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Federico Fellini
Born January 20, 1920(1920-01-20)
Rimini, Italy
Died October 31, 1993 (aged 73)
Rome, Italy
Years active (1945 - 1992)
Spouse(s) Giulietta Masina (1943 - 1993) (his death)

Federico Fellini, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI[1] (January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993) was an Italian film director. Known for a distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images, he is considered one of the most influential and widely revered filmmakers of the 20th century.[2]


Early life and education

Rimini (1920-1938)

Fellini was born on January 20, 1920 to middle-class parents in Rimini, then a small town on the Adriatic Sea. His father, Urbano Fellini (1894-1956), born to a family of Romagnol peasants and small landholders from Gambettola, moved to Rome in 1915 as a baker apprenticed to the Pantanella pasta factory. His mother, Ida Barbiani (1896-1984), came from a bourgeois Catholic family of Roman merchants. Despite her family’s vehement disapproval, she eloped with Urbano in 1917 to live at his parent’s home in Gambettola.[3] A civil marriage followed in 1918 with the religious ceremony held at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome a year later. The couple settled in Rimini where Urbano became a traveling salesman and wholesale vendor. Fellini had two siblings: Riccardo (1921-1991), a documentary director for RAI Television, and Maria Maddalena (m. Fabbri; 1929-2002).

In 1924, Fellini started primary school with the Sisters of Vincenzo in Rimini, attending the Carlo Tonni public school two years later. An attentive student, he spent his leisure time drawing, staging puppet shows, and reading Il corriere dei piccoli, the popular children’s magazine that reproduced traditional American cartoons by Windsor McCay, George McManus, and Frederick Burr Opper. McCay’s Little Nemo had a direct influence on City of Women while Opper’s Happy Hooligan was the visual inspiration for Gelsomina in La Strada.[4] In 1926, he discovered the world of Grand Guignol, the circus with Pierino the Clown, and the movies. Guido Brignone’s Maciste all’Inferno (1926), the first film he saw, would mark him in ways linked to Dante and the cinema throughout his entire career.[5]

Enrolled at the Ginnasio Giulio Cesare in 1929, he became a friend of Luigi ‘Titta’ Benzi, later a prominent Rimini lawyer and the model for young Titta in Amarcord (1973). In Mussolini’s Italy, Fellini and Riccardo became members of the Avanguardista, the compulsory Fascist youth group for males. He visited Rome with his parents for the first time in 1933, the year of the maiden voyage of the SS Rex, the transatlantic ocean liner referenced in Amarcord. The sea creature found on the beach at the end of La Dolce Vita (1960) has its basis in a giant fish marooned on a Rimini beach during a storm in 1934. Although Fellini adapted key events from his childhood and adolescence in films such as I Vitelloni (1953), (1963), and Amarcord (1973), he insisted that such autobiographical memories were inventions: "It is not memory that dominates my films. To say that my films are autobiographical is an overly facile liquidation, a hasty classification. It seems to me that I have invented almost everything: childhood, character, nostalgias, dreams, memories, for the pleasure of being able to recount them."[6]

In 1937, Fellini opened Febo, a portrait shop in Rimini with the painter Demos Bonini. His first humorous article appeared in the "Postcards to Our Readers" section of Rimini’s Domenica del Corriere. Deciding on a career as a caricaturist and gag writer, Fellini travelled to Florence in 1938 where he published his first cartoon in the weekly 420. Failing his military culture exam, he graduated from high school in July 1938 after doubling the exam.

Rome (1939)

In September 1939, he enrolled in law school at the University of Rome to please his parents although biographer Hollis Alpert reports that "there is no record of his ever having attended a class".[7] Installed in a family pensione, he met another lifelong friend, the painter Rinaldo Geleng. Desperately poor, they unsuccessfully joined forces to draw sketches of restaurant and café patrons. Fellini eventually found work as a cub reporter on the dailies Il Piccolo and Il Popolo di Roma but quit after a short stint, bored by the local court news assignments.

Four months after publishing his first article in Marc’Aurelio, the highly influential biweekly humour magazine, he joined the editorial board, achieving success with a regular column titled Will You Listen to What I Have to Say?[8] Described as “the determining moment in Fellini’s life”,[9] he enjoyed steady employment between 1939 and 1942, interacting with writers, gagmen, and scriptwriters that eventually led to opportunities in show business and cinema. Among his collaborators on the magazine’s editorial board were the future director Ettore Scola, Marxist theorist and scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini, and Bernardino Zapponi, a future Fellini screenwriter. Conducting interviews for CineMagazzino also proved congenial: when asked to interview Aldo Fabrizi, Italy’s most popular variety performer, their immediate personal rapport led to professional collaboration. Specializing in humorous monologues, Fabrizi commissioned material from his young protegé.[10]

Career and later life

Early screenplays (1940-43)

