Organisers of Italy's Taormina Film Fest staged a moving tribute to late actor James Gandolfini on the day he was supposed to pick up one of the event's top prizes.

The Sopranos star died of a heart attack in Rome on Wednesday (19Jun13) just days before he was due to accept the Taormina City Prize alongside actress Marisa Tomei at the festival in Sicily on Saturday (22Jun13).

A tribute was organised to pay homage to Gandolfini at the event, where a montage of his best-known film and Tv roles played on a big screen in front of thousands of spectators at the Teatro Antico venue.

Italian director Giulio Base was in the crowd during Saturday's tribute, and admits many audience members were crying throughout. In a post on, he writes, "James Gandolfini is on the air (sic). The tribute to him by the Taormina Film Fest was moving. I'm crying. And I'm not the only one."