Bella Thorne at 2023 Sundance

Bella Thorne moves as director, now festival programmer

Bella Thorne says goodbye to her role as festival programmer.

The director of “Paint Her Red”, who makes her directorial debut with the short film, will curate a selection for the “Influential Shorts” gala programming for the Taormina Film Festival 2023. Thorne has chosen “Don’t Go Too Far” as the first short film screened together with his.

Thorne and Taormina Film Festival co-artistic director Barrett Wissman selected “Don’t Go Too Far,” directed by Saudi director Maram Taibah. The film follows an intellectually disabled Arab man (Hakeem Jomah) who is accidentally separated from his sister (Ida Alkusay) on a New York City subway. Having never been left alone in his entire life, the train takes him away. He is left to find his way home alone in a listless city. “Don’t Go Too Far” is written and directed by Taibah and produced by Jaselle Martino. The short is currently screened in competition at the 2023 Saudi Film Festival in Dahran, Saudi Arabia. Through its mission to encourage emerging talent in film, the festival has helped facilitate Thorne’s selection.

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“This film opens up a larger conversation about mental disability and the lack of education and knowledge that our society provides us with,” said Thorne. “Our society does not lead with love and empathy or provide education on mental disability. I have made this caring job my responsibility to bring more eyes to such a topic to start a more meaningful conversation.”

Thorne added of her curating process: “We all connect through stories – looking at art should be like looking in a mirror. I searched for short films that spoke to me about family dynamics, trauma in any form, stories of internalized hatred, and mother/daughter and father/son stories. I look for stories that show balance: both the good and bad sides of life, and the light and dark 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 he co-wrote, directed and starred in with actress Juliet Sterner. Academy Award-nominated writer Oren Moverman narrates the short film, which also debuts at the Taormina Film Fest.

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