New Turin chief sets out his stall

ROME — Nanni Moretti debuted as Turin Film Festival topper on Thursday claiming he has no intention of competing with Venice or Rome and vowing to preserve the indie spirit of the event dedicated to young helmers and cutting edge cinema.

“Venice, Rome and Turin are three different festivals with separate identities, so I don’t think there will any problems between them,” the helmer told Daily Variety following a Turin press conference.

Moretti’s definitive appointment capped a month-long saga which saw the popular auteur first accept the Turin post in late December, and then resign just two days later because he did not want to be caught up in a power struggle between organizers, which has now been resolved.

“I have accepted to head Turin because I have always felt at ease here; I like the climate, the atmosphere, the informal spirit, the audience,” said Moretti.

“Naturally, with help from my collaborators, it is possible that I will put my stamp on it; but in line with the tradition of the festival that I have always liked to attend.”

Moretti and Turin Film Museum director Alberto Barbera, the former topper of both the Turin and Venice fests, who has been instrumental to Moretti’s appointment, said details of Turin’s structure, its dates, and names of new collaborators will be announced in Berlin.

But Barbera announced one key novelty: a “project for a permanent laboratory to support and develop projects by young filmmakers,” which he said can make Turin a hub for launching first-time helmers.”

Turin’s planned film fund, similar to those in other European fests, from Rotterdam to Cannes, but also to the Sundance Insti-tute, is prompting parallels between Moretti and Robert Redford in the Italian press, which has already started to dub Turin Italy’s new Sundance.

Indeed, having Moretti at the helm will clearly give the established event, now at its 25th edition, a big boost, prompting a likely reconfiguration of Italy’s crowded fest landscape.

Turin has in the past served as a launching pad for Italian helmers such as Matteo Garrone (“The Embalmer”) and Paolo Sor-rentino (“The Family Friend”). It also introduced Alexander Payne, Wes Anderson, and Darren Aronofsky to Italian auds.

The prolific Moretti, whose previous experience as fest topper is limited to a yearly showcase of emerging Italian directors in his Rome Nuovo Sacher arthouse, is a Cannes Palme d’Or winner with “The Son’s Room.” “The Caiman” his recent anti-Berlusconi pic, was a big 2006 Italo box office draw.

Moretti is now up for a rare thesping turn in 2007 as protag of drama “Caos Calmo” (Calm Chaos), in which he will play a Milan paybox exec who spends his days in a parked car after his wife’s sudden death. Moretti also is collaborating on the script of “Chaos” to be helmed by Antonello Grimaldi (“Bits and Pieces”).

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more