The Taormina Arte Sicilia Foundation appointed arts and entertainment veteran Barrett Wissman as the chief executive and co-artistic director of the Taormina Film Fest. As one of Wissman’s first initiatives of the festival’s 69th edition, artist Bella Thorne will be curating one of the prestigious gala evenings in the historic location of Taormina’s Ancient Greek theater, the Teatro Antico.

Thorne will be world premiering her directorial short film debut, “Paint Her Red.” The short is produced by Sofie Warshafsky and Paige Starke, executive-produced by Julian Wayser, and features actress Juliet Sterner.

To compliment this exceptional evening, Thorne will be inviting not only well-known artists, celebrities, and influencers to screen their projects as directors but will also feature 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, a trauma in any form, stories about internalized hatred, and mother/daughter and father/son stories. I’m looking for stories that show balance: both the beautiful and ugly sides of life and the light and darkness we are surrounded by every day. I am very grateful to Barrett Wissman for giving me the opportunity to lead the way in showcasing a new generation of filmmakers.” – said the artist and director Bella Thorne. “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 Barrett Wissman.

Held in the picturesque town of Taormina, the Taormina Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in Europe and Italy, attracting international filmmakers, actors, and film lovers worldwide. The screenings take place in the stunning Ancient Theatre of Taormina. The festival boasts a vibrant history and has hosted the premieres of numerous notable films, including La Dolce Vita, The Godfather, Braveheart, Mission Impossible, Inglourious Basterds, and many, many more.