Polanski fete could signal Moretti return


ROME -- The Turin Film Festival will honor Roman Polanski at this year's event, organizers said Monday, a move many see as a strong sign that artistic director Nanni Moretti will be back for a second year.

Although the festival has given no indication that the award-winning director, screenwriter and actor would not be returning, the local press has speculated that his controversial directorship of the 2007 festival might turn out to be a one-off deal.

Last year saw Moretti leave his position as festival boss just two days after his appointment, only to ultimately be lured back following a power struggle.

Monday's announcement, which the start of the Nov. 21-29 festival by a full nine months, comes on the heels of Polanski's cameo ap-pearance in "Caos Calmo" (Quiet Chaos), the drama from Antonio Luigi Grimaldi that Moretti co-wrote and starred in. The film screened to lukewarm reviews in competition in Berlin but has been a hit in Italy.

"I knew I would like for him to come to Turin, but I did not want to ask while we were shooting the film," Moretti said during an interview with state broadcaster RAI. "But I sent him a note afterward, and he accepted."

Polanski, 74, won a best director Oscar for "The Pianist" and received nominations for: 1979's "Tess," "Chinatown" in 1973 and "Rosemary's Baby" from 1968.

Turin also has announced plans to honor Jean-Pierre Melville, the French director who died in 1973 at the age of 56. Melville, perhaps best known for the 1967 thriller "Le Samourai," received much ac-claim last year when his 1969 effort "Army of Shadows" received its first U.S. release.

Polanski's presence will add prestige to the 26-year-old Turin festival as it battles for attention with the RomaCinemaFest, which will hold its third edition Oct. 22-31 -- less than a month before Turin opens. The proximity of the two events was one of the main topics Moretti complained about, stoking a controversy between the festivals.