The Los Angeles Italian Film, Fashion and Art Fest, staged a week-long series of events, honoring heavyweights in the Italian and Italian-American communities, in the days leading up to the Academy Awards, ending Feb. 23. Among others honored were the legendary Al Pacino, Quentin Tarantino of “Django Unchained,” Franco Nero, the original “Django” and “Winx Club” founder Iginio Straffi.Festival guests included Gerard Butler of “300,” Christoph Waltz of “Django Unchained,” Larry King of “Larry King Live,” director David O. Russell of “Silver Linings Playbook,” and many others.
* The week kicked off with a gala honoring the great Al Pacino with the Jack Valenti L.A. Italia Legend Award. The awards ceremony followed a screening of “Gladiators of Rome 3D,” created and directed by Iginio Straffi, considered by some to be the Walt Disney of Italy.
* The festival honored Quentin Tarantino for revitalizing the spaghetti western with his Academy Award-nominated “Django Unchained.” He received the Festival’s Screenwriter of the Year Award.
* The Friend of Italy Award went to Academy Award winning actor Christoph Waltz, and on the same night, organizers saluted Franco Nero, the original Django. Two screenings followed: the first, “Franco Nero: The Man of a Thousand Faces;” the second, Sergio Corbucci’s film “Django.”
* Italian music icon Zucchero was honored at the Grammy Museum and at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. Also honoured was actor and director Michele Placido, who produced the thriller, “Le Guetteur,” which recently had its US premiere.
A Special Tribute: Iginio Straffi
* The Festival also staged a special tribute to director and producer Iginio Straffi, screening his film “Winx Club 3D: Magic Adventure.” The Winx Club, created by his Rainbow animation studios, is a worldwide phenomenon, seen in more than 100 countries.
Winx Club dolls, clothing, back-to-school supplies and other products are treasured by children throughout the world, and generate, according to Straffi, $3 billion in sales each year. “It’s the no. 1 brand for girls in several countries, selling more than Barbies in some countries,” Straffi said.
Yet there could be greater success in the future, as Straffi recently opened a theme park in Rome and his “Winx Club” has begun airing in the U.S. on Nickelodeon. “The ratings are good, growing every month,” Straffi said. “We’re positive it will be a phenomenon in the United States.”
Other Italian artists attending were directors Fausto Brizzi, actor Claudia Zanella, Tony Trupia, Andrea Zaccariello, Marta Gastini and Giuliano Gemma.
Los Angeles-Italia was produced by Pascal Vicedomini, chaired by film executive Rick Nicita, and co-chaired by Italian film producer Marina Cicogna.
Producer Martha De Laurentiis served as the festival president with producer Mark Canton as honorary chair. Actress and model Madelina Ghenia served as emcee.