The year 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Federico Fellini, one of Italy’s, if not the world’s, most celebrated filmmakers. The Italian Contemporary Film Festival based in Toronto marked the occasion by choosing Fellinopolis, Silvia Giulietti’s documentary about the work of the legendary director, as the opening film of its 2020 edition. The film also received the award for Best Documentary at ICFF 2020.
Click here to see the trailer.
The documentary juxtaposes never-before-seen material of the maestro at work with testimonies by some of Fellini’s most devoted coworkers and friends, among these, Lina Wertmüller, Nicola Piovani, Dante Ferretti, Maurizio Millenotti, Ferruccio Castronuovo and Norma Giacchero. In doing so, the film reveals some of Fellini’s heretofore unknown and, at times, contradictory character traits, thereby uncovering the man behind the genius.
The award recognized the way in which Silvia Giulietti, who is also the film’s producer, combined the behind-the-scenes footage of Fellini at work with the contemporary testimonies, thus creating a compelling narrative that binds past and present in an exquisite and unique creation.
The origins of Fellinopolis date to the late 1970s and 1980s, when Fellini personally asked his loyal friend and colleague, Ferruccio Castronuovo, to film behind the scenes of his features. These so-called “specials” were meant as trailers for Fellini’s films, but were never actually used. They ended up in storage in Rome’s Cineteca Nazionale for over 40 years.
Quietly following Fellini around the sets, Castronuovo filmed the maestro in some his most renowned and iconic works: Casanova, The City of Women, And the Ship Sails On, and Ginger and Fred. Climbing on poles, hiding behind curtains and essentially making himself invisible, as instructed by the director himself, Castronuovo created a visual diary of Fellini’s sets, uncovering the auteur with his ironic, fun, creative, and at times overbearing personality.
Federico Fellini was indeed an extraordinary character, not just for his one-of-a-kind directing and storytelling techniques, but for his lifestyle as well. As Fellini’s colleagues emphasized in their tributes, what made the Italian maestro and his films so unique and inimitable wasn’t just their uncharacteristic storylines and odd characters, but also the new worlds, new cities, new “fellinopolis” that the great director created in his movies.
During her interview with the ICFF, Silvia Giulietti reflected on Fellini’s genius. “I don’t know whether there will ever be another Fellini, someone capable of replicating his stories and techniques… or that someone will achieve what Fellini did in his time and win all those Academy Awards.”
With Fellinopolis, audiences get a glimpse into Fellini’s everyday life on the set, experiencing what it was like to stand beside the director while he was creating his films – his larger-than-life personality, his creativity, and his irreverent style. Fellinopolis is the definitive work (so far) of how Federico Fellini not only influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, but created a timeless collection of masterpieces which continues to inspire directors and writers worldwide.