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A Fellini Museum, as Grand as His Movies

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A Fellini Museum, as Grand as His Movies

RIMINI, Italy — Federico Fellini is one of a select group of film directors to receive an Oxford English Dictionary-approved adjective: “felinisque”, defined as “brilliant, quirky”; Gorgeous, extraordinary. “

That description could easily apply to the Fellini Museum, which opened in the Italian waterfront city of Rimini – the director’s birthplace – earlier this month: a multimedia project that draws visitors into Fellini’s unnamed cinematic universe.

The museum is on a spectacular turn (pages from the so-called “Book of Dreams”, Fellini’s drawings and music on his nightly reverence, appear on a wall when visitors fly on a wing); Gorgeous (this includes exotic costumes from the popular fashion show in her 1972 film “Roma”); and quirky (what to make of a giant stately statue of actress Anita Ekberg, which visitors can lean on to watch scenes from “La Dolce Vita?”).

“We wanted a museum that went beyond the primary resources displayed in the showcase, and allowed the visitor to be an engaged spectator,” said film professor Marco Bertozzi. at Venice’s Euve University, who curated the museum with art historian Anna Villari.

The museum consists of two historic buildings, with a large piazza in the middle, which effectively reconfigures a significant part of the city of Rimini.

“This is an operation that changed the face of the city,” said Marco Leonetti, one of the city officials who oversaw the project. Along with museum sites, the same square includes a theater that was bombed and destroyed in World War II, now meticulously renovated and reopened in 2018, as well as a refurbished medieval building that has been converted into a contemporary art museum. which was opened a year ago.

“We are slowly rebuilding the memory of our city,” said Francesca Minak, archaeologist and city tourism officer.

Rimini’s administrators are hoping that the museum will attract longtime fans of Fellini and those who were too young to see his films in movie theaters. He hopes the latter group will be entertained by installations and interactive screens (now on automatic mode due to the pandemic) that provide insight into Fellini’s rich imagination.

“The museum works as a time machine of sorts,” said Leonardo Sangiorgi, one of the founders of Milan-based art collective Studio Azuro, which created the museum’s multimedia displays, giving viewers the details and nuances of Fellini’s films. allowed to taste.

In Castel Cismondo, a Renaissance-era palace that is one of the museum’s buildings, the people with whom the director worked and the places he occupied in celluloid characterize visitors to Fellini-land .

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One of the first rooms is dedicated to Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Massina, who starred in “La Strada” (1956) and “Knights of Cabiria” (1957), films that won back to back Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. Won and brought Fellini. international headlines.

Fellini won two other Oscars in that category, for “8 ” (1963) and “Amarcord,” (1974), and Massina is the only person Fellini thanked for an honorary mention in his acceptance speech at the 1993 Oscars. Gave. Award “in recognition of his place as one of the screen’s master storytellers.” Seven months later, on October 31, Fellini died.

Some of the memorabilia are interactive panels, including pages of musical scores by Fellini’s collaborator, Nino Rota, and a reconstruction of the director’s library (with books by Georges Simenon and Kafka, as well as Collodi’s “Pinocchio”). After lengthy negotiations with the copyright owners, several photographs and several clips from his films have been received. If you had the patience and time, it would have taken about six hours to see them all, Bertozzi said.

The second is the 18th-century palazzo, the ground floor of which is occupied by the Fulgore Cinema, where Fellini discovered cinema in his youth, Leonetti said, and was later immortalized in “Amarcord”, Fellini’s fascist- Coming montage Rimini of the era. (In an interview in the documentary “Fellini: I’m a Born Liar”, the director said that Rimini had “completely reconstructed” in “Amarcord”, “more of my life than the other, topographically accurate , Rimini.”)

Fulgor was reorganized by production designer Dante Ferretti, who worked with Fellini on five films, and it reopened as a working movie theater in 2018. An exhibition area on the upper floors is expected to be inaugurated in October.

The demand for a museum for Fellini began in Rimini soon after the death of the filmmaker. The city named a major seaside park, a piazza and an elementary school after him, and many streets now bear the name of his films. But, even then, a feeling remained that Fellini was somewhat overlooked at home.

The Fellini Museum project picked up steam in early 2018, when the Italian Ministry of Culture allocated 12 million euros, roughly $14 million, for its construction. Originally scheduled to open in 2020, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth, the coronavirus has put a gap in timing.

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Fellini was no stranger to controversy. When “La Dolce Vita” hit the screens in 1960, it caused a national scandal, including a parliamentary debate and a scathing reaction from the Vatican’s official newspaper, Osservatore Romano, who called it “disgusting”. (Times have changed. This month Osservatore Romano published a great review of the museum.)

A redesign of Piazza Malatesta with the opening of the museum provoked similar disdain from heritage conservation groups.

“They have changed the piazza to attract tourists, not thinking about the residents of the city,” said Guido Bartolucci, president of the local branch of the Italia Nostra conservation group.

The piazza now includes a large circular bench, intended to evoke the ring-around-the-roses of actors with revolving stools in the final scene of “8 “. In between for children’s walks. There is also a life-size statue of a rhinoceros from “And the Ship Sails On” (1983); City officials had to put up a “Do Not Ride” sign Next to it, to prevent people from climbing up.

But the element that has bothered some locals the most is a giant fountain that sprays mist every half an hour, giving rise to the Rimini fog seen in some of Fellini’s films.

Bartolucci stated that the fountain violates Italy’s strict heritage laws, as it encroaches upon historical remains in the Rimini sublands. The authorities could have redeveloped another part of the city, he said, adding that the decision to replace the piazza was taken with no public debate or input.

Italia Nostra proposes to turn Castel Sismondo into a museum to show Rimini’s hidden history, from its Roman past to the heyday of the Renaissance, in a way that will nurture a “sense of community” for the residents, Bartolucci said. “Instead, the Fellini Museum has canceled the name of the palace,” he said.

The city official, Leonetti, said, “The armoring of the rooms is not the only way to enliven the palace,” adding that the new piazza has replaced a parking lot and a downscale market. In the few weeks since it was opened to the public, “it has become a place where people gather,” he said.

On a warm morning last week, several children cheered in the fountain while their parents watched. “If the kids like it, we did it right,” Leonetti said.

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