Italian film director Federico Fellini was one of the most celebrated and distinctive filmmakers of the period after World War II. Known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. His films have ranked, in polls such as Cahiers du cinéma and Sight & Sound, as some of the greatest films of all time. Sight & Sound lists his 1963 film 8½ as the 10th-greatest film of all time.
Influenced early in his career by the Neorealist movement, he developed his own distinctive methods that superimposed dreamlike or hallucinatory imagery upon ordinary situations. He added vastly to the vocabulary of the cinema and pioneered a personal style of filmmaking now integral to its practice.
Besides La Dolce Vita and 8½, his other well-known films include La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, Juliet of the Spirits, Satyricon, Amarcord and Fellini’s Casanova.
Federico Fellini was born in Rimini on 20 January 1920, son of Ida Barbiani, of Roman origin, and Urbano, a travelling salesman, originally of Gambettola. Whilst still in high school, the future director started making a name for himself as a caricaturist: to promote films, the manager of the Fulgor cinema, hired him to draw portraits of the stars.
From the beginning of 1938 he started collaborating with “Domenica del Corriere”, which published several of his cartoons, and with the weekly comic publication from Florence “420”. In January 1939 he moved to Rome with the excuse of studying law and joined the editorial staff of “Marc’Aurelio”, a widely-read satirical magazine, where he became popular through hundreds of pieces signed as Federico.
He moved in variety circles, writing monologues for the comedian Aldo Fabrizi and collaborated with variety programs on the radio where he met a young actress, Giulietta Masina (1921-1994), that he married on 30 October 1943. They had just one son, who died one month after he was born. He soon made a name for himself as a scriptwriter by contributing to the scripts of Fabrizi’s films. He worked on Roma città aperta and soon afterwards on Paisà, striking a fruitful friendship with Roberto Rossellini. He formed a partnership with the playwright Tullio Pinelli, with whom he continued to work throughout his life. Their partnership became highly in demand to work with various directors such as Pietro Germi and Alberto Lattuada. The latter wanted Fellini to co-direct Luci del varietà (1950), a self-produced enterprise that left both of them full of debts.
Fellini’s solo directorial debut, Lo sceicco bianco (1952), was also a failure, but success finally arrived with I vitelloni (1953), which won the Silver Lion in Venice and which also launched Alberto Sordi’s career. This was followed by La strada (1954), with Giulietta which won an Oscar, the first of a series of films that assured Fellini’s place amongst the great filmmakers. Some of the most famous films are Le notti di Cabiria (1957, another Oscar), La dolce vita (1960, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival), 8½ (1963, Oscar), Fellini Satyricon (’69), Fellini Roma (1972), Amarcord (1973, Oscar), Il Casanova (1976), Prova d’orchestra (1979), Ginger e Fred (1985), Intervista (1987, 40th Anniversary Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prize at the Moscow Film Festival), La voce della luna (1990). Fellini’s career was peppered with homages and awards, including the Legion of Honour (1984) and the Praemium Imperiale awarded by the imperial family of Japan (1990).
In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d’Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. Fellini is one of the foreign directors has won the most Oscars, five. In 1993,the last of which a lifetime achievement award in LA, a few months before his death on 31 October, in Rome.