Life is a Feast: The Cinema of Federico Fellini

The Cinema of Federico Fellini

Italy | Federico Fellini

April 12 - June 14, 2023

Ten films on nine nights, April 12–June 14 | SIFF Cinema Uptown

All films screen at 7:30pm

A centennial celebration of legendary, beloved Italian master writer-director Federico Fellini (1920-93). Exclusively authorized by Fellini's studio Cinecitta (Rome), the series presents ten films restored by the Fellini Foundation, Martin Scorsese, and Gucci. Experience the soaring imagination, dazzling visuals, warm humanism, humor, and spiritual transcendence of one of the cinema's supreme artists.

Series Pass discount for Members of Festa Italiana, SIFF, SAM, UW Cinema and Media Studies and Italian Studies, Alliance Francaise de Seattle, NWFF, SFI, Cornish, TheFilmSchool, Scarecrow Video and KING FM. Single tickets are $15 each.

Schedule & Tickets

SIFF year-round passes and vouchers are not valid for this series.

Welcome Spring with a feast of cinematic splendor. Maestro Italian writer-director Federico Fellini (1920-93) says, "Life is a combination of pasta and magic," reality and imagination," and his delectable vision embraces gorgeous imagery, sensual pleasures, all the ups and downs of being human, a soulful yearning for transcendence—all served with a lightness of spirit, and the jaunty, enchanting music of Nino Rota. Many of the films feature Fellini's Oscar-winning wife Giulietta Masina, and Fellini's onscreen alter-ego Marcello Mastroianni. These two luminaries appeared together in just one film, Ginger and Fred, which will be flown in from Rome for our screening.

Screenings include Variety Lights, Toby Dammit, I Vitelloni, La Strada, The Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Juliet of the Spirits, Amarcord, Ginger and Fred, all restored by Fellini's studio Cinecitta, the Fellini Foundation, Martin Scorsese, and Gucci. Poet, film curator and teacher Tova Gannana will provide essays on all the films. Theater concessions include wine, beer, coffees and teas. Mask-wearing welcome.

Present your ticket on the day of the film at any Tutta Bella Pizzeria and receive a 10% discount on the total price. Series tickets can be used each of the nine weeks. Ticket buyers can use the code ITALIA for a 10% discount at the Mediterranean Inn, across from the Uptown, any night April 12 through June 14.

Series presented by Festa Italiana and Greg Olson Productions.

  • Director: Federico Fellini
  • Principal Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn, Anita Ekberg, Alberto Sordi
  • Country: Italy
  • Language: Italian
  • Has Subtitles: Yes


Variety Lights

April 12: Variety Lights and Toby Dammit

Variety Lights, 1950. Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina stars in his first film, a delightful chronicle of a traveling theater troupe's professional and personal adventures, as an ambitious beauty tries to take over the whole show.

Toby Dammit, 1969. Transitioning from Neo-realism to his unbridled imagination, Fellini interprets an Edgar Alan Poe story as a wastrel English actor (Terence Stamp) entering Rome to make a "Catholic Western," and betting the Devil he can leap a chasm in his Ferrari.

I Vitelloni

April 18: I Vitelloni

I Vitelloni, 1953. With a sense of lost youth and warm memory, Fellini evokes the seaside town where he grew up, and the well-dressed young men who dream away their time rather than pursuing realistic goals. Responsibilities with women and their families intrude on their good times, and one man (Moraldo: Franco Interlenghi) pictures a big-city world of enticing possibilities beyond the town. This, of course, is Fellini, who found his brilliant calling in Rome, "my maternal city." In terms of Fellini's artistic universe, Moraldo is a forerunner of La Dolce Vita's Marcello and 8 1/2's Guido. In I Vitelloni, Fellini's musically gifted brother Ricardo plays a would-be pop singer, and composer Nino Rota's lush, perky music is first heard. It will be a moving, enveloping presence throughout the series films. With the great actor Alberto Sordi. Top prize, Venice Film Festival.

La Strada

April 25: La Strada

La Strada, 1954. This masterpiece of heart and spirit enchanted audiences worldwide. A simple peasant girl (Gelsomina: Giulietta Masina) is sold to a circus strongman (Zampano: Anthony Quinn) who breaks chains with his puffed-up chest. Traveling the backroads of Italy, he treats her badly, but she retains her awestruck receptivity to the world's wonders, which is reinforced by an angelic tightrope walker (Richard Basehart). He teaches her life lessons, and a confrontation with the emotionally primitive Quinn is sure to happen. Fellini and Masina's emotional-visual poetry is divine. Masina was chosen Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Oscars gave their first Best Foreign Film Award to La Strada.

