Rome, August 1 - Southern Italy's Giffoni Film Festival, which attracted both seasoned Hollywood film stars and rising young talent, has ended its 44th edition leaving everyone wanting more.
"For the jurors, it is a difficult day, one of farewells," said Claudio Gubitosi, founder and artistic director of the event celebrating children's films, with this year's theme: 'Be Different'.
Hundreds of child jurors were involved as well as special guests including veteran Hollywood star Richard Gere and Britian's Alan Rickman, who played potions master Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. Children from 50 different countries across seven continents were involved in the Giffoni event, which this year broadened its focus to include more of the Giffoni Experience, a year-round initiative that organizes educational/entertainment courses for schools. Winners included Korean film Hope in the over 18 category; German film Exit Marrakech in the category of 16 plus; and Cuban film Behavour in the 13 years and old category.
"Never before have so many families participated," said Gubitosi, whose event saw 163 films screened as well as four master classes in acting, screenwriting, and journalism.
"Giffoni is true, loyal, and respectful of its public, including those as young as three years old," he added.
"The festival is the most social of the world, there is everything, film, television, and web", he said.
The 11-day festival brings children's films to centre stage in the small town of Giffoni Valle Piana, located 40 kilometers from Salerno, whose name is now synonymous with filmmaking.
Next year, Giffoni will focus more attention on music to expand its base even further, said the director, whose event has been widely praised for drawing much needed investment and tourist interest into southern Italy, a region plagued with economic hardship.
"Giffoni is a small town in the south that has managed to reverse the trend," said Caterina Miraglia, councillor in charge of cultural affairs for the Campania region.
Added Pietro Rinaldi, president of the Giffoni Experience: "Giffoni is a positive and practical example for our South".
Fans camped out day and night in the hopes of seeing some of the international stars attending the festival, such as Lea Michele, who plays the talented Rachel Berry in the popular TV series Glee; Matt Bomer, star of White Collar; Dylan O'Brien, star of TV series Teen Wolf and film The Maze Runner; Ryan Guzman, star of Step Up All In, which had its Italian premiere at the festival; and Micaela Riera, taking over from Violetta on the Disney Channel in Cata e i misteri della sfera, an Italian-dubbed version of the Spanish-language Argentinian series Senales del fin del mundo. Among the Italian stars at the event were: Luca Argentero; Cesare Bocci; Lorella Boccia; the cast from the RAI 1 series Braccialetti Rossi; Marco D'Amore and Salvatore Esposito, two stars from the breakout Sky hit series Gomorra; Isabella Ferrari; Claudia Gerini; Max Giusti; Giulia Michelini; Ornella Muti; Ferzan Oezpetek, Pierfrancesco Diliberti, a television host nicknamed Pif, who opened the festival; Paolo Ruffini, Sydney Sibilia, Vittorio Storaro and Giorgia Wurth.
Over the years, the number of children serving as jurors has grown to reach 3,500 and the "meet & greet" events tickets, allowing the public to meet the stars, sold out in record time of under eight minutes. Past stars appearing at the festival included the likes of Robert De Niro, Oliver Stone, Meryl Streep, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, John Travolta, Wim Wenders, Meg Ryan, Kathy Bates, Krzystof Kieslowsky, Roman Polanski, Emir Kusturica, Jon Voight, Susan Sarandon, Edward Norton, Nicolas Cage, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Winona Ryder, Danny de Vito, Sergio Leone, Sacha Baron Cohen, Giancarlo Giannini, and Ugo Tognazzi.