Alberto Barbera, the former director of the Venice Film Festival, will serve as guest director of this year's Telluride Film Festival which kicks off in the Colorado mountain resort on Aug 30 and goes through to Sept 2.

Serving as a key collaborator in all the festival's programming decisions, Barbera joins a long line of guest directors invited by the festival directors Bill Pence and Tom Luddy to programme the festival. Previous guest directors include Salman Rushdie (2001), Peter Bogdanovich (1998), John Boorman (1993), Laurie Anderson (1991), Bertrand Tavernier (1990) and Errol Morris (1988).

In a statement Luddy said that because Telluride always clashed with Venice, the festival has been lacking in strong Italian films but this year Ferrara will showcase several forgotten Italian film masters from the 50s and 60s.

Barbera was the director of Venice from 1999 to 2001, and before that was director of the Turin Film Festival from 1989 to 1998. He was the chief film critic of La Gazzetta Del Popolo from 1980 to 1983 and was a television critic from 1983 to 1989.

Telluride, which keeps its programme secret until opening day, has hosted North American premieres for films including Amelie, No Man's Land, Lantana and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.