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Fellini: A Director's Notebook. The cinema of the childhood, watching a historical epic about the Roman Empire. Fellini: A Director's Notebook. A subway trip becomes a journey back in time. Fellini: A Director's Notebook. The audition. Fellini: A Director's Notebook. Federico Fellini to the left. The images are my screenshots from YouTube. Block-notes di un regista. Director: Federico Fellini. Year: 1969. Country: USA. Scen.: Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi, dialoghi inglesi Eugene Walter. F.: Pasqualino De Santis. M.: Ruggero Mastroianni. Mus.: Nino Rota. Int.: Federico Fellini, Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni, David Maumsell, Cesarino, Lina Alberti, Caterina Boratto, Marina Boratto, Bernardino Zapponi, Alvaro Vitali. Prod.: Peter Goldfarb per National Broadcasting Company (NBC). DCP. D.: 52’. Col. PC: NBC Production International Corporation (Rome). With the cooperation of Producers International Corp. NBC Educational Enterprises presents. NBC Experiment in Television [television series]. Shot on 16 mm. Copy from Cineteca Bologna. by courtesy of Compagnia Leone Cinematografica. Documents and Documentaries. Introduce the producer Peter Goldfarb, hosted by Gian Luca Farinelli. The copy itself is in English and has English subtitles when Italian is spoken. There were also e-subtitles in English in the screening. Viewed at Auditorium - DAMSLab, Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato, 28 June 2019. Roberto Chiesi (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "In 1966, Federico Fellini experienced in real life the distressing reality he had imagined three years before in 8½: devastated by a psychological and creative crisis, the director backed out of making his new film, Il viaggio di G. Mastorna, even though the sets were already in place and the contracts signed." "Two years later, when he had already presented the Toby Dammit segment and was getting ready for the great enterprise of Satyricon, he was invited by the American television company NBC for an interview, which was to be part of a programme about his work. The invitation sparked a new film by Fellini, A Director’s Notebook, the first film where ‘The Magician’ shows, with digressive frivolity, the circus of film as it is being made, a behind-the-scenes movie that is actually staged, simulating the spontaneity of documentary filmmaking." "It starts on the abandoned set of the film he never made, where Fellini wanders around scenery and costumes, revealing his (ephemeral) fondness for young hippies and shooting some scenes of Mastorna, almost like an exorcism. Combinations of the past and present take over with the reconstruction of the smoky and wild cinemas of the 1920s – where a beautiful Italian silent film (by Fellini himself) is being screened – and then continues with excerpts from mediums and phony historians, a re-invented audition of Mastroianni for Mastorna, another (brilliantly fake) audition at the slaughterhouse in Rome for Satyricon, a parade of extras and background artists from which the director chooses the most suitable faces." "The film also surprisingly includes an excerpt of a sequence from Nights of Cabiria, which was cut by De Laurentiis due to pressure from the Vatican. These notes in film form have the charm of a confession told as a story, in which a lie, as usual, is the key to the truth. The only Fellini film made exclusively for television, it was not broadcast in Italy by RAI until 1972 and was unjustifiably cut by a quarter of an hour. The full version will be presented at Il Cinema Ritrovato." Roberto Chiesi AA: I saw for the first time Fellini: A Director's Notebook which has never been screened or telecast in Finland. Even we have not screened it in our Federico Fellini retrospectives. It was not the first of Fellini's meta-films (those would be Otto e mezzo and Toby Dammit), but it was his first pseudo-documentary. He introduces his passion for auditions. He fakes candid meetings with movie stars like Mastroianni. He pretends to film in order to produce a documentary of the filming. In our age of dvd / blu-ray bonus features A Director's Notebook seems like a premature parody of the phenomenon. Fellini honed this approach to mastery in his next film I clowns . A Director's Notebook also already includes sketches for Roma and prefigures aspects of his films Prova d'orchestra , La città delle donne , Ginger e Fred and Intervista . Fellini had been preceded by Pasolini in his appunti series of films that he had not made in the way he had planned or not at all. The sketchbook can turn out to have permanent value. Here we have traces of Fellini's unmade Mastorna film, as well as sketches for Satyricon, his current big movie project, but also an outtake, "the man with the sack" from Le notti di Cabiria, arguably his masterpiece. During the Cabiria sequence we hear Nino Rota's haunting flute theme, transcendent, as if an expression of something beyond pain. By the 1960s Fellini had entered his spectacle period. He had also embraced the concept that all his films are entries in one single big work-in-progress. Ingmar Bergman started to avoid making "Bergman films", although he could