Federico Fellini was born on January 20, 1920 in Rimini (small Italian seaside resort). Weak child, young Federico finds refuge in his wild imagination. He loves the circus and the cinema : he admires the Marx brothers, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin but also the acrobat dwarves and the clowns… His assiduous frequentation of the cinema does nothing but grow and in parallel, he starts to expose his drawings. At the age of 18, he settles in Rome and immediately falls in love with the city. His meeting with Roberto Rossellini was decisive : director with a good reputation yet, he entrusts to Federico the scenario writing of Rome, open city in 1945. Great critical and commercial success, their collaboration will continue on other films, and sometimes, as he is sick, Roberto Rossellini will entrust even the camera to Federico Fellini for certain plans.
”I didn't choose to become director : it's the cinema that chose me.” Fellini will then starts directing by his own, and it will be the beginning of a long and prestigious career, that will end after 24 films, 5 oscars and a palme d'or on the 31st of october 1993.
He has signed big classics such as La dolce vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963), Satyricon (1969), Roma (1972), Amarcord (1973), Intervista (1987)…
Emir Kusturica is often quoted as the Fellini of the Balkans. We'll see the comparison is fair for several reasons.
In her excellent book on Emir Kusturica, Dina Iordanova recalls a sentence of Emir Kusturica in 1999 : ”I'm proud of having discovered how Fellini made his films, and using the same little tricks, like a magician who sees a circus, and then goes in another to work. There are three specific features : first, the excitement that comes from every character, second, the incredible architecture of the scenes, third, the dominant Mediterranean paganistic vision of life.”
Emir Kusturica has often quoted Amarcord as being the major inspiring work for his film Time of the Gypsies. He is said to be screening the film continuously in his caravan before arriving on the set. We can see obvious visual references, like, for example :
Beyond this film, the references to Amarcord can be found also in other Emir Kusturica's films such as :
About Amarcord, Emir says that he tried eight times to watch it, when he was student at the FAMU, but each time he fell asleep after fifteen minutes. The ninth time, he was captivated, and since then, this film didn't cease to haunt him. It's certainly the film that has the most influence on his work.
The influence of Fellini on Kusturica's work is also wider : we can find homages to many other films of the Italian maestro :