Friday, September 13, 2013

TIFF 2013: How strange to be called Federico: Scola narrates Fellini

Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico (How strange to be called Federico: Scola narrates Fellini) (Italy, 2013) directed by Ettore Scola, Jackman Hall, 9.30a

Many decades before Felliniesque became an adjective, Italian director Ettore Scola once worked at Marc'Aurelio, a satiric newspaper in the 1940s where Fellini joyfully toiled, under the watchful eyes of the Fascist government, before writing scripts for vaudeville and then movies - La strada, La Dolce Vita8 1/2, Juliet of the Spirits and Amarcord - among other gems. 

This autumn to marks the 20th anniversary of Fellini's death and Scola, a longtime friend recreates the life of the young Fellini, combining news footage, archival film footage, excerpts from Fellini's films and personal anecdotes, shot primarily in the renowned Cinecittà's  Studio 5. 

Scola re-creates a series of backdrops from their shared past - the offices of Marc’ Aurelio, the Cinquecento Square, the bar where the pair would meet and talk through the night, the black Lincoln that Fellini drove through Rome when he struggled with bouts of insomnia. Young actors play the roles of Fellini, Scola and Fellini's favourite leading man/alter ego Marcello Mastroianni. The men share philosophies, cruise, admire the streetwalkers of Rome, drink, fantasize ...

In a clever last scene, Scola weaves archival footage of Fellini's funeral which was held in  the Cinecittà's  Studio with a final image of an imagined sure-footed sly escape by the hatted, red-scarfed Fellini escaping two military officers to join an abandoned carnival set where he solemnly rides a kiddy car on a merry-go-round. Cue the rousing montage of all the weird, surreal and beautiful circus, parade and carnival images of his films ...

It caused a lump in my throat to see all those scenes together. And made me want to see his films all over again. 

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