Retained on business in Rimini, Urbano sent wife and family to Rome in 1940 to share an apartment with his son. Fellini and Ruggero Maccari, also on the staff of Marc’Aurelio, began writing radio sketches and gags for films. Not yet twenty and with Fabrizi’s help, Fellini obtained his first screen credit as a comedy writer on Mario Mattoli’s Il pirata sono io (The Pirate's Dream). Progressing rapidly to numerous collaborations on films at Cinecittà, his circle of professional acquaintances widened to include novelist Vitaliano Brancati and scriptwriter Piero Tellini. In the wake of Mussolini’s declaration of war against France and England on June 10, 1940, he discovered Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Gogol, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner along with French films by Marcel Carné, René Clair, and Julien Duvivier.[11] In 1941 he published Il mio amico Pasqualino, a 74-page booklet in ten chapters describing the absurd adventures of Pasqualino, an alter ego.[12]

Writing for radio while attempting to avoid the draft, Fellini met his future wife Giulietta Masina in a studio office at EIAR (Italian Radio Broadcast Corporation) in autumn 1942. Well-paid as the voice of Pallina in Fellini's radio serial, Cico and Pallina, Masina was also known for her musical-comedy broadcasts which cheered an audience depressed by the war.[13] In November 1942, Fellini was sent to Libya, occupied by Fascist Italy, to work on the screenplay of I cavalieri del deserto (Knights of the Desert, 1942), directed by Osvaldo Valenti and Gino Talamo. Fellini welcomed the assignment as it allowed him "to secure another extension on his draft order".[14] Responsible for emergency re-writing, he also directed the film's first scenes. When Tripoli fell under siege by British forces, he and his colleagues made a narrow escape by boarding a German military plane flying to Sicily. His African adventure, later published in Marc’Aurelio as "The First Flight", marked “the emergence of a new Fellini, no longer just a screenwriter, working and sketching at his desk, but a filmmaker out in the field”.[15]

The apolitical Fellini was finally freed of the draft when an Allied air raid over Bologna destroyed his medical records. Fellini and Giulietta hid in her aunt’s apartment until Mussolini's fall on July 25, 1943. After dating for nine months, the couple were married on October 30, 1943. Several months later, Masina fell down the stairs and suffered a miscarriage. She gave birth to a son, Pierfederico, on March 22, 1944 but the child died of encephalitis three weeks later. The tragedy had enduring emotional and artistic repercussions.[16]

Neorealist apprenticeship (1944-1949)

After the Allied liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944, Fellini and Enrico De Seta opened the Funny Face Shop where they survived the postwar recession drawing caricatures of American soldiers. Roberto Rossellini, at work on Stories of Yesteryear (later Rome, Open City), met Fellini in his shop proposing he contribute gags and dialogue for the script . Aware of Fellini’s reputation as Aldo Fabrizi’s “creative muse”,[17] Rossellini also requested he try to convince the actor to play the role of Father Giuseppe Morosini, the parish priest executed by the SS on April 4, 1944.

In 1947, Fellini and Sergio Amidei received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay of Rome, Open City.

Working as both screenwriter and assistant director on Rossellini’s Paisà (Paisan) in 1946, Fellini was entrusted to film the Sicilian scenes in Maiori. In February 1948, he was introduced to Marcello Mastroianni, then a young theatre actor appearing in a play with Giulietta Masina.[18] Establishing a close working relationship with Alberto Lattuada, Fellini co-wrote the director’s Senza pietà (Without Pity) and Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po). Fellini also worked with Rossellini on the anthology film L'Amore (1948), co-writing the screenplay and in one segment titled, "The Miracle", acting opposite Anna Magnani. To play the role of a vagabond rogue mistaken by Magnani for a saint, Fellini had to bleach his black hair blond.

Early films (1950-53)

In 1950 Fellini co-produced and co-directed with Alberto Lattuada, Variety Lights (Luci del varietà), his first feature film. A backstage comedy set among the world of small-time travelling performers, it featured Giulietta Masina and Lattuada’s wife, Carla del Poggio. Its release to poor reviews and limited distribution proved disastrous for all concerned. The production company went bankrupt, leaving both Fellini and Lattuada with debts to pay for over a decade.[19] In February 1950, Paisà received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay by Rossellini, Sergio Amidei, and Fellini.

After travelling to Paris for a script conference with Rossellini on Europa '51, Fellini began production on The White Sheik in September 1951, his first solo-directed feature. Starring Alberto Sordi in the title role, the film is a revised version of a treatment first written by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1949 and based on the fotoromanzi, the photographed cartoon strip romances popular in Italy at the time. Producer Carlo Ponti commissioned Fellini and Tullio Pinelli to write the script but Antonioni rejected the story they developed. With Ennio Flaiano, they re-worked the material into a light-hearted satire about newly-wed couple Ivan and Wanda Cavalli (Leopoldo Trieste, Brunello Bovo) in Rome to visit the Pope. Ivan’s prissy mask of respectability is soon demolished by his wife’s obsession with the White Sheik. Highlighting the music of Nino Rota, the film was selected at Cannes (among the films in competition was Orson Welles’s Othello) and then retracted. Screened at the 13th Venice Film Festival, it was razzed by critics in “the atmosphere of a soccer match”.[20] One reviewer declared that Fellini had “not the slightest aptitude for cinema direction”.

