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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 D on't be fooled by the magnificence of the Rex transatlantic, that enormous , s pell- binding apparition that sails along the Riviera Romagnola, leaving everyone speechless. This fabulous colossus of the s eas glides , mas s ive and breathtaking, filling the eyes, the dreams and the hopes of simple people who gathered at night time on small boats to see it passing by with its load of wonders. This was the first scene in Italian cinema that required the use of proper special effects to be filmed, because the ship never really used the Adriatic as a trading route, exception made for that last faithful trip towards Trieste, made in the useless attempt to save it from World War Two bombings. A large, wooden ship was specially made, then led through enormous plastic sheets that mimicked sea waves. The Rex became a symbol for the hopes of those who had nothing, of those who, while spotting its lights, imagined a better world, a better future, a better life. A goal that became reality for the director of Amarcord, the masterpiece that, on the 9th of April of 43 years ago, won an Oscar for best foreign movie, the fourth of Federico Fellini's extraordinary career. Don't be charmed by the forbidden world, voluptuous yet profoundly naive, of "la Gradisca" ("please, enjoy," in Italian), in the 1973's movie most iconic scene where, incredibly elegant in her red coat and whimsical black nightie, she utters the word her character is named after, while speaking to the prince who is to enjoy her sinuous curves under the sheets. With her seductive eyes, that muse we today find on the label of an excellent artisanal beer popular on the Adriatic riviera, offered her provincial, generously-hipped sex appeal to an audience dreaming to be the intended victim of a man eater, just as beautiful and rubenesque as she was. She became one of the most sensual characters in the history of Italian cinema, the unattainable symbol of the "femme fatale." Enjoy that beer, without thinking too much about Fellini and his famous oneiric world filled with symbolism, about dreams, creative freedom, magic and poetry. About the nostalgic taste they all bring along. Because Fellini, a director that Hollywood loves and loves to cite Fellini's interpretation of Italian identity From the director (from Paul Mazursky to Martin Scorsese, from Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman to Vincent Minnelli, from Woody Allen to Rob Marshall), was definitely much more than that. He managed to bring Italianità on the silver screen, sketching the relationship between popular identity and social, cultural and political contemporaneity. In Amarcord ("I remember," in Romagnolo dialect), he told of Fascist Italy like no other movie had ever done before. In Orchestra Rehearsal, to give you another example, he used allegory to represent the profound crisis of Italian democracy. It is especially thanks to Peter Bondanella, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Compared Literatures, Italian and History of Cinema at the University of Indiana, and pivotal figure of Italian Studies in the US, that Fellini's own essence has been deciphered. He wasn't only a dedicated scholar and translator of Fellini's own works, but he also helped understand how Fellini's child-like imagination was, in truth, representation and reaction to the changes taking place in Italy's collective imagination, trends, social habits and politico-cultural life. This is why Bondanella spoke widely about politics, Fascism and about the symbolic end of the First Republic - born after the Second World War - while discussing Fellini's works. Indeed, Fellini is integrant part of our national identity, a symbol of the Peninsula, just as Dante Alighieri and Michelangelo are, and the important artistic biography traced by Bondanella shows how his exuberant imagination was shaped by surrounding morals, literature and feelings. Bondanella explored in depth Fellini's key themes to reveal his growth not only as an artist of images, but also as a smart interpreter of Italy's culture and politics. Through previously unknown documents, dozens of manuscripts obtained directly from Fellini and his screenwriters, Bondanella clarified the director's contribution to the rise of Italian Neorealism and his decisive role in the evolution of all of the country's 1950s cinema, beyond Neorealism itself. He revealed facets of Fellini's art often hidden by his classical reputation of visionary, circus-inspired narrator, able to represent Rome's Dolce Vita - along with Italy's popular morals - with the by-night image of an iconic fountain where the bountiful and fiery beauty of Anita Ekberg bathes. 25 years after his death, a moment when the world understood it hadn't only lost a piece of cinema history, but an absolute artist, a visionary able to see the world through a personal, yet very much universal filter, the many suggestions conveyed by his movies should be looked at in more depth. For he, who himself became synonym of Italianità, should be read beyond stereotypes and understood in his immense complexity, which belongs to all human beings. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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