TRIBUTE TO MASTERS |A Carnival Celebrating Federico Fellini’s Centennial Birthday
Marking the anniversaries of several film masters, 2020 is a noteworthy year for world film. Today is the centennial birthday of Italian film maestro Federico Fellini.
Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
Do you still remember? In 2016, SIFF screened Fellini’s AMARCORD (4K Restored Version) in the Classic Restoration Series. The semi-autobiographical film won Fellini the fourth Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and met with universal approval in China.
After 4 years, besides AMARCORD, the 4K restored version of almost all the other important films of Fellini have been released. Luce Cinecitta curated Fellini centennial world tour to pay highest respect to this world-class film maestro and bring to the audience a film feast.
The tour will travel to major film museums and film institutions worldwide. Almost all the films directed by Fellini have been digitally restored by Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cineteca Nazionale.
Federico Fellini was born on January 20, 1920 in Rimini, an Italian coastal city. Interested in comics as a boy, particularly good at caricature, he began to drew comics for magazines in high school. In his adult year, since 1939, he was an editor to a comic biweekly and came in contact with movies by then.
The Italian neo-realist film master Roberto Rossellini was a mentor to Fellini. The two met accidentally at Fellini’s cartoon studio. At first, Fellini wrote script for Robert Rossellini and even played a cameo in Rossellini’s L’AMORE (1948). The moment he was involved in a movie, it hit him like a lightning: “Like drawing and writing, making films is free and unrestrained.” In 1950, Fellini started to direct films independently.
The styles of his works were kaleidoscopic and diverse. Influenced by Rossellini, his early works were dominated by Italian neo-realist style. Later, after getting treated for depression, his film style switched from realism to surrealism, and gradually moving towards extra-sensory psychology.
Fellini playing an apostle in L’AMORE
Like confetti, parties, dreams, memories, circus, street artists, ornate costumes and plump women scattered in Fellini’s films and became the most iconic elements. Dreamlike story-telling and non-linear narrative was at his disposal for an intricate combination of reality and dreams and dazzling, crazy party. Because of his distinctive style, “Fellinian” and “Felliniesque” later became synonymous with exquisite yet simple fantasy and surrealism.
Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren
On the set of 8 1/2
Fellini’s like Peter Pan, jumping back to his childhood and youth through film and playing with the films. But he also childishly insisted that, the autobiographical films were invented, “I have to admit that, those biographical films of mine only depicted fictitious memories.”
He owed much of his creativity to his muse, Giulietta Masina. Fellini met Giulietta in 1942, and they fell in love at first sight. Giulietta was a radio drama actress, who caught the attention of Fellini by reading his radio play. 22-year-old Fellini phoned immediately to invite her to dinner. The two got married in 1943, less than a year after the date.
Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina
Through decades of harmonious marital life, Giulietta freed Fellini from the psychological torture he suffered from and gave him most comfort and inspiration. Fellini called Giulietta a “clown”, the noblest title he gave to her. In his opinion, “Playing a clown tests the most precious gift in an actor. Those who can play clown are the noblest of all stage arts.” LA STRATA (1954) and LE NOTTI DI CABIRIA (1957), the two films the couple cooperated won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for Fellini and the latter won Giulietta the best actress at Cannes Film Festival.
Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina
The strong creativity Fellini showed in his films was recognized by festivals around the world. He won four Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, a record matched by no one. Other honors include Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm Award, Venice Film Festival Silver Lion Award, David di Donatello for Best Director, etc.
On March 29, 1993, at the 65th Academy Awards ceremony Fellini received Academy Honorary Award from famous Italian actress Sophia Loren and lifelong friend Marcello Mastroianni. He thanked everyone, but only named his wife, “Thank you, dear Giulietta -- and, please stop crying!” In October, Fellini and Giulietta celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and the next day he passed away. Giulietta also passed away 5 months later.
Academy Honorary Award 1993
From left to right: Marcello Mastroianni, Federico Fellini and Sophia Loren
All awards, all the titles starting with “best”, are overshadowed by Fellini’s achievement, and he is forever guiding the filmmakers of later generations. The works of Fellini have nourished Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Bob Fosse, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson and countless other directors and sustained the vitality of filmmaking.
Today is Fellini’s 100th birthday, and we still seem to feel the undying genius of his works. He has never left us. We expect that the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival will revitalize our memories of him via the Fellini world tour. Federico Fellini 100 will be a bountiful feast and a film carnival.
All right, the light is dimmed, and the film carnival is about to start!