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Moretti opts out of Turin Fest fracas

Artistic director resigns two days after taking job

ROME — Nanni Moretti’s tenure as artistic director of the Turin Film Festival may be one for the Guinness Book of World Records.

On Dec. 29, two days after accepting the position as head of Italy’s respected festival dedicated to new international helmers, Moretti announced: “It is with great pain that I give up the job and leave you to your method problems, procedural disputes and personal grudges.”

As the actor-director behind popular films such as “Caro Diario,” “The Son’s Room” and “The Caiman,” Moretti has an impressive local fan base as well as international standing. The prospect of his heading Turin, which runs in November, jolted toppers at Italy’s Venice and Rome fests. Although those events have higher profiles, their September run dates make for a close calendar — and Moretti’s profile threatened to revitalize the low-key Turin.

But, as is often the case in Italy, squabbling got in the way of change.

Moretti’s appointment was backed and negotiated by onetime Turin chief Alberto Barbera. Head of the city’s renowned film museum and a past director of the Venice fest, Barbera held one of the Turin festival’s key board posts.

However, he engaged in a power struggle that Italo papers dubbed a Freudian “father and son” conflict with Gianni Rondolino — his former film professor, who also founded the Turin fest 24 years ago.

Barbera claimed Rondolino balked at plans for a radical revamp that was made necessary, he said, by the 2006 debut of the Rome Film Festival.

Prior to Moretti’s appointment, Barbera and local pols pulled financial support from the fest, about $2.9 million. They presumed Rondolino would give up, allowing them to set up what was essentially a new Turin fest with Moretti in charge.

But the feisty Rondolino vowed to forge ahead with the original Turin event, even without government coin. Moretti responded by disentangling himself from Turin and the potential for participating in a festival faceoff. As for Barbera, he immediately resigned from his museum post.

Protags of the Turin saga are keeping mum as they lick their wounds and regroup over the holidays, which last in Italy until after the Catholic celebration of Epiphany on Jan. 6.

“We are just spectators in this incredible situation,” says Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, Turin’s outgoing co-director with Roberto Turigliatto. The pair also are former Rondolino students at the U. of Turin.

The Italian press has had a field day with Moretti’s about-face, with Corriere Della Sera calling him “the first cadaver in Italy’s festival war.”

Indeed, as the dust settles, it’s likely the Turin turbulence will be the first tremor in a seismic reshaping of Italy’s crowded fest landscape.

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