In 1953, I Vitelloni found favour with the critics and public. Winning the Silver Lion Award in Venice, it secured Fellini’s first international distributor.

Beyond neorealism (1954-60)

Fellini directed La Strada based on a script completed in 1952 with Pinelli and Flaiano. During the last three weeks of shooting, Fellini experienced the first signs of severe clinical depression.[21] Aided by his wife, he undertook a brief period of therapy with Freudian psychoanalyst Emilio Servadio.[21]

Fellini cast American actor Broderick Crawford to interpret the role of an aging swindler in Il Bidone. Based partly on stories told to him by a petty thief during production of La Strada, Fellini developed the script into a con man’s slow descent towards a solitary death. To incarnate the role’s “intense, tragic face”, Fellini’s first choice had been Humphrey Bogart[22] but after learning of the actor’s lung cancer, chose Crawford after seeing his face on the theatrical poster of All the King’s Men (1949). The film shoot was wrought with difficulties stemming from Crawford’s alcoholism.[23] Savaged by critics at the 16th Venice Film Festival, the film did miserable box office and did not receive international distribution until 1964.

During the autumn, Fellini researched and developed a treatment based on a film adaptation of Mario Tobino’s novel, The Free Women of Magliano. Located in a mental institution for women, financial backers considered the subject had no potential and the project was abandoned.

While preparing Nights of Cabiria in spring 1956, Fellini learnt of his father’s death by cardiac arrest at the age of 62. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and starring Giulietta Masina, the film took its inspiration from news reports on a woman’s decapitated head retrieved in a lake and stories by Wanda, a shantytown prostitute Fellini met on the set of Il Bidone.[24] Pier Paolo Pasolini was hired to translate Flaiano and Pinelli’s dialogue into Roman dialect and to supervise researches in the vice-afflicted suburbs of Rome. The movie won an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film and brought Masina the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her performance.

With Pinelli, he developed Journey with Anita for Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck. An “invention born out of intimate truth”, the script was based on Fellini's return to Rimini with a mistress to attend his father's funeral.[25] Due to Loren’s unavailability, the project was shelved and resurrected twenty-five years later as Lovers and Liars (1981), a comedy directed by Mario Monicelli with Goldie Hawn and Giancarlo Giannini. For Eduardo De Filippo, he co-wrote the script of Fortunella, tailoring the lead role to accommodate Masina’s particular sensibility.

The Hollywood on the Tiber phenomenon of 1958 in which American studios profited from the cheap studio labour available in Rome provided the backdrop for photojournalists to steal shots of celebrities on the via Veneto.[26] The scandal provoked by Turkish dancer Haish Nana’s improvised striptease at a nightclub captured Fellini’s imagination: he decided to end his latest script-in-progress, Moraldo in the City, with an all-night “orgy” at a seaside villa. Pierluigi Praturlon’s photos of Anita Ekberg wading fully dressed in the Trevi Fountain provided further inspiration for Fellini and his scriptwriters. Changing the title of the screenplay to La Dolce Vita, Fellini soon clashed with his producer on casting: the director insisted on the relatively unknown Mastroianni while De Laurentiis wanted Paul Newman as a hedge on his investment. Reaching an impasse, De Laurentiis sold the rights to publishing mogul Angelo Rizzoli. Shooting began on March 16, 1959 with Anita Ekberg climbing the stairs to the cupola of Saint Peter’s in a mammoth décor constructed at Cinecittà. The statue of Christ flown by helicopter over Rome to Saint Peter's Square was inspired by an actual media event on May 1, 1956, which Fellini had witnessed. The film wrapped August 15 on a deserted beach at Passo Oscuro with a cyclopic fish designed by Piero Gherardi.

La Dolce Vita broke all box office records. Despite scalpers selling tickets at 1000 lire,[27] crowds queued in line for hours to see an “immoral movie” before the censors banned it. At an exclusive Milan screening on February 5, 1960, one outraged patron spat on Fellini while others hurled insults. Denounced in parliament by right-wing conservatives, undersecretary Domenico Magrì of the Christian Democrats demanded tolerance for the film’s controversial themes.[28] The Vatican's official press organ, l'Osservatore Romano, lobbied for censorship while the Board of Roman Parish Priests and the Genealogical Board of Italian Nobility attacked the film. In one documented instance involving favourable reviews written by the Jesuits of San Fedele, defending La Dolce Vita had severe consequences.[29] In competition at Cannes alongside Antonioni’s L’Avventura, the film won the Palme d'Or awarded by presiding juror Georges Simenon. The Belgian writer was promptly “hissed at” by the disapproving festival crowd.[30]

Art films and dreams (1961-1969)