The Nights of Cabiria

May 3: The Nights of Cabiria

The Nights of Cabiria, 1957. A marked contrast to La Strada's Gelsomina, Giulietta Masina's Cabiria is a feisty, street-smart Roman prostitute, with the will to change her life--if the world will let her. Her generous, trusting spirit gets her in trouble, but she keeps plunging in, dining with a movie star, joining a religious procession, getting hypnotized on stage. She's resilient, but how much rejection can she take? In one of the cinema's greatest endings, Masina and Fellini show us that even when all is lost, there are notes of grace on the night wind. Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Cabiria was the lifetime Seattle Times film critic John Hartl's (1946-2022) favorite film.

La Dolce Vita

May 10: La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita, 1960. If Giulietta Masina is the female icon of Fellini's cinema, the handsome, reflective Marcello Mastroianni is the male. Here his Marcello is a world-weary gossip journalist who knows he could be doing more serious writing. What could spark him into changing his life? He has a surge of feeling for a visiting actress (Anita Ekberg), and they famously kiss in the nocturnal Trevi Fountain's waters. He interacts with other women, admires his intellectual friend Steiner, attends a religious "miracle," but too easily forgets his dreams in his familiar parade of parties and glittering society. Can he even recognize simple innocence when it beckons? In this hugely influential film Fellini sensed the disruptive early vibrations of Sixties' cultural change. He felt he was dealing with decadence, but our senses more likely perceive a stylish wonderland of mid-century Italian Cool. With the Velvet Underground's singer Nico.Top Prize Cannes Film Festival.

8 1/2

May 23: 8 1/2

8 1/2, 1963. What can we say? Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert saw 8 1/2 over 25 times. It's a favorite film of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, a profound and supremely entertaining work of art about the process of making art. Film director Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) is stuck, in all aspects of his life, overburdened with problems and confusion. He's not clear about the shape of his next film, but his screenwriter, actors, critics, the press, his wife, his mistress--all want answers NOW. Can soothsayers, an angelic woman (Claudia Cardinale), his dead parents, help? Yes, his dead parents: 8 1/2 showed the world's filmmakers how to craft a cinematic stream that melds past and present, dream and reality into emotionally resonant poetry. Maybe the mess of Guido's life is the raw material of his art. Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Costumes.

Juliet of the Spirits

May 31: Juliet of the Spirits

Juliet of the Spirits, 1965. Fellini, having given stunning cinematic reality to the inner/outer turmoils of 8 1/2's Guido, makes a similar emotional-spiritual exploration of a woman's quandary. Juliet (Giulietta Masina, Fellini's wife) enjoys the well-appointed comforts of suburban Roman life, but she's far from happy. Her husband strays to other women, and she feels imprisoned by her strict religious upbringing. Juliet is far more introverted than Guido, and she's visited by spirits of the past/present/future who lighten her burden of guilt and expand her capacity for sensual enjoyment out in the world. Perhaps all the spirits are her. Juliet is Fellini's first color film, and cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo achieves wonders with the light spectrum's textures. New York Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Film.


June 7: Amarcord

Amarcord, 1973. The word means "I Remember," and the film evokes the seaside town of Fellini's youth in the 1930s, when Fascists ruled, but life went on, following the seasons; snow flakes in winter, puffballs in spring. And the seasons of a family: the son obsessed with pranks and women, father secretly agitating against the invading dictators, mama serving up a big dinner. People watch American movie stars at the cinema, the town beauty dreams of marriage, and all gather to see a gigantic ocean liner pass by. With warmth and humor, Fellini makes the whole town feel like a family. Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Ginger and Fred

June 14: Ginger and Fred

Ginger and Fred, 1985. Harkening back to "the variety shows of my youth," and his film Variety Lights, Fellini cast his wife, and his best friend, to play an aging dance couple tapped to star in a big TV Christmas special. Ginger (Giulietta Masina) has kept herself in shape over the years, but Fred (Marcello Mastroianni) has become an impoverished, boozy, charming vulgarian. Fellini has great satirical fun with the world of commercial TV production, but when it's time for Masina and Mastroianni to attempt to emulate Miss Rogers and Mister Astaire, it is serious magic.