not help himself. Fellini could not help himself either, and he kept making "Fellini films" self-consciously. With meta-strategies and pseudo-documentary dimensions he strived to maintain a healthy distance to his own self-indulgence. In the context of the Fellini oeuvre A Director's Notebook is minor, but the significance of the new approach was major. Main sources of pleasure in A Director's Notebook are a self-parodical aspect and a sense that the film must have been a terrible disappointment for NBC who may have expected a new hip and cool work from Fellini, the director of La dolce vita, featuring Mastroianni, for American mainstream network television. The screening was introduced by Fellini's producer Peter Goldfarb who gave a demonstration of Fellini's famous direction of dialogue : – 1–2–3. – 4–5–6? – 7–8–9–10! Actual dialogue was spoken only in the dialogue replacement phase. Goldfarb also read aloud a long letter by Fellini in English, never published. The text is essential Fellini, and I look forward to it being published. Among other things, Fellini there explains his belief that screen tests are more fascinating than the film itself. (This is not the only affinity between Fellini and Warhol). The film is a vision of alienation and desolation, of characters in search of a fiction, in a shadow world between dream and reality. In one of the finest moments it becomes a meditation, a collage of memories like Amarcord, with fake silent film inserts directed by Fellini for this work (parodying old Italian epics of Imperial Rome, run in overspeed). We board the subway and our journey becomes a journey in time. It takes us to the catacombs, the seven civilizations of the underground city like in Fellini's Roma. Ancient faces and figures emerge. In his screen tests Fellini auditions modern Romans that seem to evoke ancient ones. The people in the auditions are ridiculous and profound, and it is impossible tell one from the other. "I am very fond of these characters", confesses Fellini. "They say they need me. I need them more". Nino Rota's score is haunting, partly familiar, partly unfamiliar, often probably unique. I'd love to see a list detailing the motifs. A quiet guitar, the sound of the cicada, and a subdued flute theme seem to evoke a sense of loss, perhaps a danger of losing oneself. Amidst the chaos of the Cinecittà extravaganzas a psychic battle is going on. In this year's Il Cinema Ritrovato my favourite composers were Armas Järnefelt (Song of the Scarlet Flower) and Nino Rota (Napoli milionaria and Fellini A Director's Notebook). The visual quality of the presentation bordered on the unwatchable. It was far below a regular home video standard. Fellini A Director's Notebook is easily accessible online in 52 min versions, and it has also been published by The Criterion Collection as a Immagine Ritrovata transfer as a bonus film for Otto e mezzo, but I do not know about the technical quality of these releases. Typically for Fellini, there are different cuts in circulation. FONDAZIONE FEDERICO FELLINI: FELLINI: A DIRECTOR'S NOTEBOOK It is a fake documentary following Fellini along the remains of Il viaggio di G. Mastorna’s set and then on his inspections to find relics of ancient times and during Satyricon auditions... Crew Director: Federico Fellini Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi Cinematography: Pasquale De Santis Music: Nino Rota Film editing: Ruggero Mastroianni Assistant editor: Adriana Olasio Producer: Peter Goldfarb General manager: Lamberto Pippia Script supervisor: Norma Giacchero First assistant director: Maurizio Mein, Liliana Betti Series unit manager: Joseph Nash Dialogue director: Christopher Cruise English dialogues: Eugène Walter Cast Federico Fellini Giulietta Masina Marcello Mastroianni Caterina Boratto Marina Boratto David Maumsell prof. Genius Cesarino Bernardino Zapponi Lina Alberti Peculiarites Fellini always liked small and unimportant things. That short film had to become a creative piece of evidence of the passage from “Mastorna” to the following “Satyricon”. It was meant as a series of notes, small talk, notes, just a "cacatina" (niece piece of shit), as Federico called it. The screenplay was promptly written. The beginning of the film would show the impressive remains of “Mastorna”’s production design, as if they were coming from a shipwreck. They were, in fact, real Roman remains. A group of stray hippies lived where. We made this up, in oder to emphasize a crazy atmosphere; “Mastorna” was their city, "which was named Dementia". So I wrote a ‘fake’ poem, attributed to one of those fake tramps (some authors or some Cinémathéques went on periodically asking me for the original text or the name of the author of those verses for years, and I had to tell them it was a ‘fake within a fake’). Bernardino Zapponi, Il mio Fellini, Marsilio, Venice, 1995, pp. 26-27 Reviews Lino Miccichè There are indeed some sequences in Fellini’s Notebook that are exceptionally good, as in the wreckage of buildings and spaceship in “Mastorna”, or when seeking faces of the ancient world among strongly-built common people for “Satyricon”, or else during a night visit to the Coliseum, mysteriously rich in vice and loneliness, or the day the director is receiving