Bella Thorne Making Moves as Filmmaker, Now Festival Programmer

Bella Thorne is saying ciao to the role of festival programmer.

The “Paint Her Red” filmmaker, who makes her directorial debut with the short film, will curate a selection for the “Influential Shorts” gala programming for the 2023 Taormina Film Festival. Thorne has selected “Don’t Go Too Far” as the first short film to be screened alongside her own.

Thorne and Taormina Film Festival co-Artistic Director Barrett Wissman selected “Don’t Go Too Far,” directed by Saudi female filmmaker Maram Taibah. The film follows an Arab man (Hakeem Jomah) with an intellectual disability who is accidentally separated from his sister (Ida Alkusay) on a New York subway. Never having been left alone in his entire life, the train carries him off. He is left to find his way back home alone in an apathetic city. “Don’t Go Too Far” is written and directed by Taibah and produced by Jaselle Martino. The short is currently screening in competition at the 2023 Saudi Film Festival in Dahran, Saudi Arabia. Through its mission of encouraging emerging talents in filmmaking, the festival helped facilitate Thorne’s selection.

“This movie opens up a bigger conversation about mental disability and the lack of education and knowledge our society provides us,” Thorne said. “Our society doesn’t lead with love and empathy nor provide education on mental disability, I made this curating job my responsibility to bring more eyes to such a topic to start a more significant conversation.”

Thorne added of her curating process, “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, 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 the darkness we are surrounded by every day.”

More programming selections for the “Influential Shorts” gala will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thorne’s directorial debut “Paint Her Red” is based on an original screenplay she wrote, directed, and stars in along with actress Juliet Sterner. Oscar-nominated writer Oren Moverman narrates the short, which debuts at the Taormina Film Fest as well.

The Taormina, Sicily-based festival will screen “Jeanne Du Barry” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” as part of its 2023 highlights. All screenings take place in the Ancient Theatre of Taormina. The festival boasts a history of premiering notable films including “La Dolce Vita,” “The Godfather,” “Braveheart,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and more.

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