Saturday, August 21, 2010

More from Italy: Federico Fellini

The Italian film director Federico Fellini was born in the seaside village of Rimini on January 20, 1920. He was the oldest of three children, and a keen observer of the characters of his small town upbringing. He left for Rome in 1938 and enrolled in university to avoid being drafted into the service. He left school and in the years prior to the outbreak of World War II he made his living as a cartoonist. He also began writing and acting in sketch comedy productions and radio programs with his good friend Aldo Fabrizi. During this time period he met his wife, the actress Giuletta Masina who became a great influence on his work. Another famous Italian director, Roberto Rossellini, wished to cast Fellinis' friend Fabrizi in one of his films and Fellini arranged their meeting. Through that contact he started work as an assistant scriptwriter and was given access to the inner workings of how films are created and edited, thus beginning his new career as a film director.
Federico Fellini; center, actor Leopoldo Trieste; right, screenwriter Tullio Pinelli, around the time of Lo sceicco bianco
His career in cinema spanned five decades and he gained much critical acclaim. He won many awards including four Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category. His films offer a combination of themes including memory, dreams, fantasy and desire. They are often intimate looks at people at their most bizarre and the term "Felliniesque" is used when depicting an ordinary scene that has been altered by the addition of hallucinatory imagery. Many current filmmakers such as Woody Allen, David Lynch, Pedro Almodovar and Terry Gilliam have claimed to have been influenced in their work by Fellini.
Federico Fellini died of a heart attack the day after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with Giuletta on 31 October 1993 in Rome.

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