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ROME — Nanni Moretti last week gave Italy’s shifting festival landscape a tectonic jolt.

The prolific 2001 Cannes Palme d’Or winner for “The Son’s Room,” who more recently scored at the Italo B.O. with scathing anti-Berlusconi satire “The Caiman,” accepted a surprise invitation to head the Turin Film Festival, rousing almost everyone in Italo industry circles out of their Christmas stupor.

The modality of Moretti’s appointment as fest topper conjures comparisons with a bloodless coup, but the means used by his backers to oust Turin founder and prexy Davide Rondolino, and its artistic co-directors, critics Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan and Roberto Turigliatto, actually seem legit.

Basically, one-time Turin topper Alberto Barbera, who currently heads the renowned Turin Film Museum and holds a key post on the fest board, got together with the local pols who approve the fest’s annual 2.2 million Euros ($ 2.9 million) budget and they decided to pull the coin, following a fierce power squabble with Rondolino whom they claim was balking at their plans for a radical revamp.

“Our ideas were irreconcilable with Rondolino’s,” Barbera, who is also a former Venice chief, told Variety.

“Turin needs to move fast to start preparing its next edition and avoid suffering any damages from idleness.”

From a formal standpoint, Barbera and the pols are founding a new Turin fest, since Rondolino holds the title to the original event.

The niche fest for young helmers and edgy pics clearly risked being crushed by the new RomeFilmFest juggernaut that debuted in 2006 on a positive note, making a boost imperative for Turin, which over its 24-year course had earned a solid but not stellar standing.

Meanwhile, a festive Moretti, speaking to reporters at his Nuovo Sacher arthouse where the helmer/thesp is performing a monologue from his autobiographical “Caro Diario,” said Turin’s sections will be “slimmed down and its rapport with Italian cinema strengthened,” all to make up a fest that will be both “serious and happy.”

“Moretti’s appointment should put everyone who loves cinema in a good mood,” said Rome fest co-topper Giorgio Gosetti.

It really seems as though Rome is acting as a strong agent of change.

On the same day Moretti was appointed Turin topper, the time-worn Venice fest announced plans for a new Palazzo del Cinema to be built by 2010. That would be an outright miracle.