A major discovery for Fellini after his Italian neorealism period (1950-1959) was the work of Carl Jung. After meeting Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Ernst Bernhard in early 1960, he read Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Bernhard also recommended that Fellini consult the I Ching and keep a record of his dreams. What Fellini formerly accepted as "his extrasensory perceptions"[31] were now interpreted as psychic manifestations of the unconscious. Bernhard’s focus on Jungian depth psychology proved to be the single greatest influence on Fellini’s mature style and marked the turning point in his work from neorealism to filmmaking that was “primarily oneiric”.[32] As a consequence, Jung's seminal ideas on the anima and the animus, the role of archetypes and the collective unconscious directly influenced such films as (1963), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Satyricon (1969), Casanova (1976), and City of Women (1980).[33]

Exploiting La Dolce Vita’s success, financier Angelo Rizzoli set up Federiz in 1960, an independent film company, for Fellini and production manager Clemente Fracassi to discover and produce new talent. Despite the best intentions, their guarded editorial and business skills forced the company to close down soon after cancelling Pasolini’s project, Accattone (1961).

Condemned as a “public sinner”[34] for La Dolce Vita, Fellini responded with The Temptations of Doctor Antonio, a segment in the omnibus Boccaccio '70. His first colour film, it was the sole project green-lighted at Federiz. Infused with the surrealistic satire that characterized the young Fellini’s work at Marc’Aurelio, the film ridiculed a crusader against vice who goes insane trying to censor a billboard of Anita Ekberg espousing the virtues of milk.

In an October 1960 letter to his colleague Brunello Rondi, Fellini first outlined his film ideas about a man suffering creative block: "Well then - a guy (a writer? any kind of professional man? a theatrical producer?) has to interrupt the usual rhythm of his life for two weeks because of a not-too-serious disease. It’s a warning bell: something is blocking up his system."[35] Unclear about the script, its title, and his protagonist’s profession, he scouted locations throughout Italy “looking for the film”[36] in the hope of resolving his confusion. Flaiano suggested La bella confusione (literally A Fine Confusion) as the movie’s title. Under pressure from his producers, Fellini finally settled on , a self-referential title referring principally (but not exclusively)[37] to the number of films he had directed up to that time.

Giving the order to start production in spring 1962, Fellini signed deals with his producer Rizzoli, fixed dates, had sets constructed, cast Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, and Sandra Milo in lead roles, and did screen tests at the Scalera Studios in Rome. He hired cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo, among key personnel. But apart from naming his hero Guido Anselmi, he still couldn't decide what his character did for a living.[38] The crisis came to a head in April when, sitting in his Cinecittà office, he began a letter to Rizzoli confessing he had "lost his film" and had to abandon the project. Interrupted by the chief machinist requesting he celebrate the launch of , Fellini put aside the letter and went on the set. Raising a toast to the crew, he "felt overwhelmed by shame… I was in a no exit situation. I was a director who wanted to make a film he no longer remembers. And lo and behold, at that very moment everything fell into place. I got straight to the heart of the film. I would narrate everything that had been happening to me. I would make a film telling the story of a director who no longer knows what film he wanted to make".[39]

Shooting began on May 9, 1962. Perplexed by the seemingly chaotic, incessant improvisation on the set, Deena Boyer, the director’s American press officer at the time, asked for a rationale. Fellini told her that he hoped to convey the three levels “on which our minds live: the past, the present, and the conditional - the realm of fantasy”.[40] After shooting wrapped on October 14, Nino Rota composed various circus marches and fanfares that would later become signature tunes of the maestro’s cinema.[41] Nominated for four Oscars, won awards for best foreign language film and best costume design in black-and-white. In Hollywood for the ceremony, Fellini toured Disneyland with Walt Disney the day after.

Increasingly attracted to parapsychology, Fellini met the Turin magician Gustavo Rol in 1963. Rol, a former banker, introduced him to the world of Spiritism and séances. In 1964, Fellini experimented with LSD 25[42] under the supervision of Emilio Servadio, his psychoanalyst during production of La Strada.[43] For years reserved about what actually occurred that Sunday afternoon, he admitted in 1992 that

"objects and their functions no longer had any significance. All I perceived was perception itself, the hell of forms and figures devoid of human emotion and detached from the reality of my unreal environment. I was an instrument in a virtual world that constantly renewed its own meaningless image in a living world that was itself perceived outside of nature. And since the appearance of things was no longer definitive but limitless, this paradisiacal awareness freed me from the reality external to my self. The fire and the rose, as it were, became one."[44]

Honours (1970-1980)

Fellini received a lifetime achievement at the 27th Cannes Film Festival in 1974.

Amarcord, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age comedy, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1975.

The following year Fellini's Casanova won the Oscar for Best Costumes (Danilo Donati).

Late films and projects (1981-1990)

Organized by his publisher Diogenes Verlag in 1982, the first major exhibition of 63 drawings by Fellini was held in Paris, Brussels, and the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York.[45] A gifted caricaturist, much of the inspiration for his sketches was derived from his own dreams while the films-in-progress both originated from and stimulated drawings for characters, decor, costumes and set designs. Under the title, I disegni di Fellini (Fellini’s Designs), he published 350 drawings executed in pencil, watercolours, and felt pens.[46]

On September 6, 1985 Fellini was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 42nd Venice Film Festival. That same year, he became the first non-American to receive the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual award for cinematic achievement.