acquaintances and newly met people in his office, who would like to perform as background actors in his next movie. Here Fellini does not aim at being objective in describing himself, but is rather showing his own fantastic world as if it were objective. Thus we discover [...] that the sequence of exasperated surreal visions about sex and loneliness, humor and tenderness, [...] it is actually the only way Fellini can look at reality. It is an urgent need to distort reality, distressingly. “Avanti!”, 7 May 1969 COLIN MARSHALL (OPEN CULTURE website): Today, if you want an introduction to a filmmaker like Federico Fellini, you'll most likely just look him up on Wikipedia. In 1969, you wouldn't have had quite so convenient an option, though were you an NBC-watching American, you might have caught a broadcast of Fellini: A Director's Notebook. Directed by Fellini himself at the behest of NBC producer Peter Goldfarb, the fifty-minute documentary (now added to our collection of 500 Free Movies Online) follows the Italian auteur as he peripatetically seeks out inspiration for his current and future projects. Among these, we hear about Satyricon, one of his immortal works, and about The Voyage of G. Mastoma, which stalled before it even reached mortality. Consorting with hippies in a field, taking a spirit medium down into the "catacombs" of the Rome Metro, dropping in on favorite actor/counterpart Marcello Mastroianni, and receiving a stream of visiting eccentrics in his office, Fellini narrates his own thoughts about his directorial process. It seems to come down to searching for the right atmospheres — the obscure, the foreign, the desperate, the bizarre — and taking them in. Fellini: A Director's Notebook provides what Fellini called a "semihumorous introduction" to the director, his work, and the environment of frowning absurdism that seemed to encircle him wherever he went. But with its frequent language-shifting, its often dark and vaguely troubling imagery, its air of simultaneous asexuality and indiscriminate louchness, and its obviously deliberate craft, the film would seem to fall into the territory between forms. But if it feels too elaborate, artificial, and studded with half-glimpsed grotesques to count as a straightforward portrait of an artist, Fellini's films set themselves apart to this day with their thorough possession of those same qualities. Cultural history has not recorded in much detail how the average American home viewer of 1969 handled this plunge into the viscous essence of Fellini. But I'll bet every single one who enjoyed it immediately marked their calendars, if surreptitiously, to go check out the man's interpretation of Petronius. via @coudal Related content: Fellini’s Fantastic TV Commercials Fellini + Abrams = Super 8½ Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall. by Colin Marshall TIME OUT ONLINE (n.c.) Fellini revisits the weatherworn sets of his abandoned Il Viaggio di G Mastorna; scours Rome while preparing Satyricon looking for continuities (a slaughterhouse, hookers on the Appian Way) between Now and Then; auditions assorted oddballs to play gladiators, senators and whatnot. He drops in on a Mastroianni beset by fans and journalists, while Giulietta Masina introduces a deleted sequence from Notti di Cabiria. And much more. This is hardly a documentary since clearly it's all scripted and staged, down to the way Fellini covers his bald patch when the camera gets behind him. Disinterested viewers should find it all haphazardly diverting; for Fellini-philes it's ambrosia. Made for NBC, which entails Fellini having to nag everyone please to talk in English. RICHARD METZGER (DANGEROUS MINDS) 21 Oct 2013 The great Italian director Federico Fellini was in the midst of production on Satyricon—his self-described “sci-fi” film that looked back at the pre-Christian Romans as if they were Martians—when he shot Fellini: A Director’s Notebook, a light-hearted quasi-documentary “introducing” himself to Americans for NBC. It’s a testament to the times that such a thing could have been broadcast on an American network television. And it’s “a Fellini” in every way, so the project was, shall we say, already quite extraordinary to begin with. That it burst into millions of American homes for one night in 1969, as easily accessed as running water… well, wow. That takes it to a whole other level. Fellini: A Director’s Notebook features his wife Giulietta Masina, actress Caterina Boratto, composer Nino Rota and Marcello Mastroianni (we even get a look at Mastroianni’s home). We see him working on the set. There are also appearances by Genius the Medium, some very Fellini-esque hippies and a variety of whimsical and eccentric characters who come into the director’s office wanting to audition for him. Fellini descends into the subways, goes to a slaughterhouse and visits the Appian Way, all the while discussing his creative search for atmosphere and the bizarre. As with all of Fellini’s films, this boasts some of the most extraordinary faces—the faces, as he says of “real Romans”—that you’ll ever see. The master’s eye was so attuned to the smallest detail in his films, but it’s Fellini’s faces that are unique in all of cinema. Every face in this film is a work of art.