Tiziana Rocca Named New Artistic Director at Taormina Film Festival

ROME – Public relations specialist and film festival circuit regular Tiziana Rocca will take over as the artistic director of the Taormina Film Festival ahead of the 58th edition of the Sicilian event, organizers announced Tuesday.

The festival, best known for its picturesque location and its use of a 2,700-year-old Greek-era amphitheater for ceremonies and screenings, also announced a scaled back schedule, the dates for this year’s event (it will take place June 23-28), and news that it will be funded entirely from private sources.

Rocca will replace The Hollywood Reporter International Film Editor Deborah Young, who stepped down from the position after five years amid what she called “incompatible views” with the festival’s oversight body and worries about the festival’s dwindling budget. Young's departure had left the future of the festival in doubt.

Rocca promised the event -- which under Young had become an international launching pad for Hollywood blockbusters including Transformers in 2007, Toy Story 3 in 2010 and Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D last year -- will become a showcase for “glamour and social events.”

The appointment of Rocca means that three of Italy’s four most prominent film festivals have new artistic directors for this year’s editions. In addition to Rocca in Taormina, Alberto Barbera has taken the reins at the august Venice Film Festival, where he replaced Marco Mueller, who has himself taken over direction of the International Rome Film Festival.

All those changes leave Gianni Amelio, who took control of the 30-year-old Turin Film Festival in 2009, as the most senior artistic director among Italy’s leading festivals.