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To Sirk with Love, The Films of Douglas Sirk

One of classical Hollywood’s supreme stylists, Douglas Sirk raised the melodrama to an art form with his [...]

One of classical Hollywood’s supreme stylists, Douglas Sirk raised the melodrama to an art form with his expressionist imagery and critical view of post-war America as an affluent society where – haunted by the fear of failure – private misery hid behind a facade of confidence. Appearances reign supreme in Sirk’s intensely optical cinema: characters are often trapped in mirror reflections, unable to free themselves from society’s gaze.

Sirk’s expressionism came from his German background: working with cinematographer Russell Metty – who remarked that they shot melodramas like film noir – Sirk created a blatantly artificial world full of dramatic, shadowy contrasts in lighting and filled with garish colours, in which the larger-than-life emotions of his characters reverberated within a hall of mirrors that was Sirk’s vision of image-obsessed America, where an individual’s authentic self was hopelessly lost.

Sirk straddled high and low culture effortlessly: he was equally at home adapting Faulkner or Remarque as he was working with popular fiction. Indeed, his artistry in utilizing the resources of pop culture – Rock Hudson as matinee idol, Frank Skinner’s kitsch music, and other forms of “bad taste” – to fashion his ironic view of America has endeared him as the godfather of camp to such later filmmakers influenced by his style as Fassbinder, Almodóvar, Todd Haynes, and John Waters.

Once misunderstood as cheap or vulgar, Sirk’s melodramas are now properly appreciated for both their hysterical excesses and subversively Freudian view of sexual repression in conservative, Eisenhowerera America, replete with outrageous phallic imagery critical of the period’s patriarchy.

Fellini 100

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s (1920-1993) birth, Cine Fan mounts a full retrospective of his [...]

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s (1920-1993) birth, Cine Fan mounts a full retrospective of his cinematic works. In the fantastical world the Italian maestro invented, the anarchic juxtaposition of fantasy and reality finds its amazing resonance in 2020, a year of turmoil and absurdity that echoes his imaginings.

Transitioning from his roots in Italian Neorealism, Felliniinvented a distinctive style of arty symbolism and whimsical surrealism. Spinning off from La Strada (1954) and Nights of Cabiria (1957), which saw him rise to international stardom, he blended authenticity with outlandish flights of imagery, seeing beyond the grotesque of his characters into the abyss of loneliness. What he conceived is a vision of life that is “spiritually realistic”, genuinely tender and compassionate.

An autobiographical vein running through nearly all of his films – be it post-adolescent limbo in I Vitelloni (1953), glamorous indulgence in La Dolce Vita (1960), or artistic crisis in (1963) – he transfigured his childhood reminiscence in Rimini and personal adventure in Rome into whimsical artifice that reflect his own fascination. Inspired by a lifelong obsession with the circus, he constructed his beguiling universe of “carnivalesque” spectacle, dreamlike imagery and bizarre scenarios to explore themes of memory, desire and artistic expression.

A marvelous ship sailing in a plastic ocean, Venetians indulging in 18th Century’s decadence, and a pagan journey through Nero’s Rome – Fellini’s visionary creations transcend time and space, yet are never away from the safe haven of Cinecittà. In the dream factory he became an omnipresent sorcerer, creating cinema only a magnificent few can equal, while contemplating its decline alongside his own mortality.

Everything he was, everything he imagined – dreams and desires, fears and regrets – is put into his cinema. To know him is to watch his films, in silence – as the last words in The Voice of the Moon (1990): “If we all quieted down a little, maybe we’d understand something.”

Federico Fellini 100 is part of the Federico Fellini 100 Tour, a series of centennial tributes to Federico Fellini (1920–1993), which will travel to major museums and film institutions worldwide, coordinated by Paola Ruggiero and Camilla Cormanni from Luce Cinecittà. All films (unless noted) have been digitally restored by Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cine teca Nazionale.

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