Federico Fellini is in the news these days. If a modern remake of his La Dolce Vita, one of the greatest classics the world has ever known, is being planned, the auteur's mysterious disappearance during the 1957 Oscars in Los Angeles will be made into a movie.
The iconic director's family has given the go-ahead for La Dolce Vita being made all over again with a new cast. The Rome-based firm, AMBI Group, has bought the rights for the film, and it was confident of making a movie that will in no way belittle or dishonour Fellini's memory. He died in 1993, when he was 73.
La Dolce Vita opened in 1960, won the Palm d'Or at Cannes the same year and went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards. It won only one -- for Best Costume Design.
It is quite possible that Italian helmer Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty (screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and which won the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2014) -- which was in a way a take on La Dolce Vita -- rekindled interest in Fellini's masterpiece, as well as his vanishing act.
A new movie, Fellini Black and White, written and directed Henry Bromell (who produced Homeland), is set to go on the floors. Fellini was missing for 48 hours (Remember Agatha Christie's 11-day disappearance in 1926) in Los Angeles during his first trip to America in 1957 to attend the Oscars ceremony. Bromell's film will star Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Fellini, and the story suggests that the Italian auteur spent those days discovering jazz, surfing and having a fling with an American woman, a vet.
Undoubtedly, Fellini had this mystifying trait of getting into a cab and going off in a completely different direction. It is probable that he found LA alluring. It was, after all, a dream factory in those days.
Fellini is supposed to have emerged from these shadows as a completely different man. He got out of his neo-realist style of film making to create some fantastic cinema.
This is not about all. In what clearly appears to be a Fellini wave of nostalgia, another movie -- inspired by his Nights of Cabria -- has just been announced. The new work, titled The Days of Mary, has a young working woman (instead of a prostitute in the original) looking for, like Fellini's heroine, romance, though not in Rome but in Reno in Nevada. Juliette Lewis, renowned for her role in Oliver Stone's controversial, Natural Born Killers, will play the lead in this latest film -- whose promoters sought financial backers at Cannes in May.
All these projects underline the undying fascination for Fellini -- who was not as popular with critics as he was with movie theorists. They saw in him a 'childlike adolescence' -- not quite the cup of tea for reviewers, more enamoured of intellectual cinema than popular fare. Fellini was never considered highbrow.