Artistic director exits post at Italian festival

Nanni Moretti has resigned as artistic director of the Turin Film Festival, prompting speculation that another big-name Italo helmer may take over as chief of the small but prominent international indie event.

Oscar winners Roberto Benigni, Giuseppe Tornatore and Gabriele Salvatores are among names being bandied in the Italian press to replace Moretti, who stepped down Saturday after a two-year stint.

Moretti said he decided to leave the fest to focus on his next pic, which he plans to start shooting next year. Details are being kept under wraps.

The auteur’s most recent feature is 2006 anti-Berlusconi satire “The Caiman,” which followed his 2001 Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Son’s Room.”

“I can no longer guarantee Turin the same amount of attention and energy,” Moretti said in a statement.

“I am leaving a unique festival which can still grow and continue to support good independent and auteur cinema,” he added.

Moretti’s resignation comes one week after Turin wrapped a highly successful edition that saw Oliver Stone and Roman Polanski as guests, a rise in attendance, and Chilean helmer Pablo Larrain’s “Tony Manero” the big winner.

Moretti had come aboard Turin two years ago in the wake of stepped-up competition posed by the now 3-year-old Rome Film Festival, to which he has always been averse despite being a quintessential Roman.

While organizers may succeed in recruiting another prominent Italo auteur as Turin artistic director in order to maintain the event’s gravitas and visibility, Moretti will certainly be a tough act to follow. Alternately, insiders suggest that the organizers may opt for a high-profile professional fest assembler, possibly from outside Italy.

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