Ischia, a picturesque island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Naples, Italy, will play host to several Indian film personalities and their colourful cinematic creations later this month as part of a special celebration of Bollywood's song and dance extravaganzas.
The first Ischia Global Film and Music Fest, to be held from July 13 to 18, will screen Subhash Ghai's Taal, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas, Shaad Ali's Saathiya and Sudhir Mishra's yet-to-be-released Calcutta Mail.
The festival, being organized by the International Academy of Art, Ischia, and the Rome-based Luce Institute in collaboration with the US showbiz magazine, Variety, will confer a Lifetime Achievement Award on veteran actor Kabir Bedi, who has a huge fan following in Italy thanks to his hugely popular role in the 1970s television series, Sandokan.
Several personalities will represent the Mumbai film industry in Ischia. Among the special invitees are Subhash Ghai, Bobby Bedi (the producer of Saathiya), Sudhir Mishra and Rani Mukherjee, one of the principal stars of Calcutta Mail. Says the organizer of the festival's Bollywood segment: "We are keen to invite more Indian film people, especially those who are globally known like Shekhar Kapur and Mira Nair."
"Interest in Indian cinema is growing rapidly in Italy," he says. "Ischia's tribute to Bollywood is a recognition of that fact," he adds.
Italian critic Tonino Pinto says: "The colourful and imaginative contemporary Indian film style is a natural for this festival exploring links between the cinema art and new musical trends. There is much curiosity in Italy and world about the enormously productive Bollywood phenomenon."
Apart from an appearance in Ischia this month, Kabir Bedi will be returning to Italy in mid-2004 to reprise his Sandokan star turn in a big-screen venture, Sandokan in Sicily. Aditya Basu Bhattacharya, who spent over a decade in Italy after his late 1980s Bollywood debut, Raakh, directs the $3 million film. Sandokan in Sicily will be the first ever Indo-Italian co-production.
A wide array of Italian and international stars will join the celebration and exploration of the relationship between film and music. The Ischia fest, the brainchild of the president of the International Academy of Art, entrepreneur Giancarlo Carriero, is designed to recapture the lost glory of the beautiful Green Island, once the favourite haunt of the likes of Charlie Chaplin and other Hollywood greats.
Some of the biggest names of Italian show business have lent their support to the event. Producer Angel Rizzoli and famed director Luchino Visconti spearhead the organization of the event. The artistic supervision of the project has been entrusted to producer Tony Renis, actor Franco Nero, director and choreographer Franco Miseria, singer-songwriter Edoardo Bennato, actor and director Giulio Base and producer Giuseppe Pedersoli.
The first Ischia Global Film and Music Fest will also host the Italian premiere of the American Film Institute's tribute to actor Robert de Niro, besides bestowing a Special Award on British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, whose latest film, The Tulse Luper Suitcases: The Moab Story, has been co-produced Luce Institute.