EXCLUSIVE: Bella Thorne is headed to the 69th edition of Italy’s Taormina Film Festival (June 24 to July 1) after being invited to guest curate one of its gala evenings with a special program of short films including her own directorial debut Paint Her Red.
The event titled “Influential Shorts” will unfold in the festival’s landmark, open-air venue of the Ancient Greek Teatro Antico, set against the backdrop of Sicily’s Mount Etna volcano.
The event is one of the first initiatives put in place by incoming Taormina Film Festival Executive and co-Artistic Director Barrett Wissman.
The appointment of the entrepreneur, philanthropist and long-time Chairman of cultural arts entertainment agency IMG Artists, was also announced by governing body Taormina Arte Sicilia Foundation on Thursday with immediate effect.
“I am excited to be able to recognize Bella’s talent now as a film director and as a curator. Launching such a great project in the context of a historic festival and event like the Taormina Film Festival is an inspiring opportunity,” said Wissman.
“I would like also like to thank my co-Artistic Director Beatrice Venezi and the head of the Tao Arte Sicilia Foundation, Ester Bonafede, for making all of this possible and believing in the vision that I believe we all share for the future of the Taormina Film Festival.”
Launched in the Sicilian town of Taormina in 1955, the Taormina Film Festival has a long track-record of inviting local and international talent with recent guests including Francis Ford Coppola, Eva Longoria, Susan Sarandon and Nicole Kidman.
Actress Thorne, who has branched into singing, writing and directing since breaking out alongside Zendaya at the Disney Channel in the 2010s, wrote the original screenplay for Paint Her Red, and also directs and stars.
The work is produced by Sofie Warshafsky and Paige Starke and executive-produced by Julian Wayser. Influencer and model Juliet Sterner also features in the cast.
Thorne’s “Influential Shorts” gala evening will also invite well-known artists, celebrities and influencers to screen their projects as directors and introduce fresh talent she has recently discovered.
“We all connect through stories: watching art should be like looking in the mirror. I have been looking for shorts that speak to me about family dynamics, trauma in any form, stories about internalized hatred, and mother/daughter and father/son stories,” said Thorne.
“I’m looking for stories that show balance: both the beautiful and ugly sides of life, and the light and the darkness we are surrounded by every day. I am very grateful for Barrett Wissman for giving me the opportunity to lead the way in showcasing a new generation of filmmakers.”
More details about the evening and festival’s wider line-up will be announced at a press conference in Rome on May 9.
Thorne is represented by CAA, Thirty Three Management and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman.