THE BLOG
02/07/2013 09:07 pm ET Updated Apr 09, 2013

L.A.'s Italian Film Fest Honors Al Pacino With the Jack Valenti Legend Award

The Italian government has declared 2013 as "The Year of Italian Culture in the United States," and the west coast's celebration is highlighted by L.A. Italia, also known as the Italian Film Festival, which rolls into the Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard from February 17 - 23. It is a celebration of the Mediterranean nation's finest film and music, and has blossomed into a world class event, crowned by the inaugural Jack Valenti Legend Award being given to Al Pacino.

Producer Mark Canton (300, Immortals) serves as L.A. Italia's Honorary Chair. He comments on this year's festival.

When you look at the quality of the pictures, filmmakers, and musicians coming this year, it's really a big impressive array, and shows the growth of the festival. L.A. Italia has really gotten a foothold in the community, especially the week before the Oscars when people might otherwise be distracted. And for me personally, being the inaugural year for the Jack Valenti Award, the festival's highest honor is incredible. Jack was such a prominent force and mentor of mine, and of course of Italian descent - with the blessing of his daughter, Courtenay Valenti, his name has been lent for this award to Al Pacino who doesn't receive awards in a cavalier, casual fashion. Lina Wertmuller reached out to Al Pacino personally asking him to receive this honor. I'm proud to be associated with the event founder, Pascal Vicedomini, and this fabulous event.

Known for his forceful dramatic presentation, Al Pacino is most closely associated with the roles of Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, as well as Tony Montana of the legendary gangster film Scarface. However, it was his performance as Frank Slade, a blind, retired Lt. Colonel, in Scent of a Woman that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1993 and a supporting actor nomination in the same year for Glengarry Glen Ross. This came after seven previous Oscar nominations for The Godfather (1973), Serpico (1974), The Godfather: Part II (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1976), And Justice For All (1980) and Dick Tracy (1990).

Oscar-nominated director Lina Wertmüller comments on Pacino:

He is one of the greatest actors in all of film history, and established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. His commitment to acting as a profession and his constant screen dominance has established him as one of the movies' true legends. There is no one in the world more suitable and deserving to receive the first Jack Valenti L.A., Italia Legend Award.

Pacino films will be screened through the week including Scent Of A Woman, Scarface, The Godfather Part 2, and The Merchant of Venice.

Scene with Al Pacino in The Godfather Part Two:

Also featured at this year's festival will be a celebration of the spaghetti western genre with screenings of Italian films that inspired Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. In attendance will be Franco Nero (the original Django who has a cameo in Tarantino's Oscar nominated film) as well as Giuliano Gemma, and other actors who played gunmen in the visionary Italian films of the 1970s.

In all approximately forty films celebrating Italian culture (including Woody Allen's 2012 To Rome With Love) will be screened. Director Iginio Straffi, whose Gladiators of Rome 3D will be released by Paramount later this year will also attend. Italian music icon, Zucchero, will also be honored for his work.

Check the website for more details: www.losangelesitalia.com.