Cinema Arts Festival 2010

Opening night of Cinema Arts Festival is a Turturro takeover

Opening night of Cinema Arts Festival is a Turturro takeover

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John Turturro Photo by Michelle Watson/LastNightPics.com
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Oscar Aguilar , Elisa Aguilar Photo by Michelle Watson/LastNightPics.com
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Bill Plympton Photo by Michelle Watson/LastNightPics.com
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Cesar Galindo , Joanne King Herring Photo by Michelle Watson/LastNightPics.com
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Joe Ray Sandoval , Kate Kennedy Photo by Michelle Watson/LastNightPics.com
News_Cinema Arts Red Carpet 2010_John Turturro
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News_Cinema Arts_Red Carpet_2010_Bill Plympton
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John Turturro took the opening night audience at  the second annual Cinema Arts Festival Houston on a Neapolitan holiday with his new film of Southern Italian song.

"I've made a lot of movies," said the actor/director, who has appeared in Barton FinkThe Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. "But I've never been around so many talented people," he added, giving due to the dozens of native Neapolitan singers who are captured performing in the streets of Naples in Passione, the film which he co-wrote, directed and narrated.

The passion of what Turturro called "this city painted with song" washed over an enraptured audience in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Brown Auditorium. Following the screening, Turturro engaged in a lively question and answer session with viewers.

But first — there was the red carpet affair upstairs. Sultry cinephiles posed for photographs at the entry of the Caroline Weiss Law Building before jaunting up to the mezzanine for champagne under the gaze of Rosenquist, Kelly and Stella. 

"I have no doubt that this festival will be fantastic," said Franci Crane, the event's chief supporter. "Our staff is cracker jack. The only tragedy of the festival is that you can't see everything — we had to have competition. I'd love to see Black Swan on Sunday, but then there's Fellini's 8 1/2 here at the MFAH."

So how did Cinema Arts snag the talented man of the hour?

"A good friend of mine is a friend of Roman Paska, who's a director of the film tomorrow, Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy, which he worked on with Turturro," said festival director Richard Herskowitz, who brought Turturro to his Virginia Film Festival a few years ago for a successful showing of Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes. "He was drawn to Houston because we were really prepared to show these two films that he cares about so much: films that were made about Italian culture."

"It's a film that deals with more than one art form," Turturro told CultureMap. "There's dance, music, film, photography, Caravaggio paintings — that's what this festival is all about."

Outside of New York, the Cinema Arts Festival represents the film's second American screening.

Turturro hinted that we can spot the native Brooklynite visiting the Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel — but that doesn't mean that he'll be passing up on the other festival installments, stating, "It seems like quite a nice selection."

"I'm even more excited than last year," Herskowitz told CultureMap.