Long fascinated by Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Fellini accompanied the Peruvian author on a journey to the Yucatán to assess the feasibility of a film. After first meeting Castaneda in Rome in October 1984, Fellini drafted a treatment with Pinelli titled Viaggio a Tulun. Producer Alberto Grimaldi, prepared to buy film rights to all of Castaneda’s work, then paid for pre-production research taking Fellini and his entourage from Rome to Los Angeles and the jungles of Mexico in October 1985.[47] When Castaneda inexplicably disappeared and the project fell through, Fellini’s mystico-shamanic adventures were scripted with Pinelli and serialized in Corriere della Sera in May 1986. A barely veiled satirical interpretation of Castaneda's work,[48] Viaggio a Tulun was published in 1989 as a graphic novel with artwork by Milo Manara and as Trip to Tulum in America in 1990.

For Intervista, produced by Ibrahim Moussa and RAI Television, Fellini intercut memories of the first time he visited Cinecittà in 1939 with present-day footage of himself at work on a screen adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Amerika. A meditation on the nature of memory and film production, it won the special 40th Anniversary Prize at Cannes and the 15th Moscow Film Festival Grand Prize. In Brussels later that year, a panel of thirty professionals from eighteen European countries named Fellini the world’s best director and 8 1/2 the best European film of all time.[49]

In early 1989 Fellini began production on The Voice of the Moon, based on Ermanno Cavazzoni’s novel, Il poema des lunatici (The Lunatics’ Poem). A small town was built at Empire Studios on the via Pontina outside Rome. Starring Roberto Benigni as Ivo Salvini, a madcap poetic figure newly released from a mental institution, the character is a combination of La Strada's Gelsomina, Pinocchio, and Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi.[50] Fellini improvised as he filmed, using as a guide a rough treatment written with Pinelli.[51] Despite its modest critical and commercial success in Italy, and its warm reception by French critics, it failed to interest North American distributors.

Fellini won the Praemium Imperiale, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the visual arts, awarded by the Japan Art Association in 1990.[52] The award covers five disciplines: painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and theatre/film. Other winners include Akira Kurosawa, David Hockney, Balthus, Pina Bausch, and Maurice Béjart.

Final years (1991-1993)

In July 1991 and April 1992, Fellini worked in close collaboration with Canadian filmmaker Damian Pettigrew to establish "the longest and most detailed conversations ever recorded on film".[53] Described as the "Maestro's spiritual testament” by his biographer Tullio Kezich,[54] excerpts culled from the conversations later served as the basis of their feature documentary, Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (2002) and the book, I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon. Finding it increasingly difficult to secure financing for feature films, he developed a suite of television projects whose titles reflect their subjects: Attore, Napoli, L’Inferno, L’opera lirica, and L’America.

In April 1993, Fellini received his fifth Oscar for lifetime achievement "in recognition of his cinematic accomplishments that have thrilled and entertained audiences worldwide". On June 28, he underwent heart bypass surgery at the Cantonal Hospital in Zurich but suffered a stroke at the Grand Hotel in Rimini two months later. Partially paralyzed, he was first transferred to Ferrara for rehabilitation and then to the Polyclinico Umberto I in Rome to be near his wife, also hospitalized. He suffered a second stroke and fell into an irreversible coma. Fellini died in Rome on October 31 at the age of 73, a day after his fiftieth wedding anniversary. The memorial service was held in Studio 5 at Cinecittà attended by an estimated “70,000 people”.[55] Five months later on March 23, 1994, Giulietta Masina died of lung cancer.

Fellini, Masina and their son Pierfederico are buried in a bronze sepulchre sculpted by Arnaldo Pomodoro. Designed as a ship's prow, the tomb is located at the main entrance to the Cemetery of Rimini. The Federico Fellini Airport in Rimini is named in his honour.

Influence and legacy

Plaque to Fellini on Via Veneto, Rome

Personal and highly idiosyncratic visions of society, Fellini's films are a unique combination of memory, dreams, fantasy and desire. The adjectives "Fellinian" and "Felliniesque" are "synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque image in the cinema and in art in general".[4] La Dolce Vita contributed the term paparazzi to the language, derived from Paparazzo, the photographer friend of journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni).[56]

Contemporary filmmakers such as Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Tim Burton,[57] Terry Gilliam,[58] Emir Kusturica,[59] David Lynch,[60] Girish Kasaravalli, David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese, and Juraj Jakubisko have cited Fellini's influence on their work.

