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Intervista

Directed by Federico Fellini.
With Sergio Rubini, Antonella Ponziani, Maurizio Mein.
Italy, 1987, DCP, color, 105 min.
Italian, Japanese and English with English subtitles.

Cinecittà was the ground upon which Fellini built his life’s work, and with Intervista, four decades into his career, he finally turns his camera on the studio lot itself. Undergoing great change from both new modes of production and the encroachment of urban development, the backlot appears here as a flurry of activity from early morning through late in the night, with various productions often butting into one another and an eccentric workforce comprised of what feel like thinly veiled stand-ins for real Cinecittà mainstays. The loose narrative throughline follows Fellini himself (though more often the gallery of assistants who do his bidding) as preparations are made for what is allegedly a feature adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Amerika, though the periods of filming we do encounter imply a more Fellini-centric project with various reinterpretations of scenes from his filmography. Through it all, a Japanese student crew films a documentary about this process, periodically asking high-minded questions of the fabled director—to which he rarely gives complete answers. Eventually Marcello Mastroianni shows up as a flamboyant magician figure, and the entire production crew takes a detour to Anita Ekberg’s countryside villa for an afternoon screening of La Dolce Vita, a scenario that prompts a poignant meditation on the passing of time and the meaning of artistic legacy.

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