year's event will bring in 300 homeless people from various parts of Sicily as the stars of the evening on opening night. Richard Gere, a tireless advocate for the homeless, will host the opening ceremony.

Events and screenings take place in Taormina's open-air ancient Greek theater, an architectural gem in the shadow of Sicily's active Mt. Etna volcano. Disney/Pixar's "Finding Dory" will kick off the festival. Oren Moverman's raw and realistic "Time out of Mind," in which Gere plays a vagrant trying to survive in New York, will play for both the homeless and the rest of the public earlier in the day as part of its Italian theatrical launch.

"Dory" and "Mind" encapsulate programming paramaters pursued by Taormina topper Tiziana Rocca, a marketing guru who took over four years ago as general manager and has since systematically upped the glamour quotient and thus the number of honorees.

One section of the fest will include independent U.S. movies selected by Variety critics.

"I am trying to strike a balance between mainstream entertainment and quality" she says.

Honorees

RICHARD GERE

Humanitarian Award

After attending last year to hold a master class on the roles that made him famous, Gere returns to Taormina to raise awareness for the homeless.

HARVEV KEITEL

Mister Clifton Award

Keitel Will hold a Tao Class on his film career, which includes Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974) as well as upcoming drama "Gandhi of the Month."

JEREMY RENNER

Mister Clifton Award

Renner, whose credits include Oscar-nominated turns In "The Hurt Locker" and "The Town," will hold a Tao Class.

JACQUELINE BISSET

Taormina Arte Award

Bisset has worked with such storied directors as John Huston, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Roman Polanski. She will next appear in Per Fly's "Backstabblng for Beginners."

REBECCA HALL

Taormina Arte Award

Hall, who will be overseeing a Tao Class, has racked up roles In such projects as "Parade's End," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and Steven Spielberg's "The BFG."

THIERRY FREMAUX

Taormina Arte Award

The artistic director of the Cannes Film Festival will hold a Tao Class about the film pioneers Lumiere brothers.

OLIVER STONE

Taormina Arte Award

The director will launch "Ukraine on Fire" and hold a master class with the docu's director.

SUSAN SARANDON

Taormina Arte Award

The actress returns to Taormina with her latest, "The Meddler."

KATHRYN HAHN

Citta di Taormina Award

Hahn easily moves from TV to film. She recently played Rabbi Raquel Fein on Jill Soloway's "Transparent," and was tapped as the lead In Soloway's follow-up project for Amazon, "I Love Dick."

IAIN GLEN

Citta di Taormina Award

The Scottish star--who played an unsuitable suitor on "Downton Abbey"--Is also known for his role in the "Resident Evil" franchise and as Jorah Mormoni on "Game of Thrones."

RAY WINSTONE

Citta di Taormina Award

The versatile thesp is best known for playing tough guys over his four-decade career in films such as "Sexy Beast" and "The Departed."

From Italy With Love

Italian honorees enjoy one of their homeland tests

Micaela Ramazzotti Mister Clifton Award Recently starred In Paolo Virzi's comedy "Like Crazy," which bowed in Cannes.

Alessandro Preziosi Mister Clifton Award Best known for his TV roles, most recently Ral's top-rated mlnlserles "Beauty & the Beast" and "Tango per la Liberta."

Ambra Angiolini Mister Clifton Award A TV host in her teens, Angiolini transitioned to acting In films such as Ferzan Ozpetek's 2007 drama "Saturn in Opposition." She will next appear In romantic comedy "Al Posto Tuo."

Claudio Santamaria Mister Clifton Award Recently won the lead actor nod at Italy's David dl Donatello Awards for his role as a loser who becomes a superhero In sleeper hit "They Call Me Jeeg."

Pietro Vaisecchi Taormina Arte Award He produced Italy's hit "Quo Vado," which scored more than $70 million at the local box office. Now in romantic comedy "Al Posto Tuo."

Anna Galiena Taormina Arte Award Kineo Actress known outside Italy for Patrice Leconte's "The Hairdresser's Husband" and Bigas Lunas' "Jamon, Jamon." Recently appeared in Paolo Virzi's "Like Crazy."

Enrico Brignano Citta di Taormina Award Brignano is a popular Italian comedian, writer and TV personality.

Fabio Lovino Citta di Taormina Award Film photographer Lovino will launch a docu titled "Mothers" to raise awareness of women's rights.

Luca Angeletti Citta di Taormina Award The Italian film and TV actor recently starred in Luc Besson's "Lucy."

Tipsheet

What: 62nd Taormina Film Festival

When: June 10-18

Where: Taormina, Italy

Web: taormlnafilmfest.net
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Title Annotation:TAORMINA: FILM FESTIVAL
Author:Vivarelu, Nick
Publication:Variety
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 7, 2016
Words:781
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