Polish director, Wojciech Has, whose two major films, The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) and The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (1973) are examples of modernist fantasies, has been compared to Fellini for the sheer "luxuriance of his images".[61]

I Vitelloni inspired European directors Juan Antonio Bardem, Marco Ferreri, and Lina Wertmuller and had an influence on Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), George Lucas's American Graffiti (1974), Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire (1985), and Barry Levinson's Diner (1987), among many others.[62] When the American magazine Cinema asked Stanley Kubrick in 1963 to name his favorite films, the film director listed I Vitelloni as number one in his Top 10 list.[63]

Nights of Cabiria was adapted as the Broadway musical Sweet Charity and the movie Sweet Charity (1969) by Bob Fosse starring Shirley MacLaine.

inspired among others: Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 1965), Alex in Wonderland (Paul Mazursky, 1970), Beware of a Holy Whore (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971), Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973), All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979), Stardust Memories (Woody Allen, 1980), Sogni d'oro (Nanni Moretti, 1981), Parad Planet (Vadim Abdrashitov, 1984), La Pelicula del rey (Carlos Sorin, 1986), Living in Oblivion (Tom DiCillo, 1995) , 8 1/2 Women (Peter Greenaway, 1999), Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993), along with the successful Broadway musical, Nine (Maury Yeston and Mario Fratti, 1982).[64] Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), a Spanish novel by Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi, features a dream sequence with Fellini that was inspired by .

City of Women was adapted for the Berlin stage by Frank Castorf in 1992.

Fellini’s work is referenced on the albums Fellini Days (2001) by Fish and Funplex (2008) by the the B-52's with the song Juliet of the Spirits, and in the opening traffic jam of the music video Everybody Hurts by R.E.M..[65] It influenced two American TV shows, Northern Exposure and Third Rock from the Sun.[66]

In October 2009, the Jeu de Paume in Paris opened an exhibit devoted to Fellini, running through to January 2010. The exhibition included Fellini ephemera, television interviews, behind-the-scenes photographs, and excerpts from La dolce vita and . It also featured the Book of Dreams based on 30 years of illustrations and notes by Fellini.[67]


Selected awards and nominations

  • I clowns (1970)
    • National Board of Review citation for Best Foreign Language Film
  • The Voice of the Moon (1990)
    • David di Donatello Awards for Best Actor, Best Production Design, and Best Editing


  • 1993
    • Oscar for Lifetime Achievement


Major screenplay contributions

Television commercials

  • TV commercial for Campari Soda (1984)
  • TV commercial for Barilla pasta (1984)
  • Three TV commercials for Banca di Roma (1992)

Written and directed

See also



  1. ^ Il Quirinale
  2. ^ Burke and Waller, 12
  3. ^ Alpert, 16
  4. ^ a b Bondanella, The Films of Federico Fellini, 7
  5. ^ Burke and Waller, 5-13
  6. ^ Fellini interview in Panorama 18 (14 January 1980). Screenwriters Tullio Pinelli and Bernardino Zapponi, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno and set designer Dante Ferretti also reported that Fellini imagined many of his “memories”. Cf. Bernardino Zapponi's memoir, Il mio Fellini and Fellini's own insistence on having created his cinematic autobiography in I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon, 32
  7. ^ Alpert, 33
  8. ^ Kezich, 31
  9. ^ Bondanella, The Films of Federico Fellini, 8
  10. ^ Kezich, 55
  11. ^ Alpert, 42
  12. ^ Kezich, 35
  13. ^ Kezich, 46-48
  14. ^ Kezich, 70
  15. ^ Kezich, 71
  16. ^ Kezich, 157. Cf. filmed interview with Luigi 'Titta' Benzi in Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (2003).
  17. ^ Kezich, 78
  18. ^ Kezich, 404
  19. ^ Kezich, 114
  20. ^ Kezich, 128
  21. ^ a b Kezich, 158
  22. ^ Kezich, 167
  23. ^ Kezich, 168-69
  24. ^ Kezich, 177
  25. ^ Kezich, 189
  26. ^ Alpert, 122
  27. ^ Kezich, 208
  28. ^ Kezich, 209
  29. ^ Kezich, 210
  30. ^ Alpert, 145
  31. ^ Kezich, 224
  32. ^ Kezich, 227
  33. ^ Bondanella, Cinema of Federico Fellini, 151-54
  34. ^ Kezich, 212
  35. ^ Affron, 227
  36. ^ Alpert, 159
  37. ^ Kezich, 234 and Affron, 3-4
  38. ^ Alpert, 160
  39. ^ Fellini, Comments on Film, 161-62
  40. ^ Alpert, 170
  41. ^ Kezich, 245
  42. ^ A synthetic derivative “fashioned to produce the same effects as the hallucinogenic mushrooms used by Mexican tribes”. Kezich, 255
  43. ^ Kezich, 255
  44. ^ Fellini and Pettigrew, 91
  45. ^ Kezich, 413. Also cf. The Warsaw Voice
  46. ^ Fellini, I disegni di Fellini (Roma: Editori Laterza), 1993. The drawings are edited and analysed by Pier Marco De Santi. For comparing Fellini's graphic work with those of Sergei Eisenstein, consult S.M. Eisenstein, Dessins secrets (Paris: Seuil), 1999.
  47. ^ Kezich, 360-61
  48. ^ Kezich, 362
  49. ^ Burke and Waller, xvi
  50. ^ Bondanella, Cinema of Federico Fellini, 330
  51. ^ Kezich, 383
  52. ^ Kezich, 387
  53. ^ Peter Bondanella, Review of Fellini: I'm a Born Liar in Cineaste Magazine (September 22, 2003), 32
  54. ^ Kezich, "Forward" in I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon, 5. Also cf. Kezich, 388
  55. ^ Kezich, 416
  56. ^ Ennio Flaiano, the film's co-screenwriter and creator of Paparazzo, explained that he took the name from Signor Paparazzo, a character in George Gissing's novel By the Ionian Sea (1901). Bondanella, The Cinema of Federico Fellini, 136
  57. ^ Cf. Tim Burton Collective Accessed Sept 17 2008
  58. ^ Cf. Gilliam at Senses of Cinema Accessed Sept 17 2008
  59. ^ Cf. Kusturica Interview at BNET Accessed Sept 17 2008
  60. ^ Cf. City of Absurdity Quote Collection Accessed Sept 17 2008
  61. ^ Gilbert Guez, Review of The Saragossa Manuscript in Le Figaro (September, 1966), 23
  62. ^ Kezich, 137
  63. ^ Ciment, Michel. "Kubrick: Biographical Notes" Accessed Dec 23 2009
  64. ^ Numerous sources include Affron, Alpert, Bondanella, Kezich, Miller et al.
  65. ^ Miller, 7
  66. ^ Burke and Waller, xv
  67. ^ Baker, Tamzin. "Federico Fellini." Modern Painters, November 2009.


