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Fellini: A Director's Notebook

Directed by Federico Fellini.
Italy, 1969, DCP, color, 52 min.
English and Italian with English subtitles.

As a peak behind the curtain at Fellini’s filmmaking process, the television documentary Fellini: A Director’s Notebook, which aired on NBC in 1969, is only intermittently enlightening. As a piece of director mythology put together by Fellini himself, however, it’s a revealing look into the artist’s mind during a critical juncture in his career: namely, the period between his initial acclaim and the upcoming decade of films that would face charges of self-indulgence. The film that would come to kickstart that critical narrative, Fellini Satyricon, is the project being developed during A Director’s Notebook, though one wouldn’t necessarily know it from the strange assortment of locations Fellini visits over the course of the hour-long film: the Colosseum, a subway, a slaughterhouse, the Appian Way, Marcello Mastroianni’s villa during a photo shoot, and, finally, a nondescript office where a variety of eccentrics flaunt their talents for the director. Fellini is a fleeting presence throughout, glimpsed only briefly and rarely saying much, but the film’s peculiar montage—alternating between dreamy tracking shots and fly-on-the-wall handheld work—is clearly a reflection of his divided attention as he balances his own wandering imagination with the demands and inquiries of the associates guiding the documentary’s production.

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