Since his passing in 1993, the international scholarly community has continued to pay tribute to Federico Fellini, tackling virtually every aspect of the legendary Italian director’s work, from his early days as a screenwriter to his mature films, from the notebooks in which he collected his dreams to the fragments of his incomplete pictures. Time, attention, and countless pages have also been devoted to the work of Fellini’s collaborators, from his wife Giulietta Masina, who starred in many of his films, to Nino Rota, the legendary composer whose scores accompanied so many of Fellini’s iconic images. The persistence of his influence on today’s filmmakers, and we would argue on the culture at large, is evidence of the fact that Fellini’s imagery has become a shared patrimony, a common currency that is exchanged with daily frequency in our media-saturated lives. Gelsomina’s tears, Marcello’s sunglasses, and Anita’s fountain bath have become global signifiers not only for Fellini and Italian cinema, but for Italy itself: they are as steadily lodged in the world’s collective unconscious as the Colosseum’s arches and Venice’s gondolas.
This conference aims to (re)assess the legacy of the late Italian film master Federico Fellini in the centenary of his birth (1920-2020). A complex and sometimes controversial auteur whose career spanned the second half of the twentieth century, Fellini’s work has explored different aspects of Italian culture and politics: from ancient Rome to eighteenth-century Venice, from machoism to Catholicism, from Fascism to Berlusconi. Fellini has always engaged with the pivotal aspects of Italian history and cultural heritage with an allegorical and yet realistic gaze, skillfully but not didactically, portraying the economic and social changes taking place over fifty years.
At the same time, Fellini was an omnivorous consumer of the most diverse cultural products: fascinated with popular art forms such as comics and radio-dramas, which he himself wrote, and with the occult (exemplified in his attention to the supernatural and the subconscious), Fellini’s work is also rich in sumptuous pictorial inspirations and in literary references. The multiplicity of these sources of inspiration contributed in Fellini’s shaping of an imagery that continuously merges the trivial and the highbrow, the solemn and the grotesque. At the same time, Fellini, especially in his late work, did not refrain from controversy, as shown by his polemical stances against television and his hesitations toward feminism.
The academic community is still actively engaged with Fellini's work, continuing to produce a plethora of interventions aimed at refining and updating the already vast bibliography on the Italian master. A number of volumes of recent publication (from Aldouby 2013 to Minuz 2015 to Carrera 2019) have returned to Fellini’s cinema and assessed it from a variety of novel vantage points, testing its resilience against the latest contributions in critical theory and making a compelling case for the need of its reevaluation. The variety of the conference papers, which range in topics from his literary and pictorial influences to his take on gender, race, and politics, will reflect the complexity of Fellini’s work and the multiplicity of contributions published about it. The conference is sponsored by the Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies, the Department of Italian Studies and the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto.
The conference will be live-streamed on the Youtube channel and Facebook page of the Department of Italian Studies of the University of Toronto and on the Facebook page of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Toronto.
To learn about the multi-day schedule and full details of the conference, please visit the conference website.