Primary sources

  • Fellini, Federico (1988). Comments on Film. Ed. Giovanni Grazzini. Trans. Joseph Henry. Fresno: The Press of California State University at Fresno.
  • — (1993). I disegni di Fellini. Ed. Pier Marco De Santi. Roma: Editori Laterza.
  • — and Damian Pettigrew (2003). I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0847831353
  • — and Tullio Pinelli. Trip to Tulum. Trans. Stefano Gaudiano and Elizabeth Bell. New York: Catalan Communications.

Secondary sources

  • Alpert, Hollis (1988). Fellini: A Life. New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1557780005
  • Bondanella, Peter (1992). The Cinema of Federico Fellini. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00875-2
  • — (2002). The Films of Federico Fellini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Burke, Frank, and M. R. Waller (2003). Federico Fellini: Contemporary Perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802076475
  • Kezich, Tullio (2006). Federico Fellini: His Life and Work. New York: Faber and Faber, 2006. ISBN 9780571211685
  • Miller, D. A. (2008). 8 1/2. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Further reading


  • Betti, Liliana (1979). Fellini: An Intimate Portrait. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
  • Bondanella, Peter (ed.)(1978). Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Fellini, Federico (2008). Fellini's Book of Dreams. New York: Rizzoli.
  • Panicelli, Ida, and Antonella Soldaini (ed.)(1995). Fellini: Costumes and Fashion. Milan: Edizioni Charta. ISBN 8886158823
  • Rohdie, Sam (2002). Fellini Lexicon. London: BFI Publishing.
  • Tornabuoni, Lietta (1995). Federico Fellini. Preface Martin Scorsese. New York: Rizzoli.
  • Walter, Eugene (2002). Milking the Moon: A Southerner's Story of Life on This Planet. Ed. Katherine Clark. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80965-2

Documentaries on Fellini

  • Ciao Federico (1969). Dir. Gideon Bachmann. (60')
  • Federico Fellini - un autoritratto ritrovato (2000). Dir. Paquito Del Bosco. (RAI TV, 68')
  • Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (2002). Dir. Damian Pettigrew. Feature documentary. (ARTE, Eurimages, Scottish Screen, 102').

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.

Federico Fellini (20 January 192031 October 1993) was a highly esteemed and influential Italian film director. Fellini's films typically combine memory, dreams, and fantasy. Among the most famous of his films are La Strada, La Dolce Vita, , and Amarcord.


  • All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.
    • On the autobiographical nature of his films, in The Atlantic (December 1965)]
  • Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me.
    • On the autobiographical nature of his films, in The Atlantic (December 1965)
  • Cinema is an old whore, like circus and variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure. Besides, you can’t teach old fleas new dogs.
    • As quoted in in The Atlantic (December 1965)
  • Talking about dreams is like talking about movies, since the cinema uses the language of dreams; years can pass in a second and you can hop from one place to another. It’s a language made of image. And in the real cinema, every object and every light means something, as in a dream.
    • As quoted in Rolling Stone no. 421 (1984)
  • What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one.... It’s this in-between that I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one — which is really the realm of the artist.
    • "Every Time We Say Goodbye" in Sight and Sound [London] ( June 1991)
  • There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.
    • Fellini on Fellini (1976) edited by Anna Keel and Christian Strich; translated by Isabel Quigly.
I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all.

