France's Ronald Chammah Leading Candidate For Turin Fest Job (Report)

Gabriele Salvatores had been seen as the leading candidate, but he removed his name from consideration earlier this week.

ROME – French writer, director, producer, and event curator Ronald Chammah has emerged as the leading candidate to be named the next artistic director of the Turin Film Festival, the Italian media reported Friday.

Chammah’s name came to light after Oscar-winning Italian director Gabriele Salvatores, seen as the most likely candidate for the post, said he was too busy to take the job. The festival is looking for a replacement for Italian maestro Gianni Amelio, who completed his mandate with this year’s edition.

Turin has a taste for hiring film directors to run the festival -- six-times Cannes Palme d’Or nominee Nanni Moretti preceded Amelio in the job -- but Chammah’s directorial experience is limited: he is best known for the 1988 comedy Milan Noir, and he has worked more often as a producer and event organizer. 

Chammah, who is part Italian and who speaks Italian fluently, has been married for the last 30 years to iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert, and is the father of actress Lolita Chammah.

For months, Salvatores, director of the war drama Mediterraneo, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign language Film in 1992, had been considered the odds-on favorite to take over as artistic director. But earlier this week he said at the Courmayeur Noir Festival and said it would be “difficult” for him to take the job in Turin due to his busy schedule. On Thursday, Turin organizers announced Salvatores was no longer a candidate for the job.

The 30th edition of the festival, which ran Nov. 23-Dec. 1, drew accolades for its lineup, but earned most of its headlines internationally after U.K. director Ken Loach announced he would turn down the career honor the festival planned to honor him with in protest of alleged worker abuses at the National Film Museum, the festival’s parent organization.

In 2013, the Turin festival will take place in October. It moved up its dates to accommodate a controversial move to November by the seven-year-old International Rome Film Festival.