by HFPA June 16, 2011

Monica Bellucci

By Silvia Bizio

Taormina, June 16, 2011 - The glamorous Italian star, the iconoclastic Hollywood director and the working American actor: Monica Bellucci, Oliver Stone and Matthew Modine shared the spotlight on the second and third day of the Taormina Film Festival, which unfolds in this Sicilian sea town full of bougainvilleas and romantic corners.  Bellucci and Stone received the Taormina Arte Award, while Modine was awarded a special Golden Lion from the city of Messina onstage at the ancient Greek Theatre, and all took advantage of their press conferences and their Master Classes to talk about their work, politics and Sicily.  Italy has been in the midst of a national referendum about nuclear energy and the privatization of water (both strongly defeated), and Oliver Stone even encouraged his

Oliver Stone

audience to go cast their vote: “You only have a few hours left, rush to the polls!” he said.  “You breathe a desire for change and a rebirth here,” said Monica Bellucci.  “I really think Italians want to turn the page.”  She added, “I loveSicily, it is always a joy to come back here, among such warm people.  I spent five months in this wonderful island while I was shooting (Giuseppe Tornatore’s) Malena, a film that gave me so much, one of the films of my youth.”  A journalist asks her if the man/woman relationship has gotten better with time.  “Us women must still fight to be treated equally,” she answers.  “If you say you are pregnant, they look at you as if you had committed a crime.  It’s a power game between men and women.  There are still many places in Sicily where women dress in black and cover themselves completely; in many Italian towns the myth of virginity is still alive.”   She then switches to acting: “We actors are like children who play, and in fact in French and in English the word for acting is play, a game!  But it is also a gypsy work, a very solitary work.”  Her inspirations? “Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale: they are the great who made the history of Italian cinema!”

Matthew Modine

“That Silvio Berlusconi is the owner of many television stations and newspapers is certainly dangerous,” said Matthew Modine, who introduced the short he directed, Jesus was a Commie, to a packed audience at the Taormina Campus.  “I might get into trouble for saying this, but I am convinced that one must always say the truth in the face of power.  How can they even consider in this country to make you pay for water when it is a fundamental right for all?  It would be equivalent to charge you an euro every time you breath!”  For his part, Oliver Stone was proud to introduce his third – and final, he promises – version of his 2004’s film with Colin Farrell on Alexander the Great, Alexander Revisited, 3 hours and 42 minutes, which was shown at the Greek Amphitheatre with a brief intermission.  “It is an incredible theatre,” said the director, “even though in such a huge arena, in the open air, you are destined to lose the intimacy which a film requires.  This movie is the most important and most ambitious work I have ever done.  It was my fault if it didn’t work the first time around.  I rushed it, I cut too much to try to make the studio happy, and I made a mistake.  This is not a story that can be told in two hours.”  After only one day in Taormina, Oliver Stone and his producer Moritz Borman rushed back to Los Angeles to complete preproduction on his new movie, Savages, about the Mexican drug cartel and the marijuana business in California.

Master Class at Taormina