I'm a Born Liar (2003)

I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon (2003) Edited by Damian Pettigrew ISBN 0306805200
  • I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there's one thing that's dangerous for an artist, it's precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and the rest of it.
    • "Artistic Freedom"
  • I discovered that what's really important for a creator isn't what we vaguely define as inspiration or even what it is we want to say, recall, regret, or rebel against. No, what's important is the way we say it. Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It's not what we say but how we say it that matters.
    • "Craftsmanship"
  • A created thing is never invented and it is never true: it is always and ever itself.
    • "Creation"
  • Everyone knows that time is Death, that Death hides in clocks. Imposing another time powered by the Clock of the Imagination, however, can refuse his law. Here, freed of the Grim Reaper's scythe, we learn that pain is knowledge and all knowledge pain.
  • The public has lost the habit of movie-going because the cinema no longer possesses the charm, the hypnotic charisma, the authority it once commanded. The image it once held for us all — that of a dream we dreamt with our eyes open — has disappeared. Is it still possible that one thousand people might group together in the dark and experience the dream that a single individual has directed?
    • "Decline of Cinema"
  • Experience is what you get while looking for something else.
    • "Experience"
  • It's easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman.
    • "Fidelity"
  • No critic writing about a film could say more than the film itself, although they do their best to make us think the opposite.
    • "Film Critics"
  • Nietzsche claimed that his genius was in his nostrils and I think that is a very excellent place for it to be.
    • "Genius"
  • God may not play dice but he enjoys a good round of Trivial Pursuit every now and again.
  • Hype is the awkward and desperate attempt to convince journalists that what you've made is worth the misery of having to review it.
    • "Hype"
  • If I'm a cruel satirist at least I'm not a hyprocrite: I never judge what other people do. Neither a politician nor a priest, I never censor what others do. Neither a philospher nor a psychiatrist, I never bother trying to analyze or resolve my fears and neuroses.
    • "Hypocrisy"
  • Money is everywhere but so is poetry. What we lack are the poets.
    • "Poets"
  • A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provided they come close together.
    • "Recipe for a Good Film"
  • The young watch television twenty-four hours a day, they don't read and they rarely listen. This incessant bombardment of images has developed a hypertrophied eye condition that's turning them into a race of mutants. They should pass a law for a total reeducation of the young, making children visit the Galleria Borghese on a daily basis.
    • "Younger Generation"
  • I think television has betrayed the meaning of democratic speech, adding visual chaos to the confusion of voices. What role does silence have in all this noise?

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Federico Fellini (born in Rimini, January 20, 1920, died in Rome, October 31, 1993[1]) was a famous Italian movie-maker and director. Fellini's movies combine memory, dream, and fantasy.

The first movie Fellini directed was Lo Sceicco Bianco (1951), with Alberto Sordi, written by Michelangelo Antonioni and Ennio Flaiano. In making this movie Fellini met Nino Rota, the musician that would follow him for the successful rest of his career.

Fellini's wife, actress Giulietta Masina (married in 1943) was often in his movies. Other actors Fellini often worked with include Marcello Mastroianni, Alberto Sordi, and Anita Ekberg.

Apart from making movies he also wrote scripts for radio shows, for movies (mainly for Rossellini) and wrote comic gags for well known actors like Aldo Fabrizi.

Fellini also produced several drawings (mostly pencil on paper), often humoristic portraits. His first success was in drawing advertising pictures for movies.

During Fascism an Avanguardista, his first writings were for Alleanza Cinematografica Italiana (ACI), a prodution company of Vittorio Mussolini, son of Benito, who introduced him to Roberto Rossellini.

In 1944, when Fascism was over, he opened a shop in Rome in which he sold these drawings. The shop was named (in English) "The Funny Face Shop", and contained works from Fellini and De Seta, Verdini, Camerini, Scarpelli, Majorana, Guasta, Giobbe, Attalo, Migneco (all writers, directors or otherwise intellectuals working for Italian cinema). In the same year started his contribution to Rossellini's Roma Città Aperta, with Aldo Fabrizi.
Fellini took also part in writing another of Rossellini's movies: Paisà. He wrote also for other directors as Alberto Lattuada, Pietro Germi and Luigi Comencini.

In 1945, he had a son who survived for only 2 weeks; it was the only son of Fellini and Giulietta Masina. In 1948, Fellini acted in Rossellini's Il Miracolo. In 1993, he received an Academy Award (Oscar) for his lifetime achievement.


  • Luci del varietà (1950)
  • Lo Sceicco Bianco (1951)
  • I Vitelloni (1953)
  • La Strada (1954) Oscar (best foreign movie)
  • Le Notti di Cabiria (1957) Oscar (best foreign movie)
  • La Dolce Vita (1960) Oscar (best costumes)
  • 8 1/2 (1963) 2 Oscars (best foreign movie, best costumes)
  • Giulietta degli Spiriti (1965)
  • Satyricon (1969)
  • I Clowns (1970)
  • Roma (1972)
  • Amarcord (1973) Oscar (best foreign movie)
  • Casanova (1976)
  • Prova d'Orchestra (1979)
  • La Citta' delle Donne (1980)
  • E la nave va (1983)
  • Ginger and Fred (1986)
  • Intervista (1987)


rue:Федеріко Фелліні

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