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John Turturro goes back to his roots

Actor-director plans several Italian projects

VENICE– It’s a very Italian time for John Turturro.

Aside from his documentary “Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy,” unspooling here out-of-competition, the Queens-born thesp/helmer whose family hails from Italy, has several other local projects in the pipeline.

Next week, Turturro will start shooting an as-yet untitled documentary on Neapolitan song, co-produced by the Campania Region and Italy’s Istituto Luce.

Early next year he is planning to direct a stage adaptation of several stories from Italo Calvino’s “Italian Folktales,” produced by the Teatro Stabile di Torino.

Turturro’s “Souls of Naples,” a film adaptation of Edoardo De Filippo’s famous Neapolitan play “Questi Fantasmi,” which Turturro directed for the stage in New York and Naples, is also on track. Turturro has completed the screenplay and producer Domenico Procacci is casting.

“When you get a little older, you have a complicated relationship with your other home country,” Turturro said. “Being an American you realize how anglified you are; it’s nice to find a little balance in your life.”

Turturro’s familiarity with Italy started in the 1980s when he came to Sicily to shoot Michael Cimino’s “The Sicilian.”

But he has since been back frequently, and has developed a desire to share what he’s learned about the country.

His Neapolitan song doc will “investigate the longevity of (the style) and why it’s traveled so widely.”

It will be a mix of past and modern-day singers with a focus on “playing up the irony rather than the sentimentality,” he said.

As for Turturro’s English-language “Souls of Naples,” in which he would also star, plans are for some members of the play’s thesps to join the cast, including Max Casella and Aida Turturro, and to add Italian talent and another name star to “help it travel.”

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