During his career as a writer and director, Scola won six David di Donatello’s (the Italian equivalent to the Oscar) and was nominated four times for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. He has dozens upon dozens of titles to his credit, but a few of the most popular are the 1974 ensemble masterpiece, "C'eravamo tanto amati" (We all loved each other so much), the 1965 "Io la conoscevo bene" (I Knew Her Well) directed by Antonio Pietrangeli, starring Stefania Sandrelli and the 1977 Academy Award-nominated "Una giornata particolare" (A Special Day) starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. I recently saw his very latest work to reach American shores, the 2013 documentary, “How Strange to Be Named Federico” about his dear friend and colleague Federico Fellini.
|Scola on the set of his film, "How Strange to named Federico"|
In “How Strange to Be Named Federico,” Scola speaks to the strong presence of the muse in Fellini’s work, which in his case was more than one. It’s safe to say there were four: actor Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina, his wife of 50 years, the city of Rome and the Romans. It is noted in Scola’s documentary that “Fellini adopted Mastroianni as an ideal alter-ego in his main films. In fact, he took better care of him than he did himself: forcing physical exercise and diets on him that he himself never did”. Scola also recalls how “it took many car rides and convincing to get Fellini to play himself in “We all loved each other so much”. When he finally accepted the offer, it was on the condition that he wouldn’t be filmed from behind, “so no one sees my bald spot”. Scola beautifully ended his film with “La Passerella,” Nino Rota’s signature circus-like melody from “8 ½” in a collage of powerful images from his films with Alberto Sordi and Mastroianni.
I recently saw Ettore Scola in person at Rome’s Festa del Cinema, where he attended the premiere of his daughters’ documentary about him- “Ridendo e Scherzando”, featuring Pierfrancesco Diliberto (PIF). Scola was just what you’d expect from a filmmaker from the Golden Age of Italian cinema- a distinguished, elegant man with a gentle manner. One thing I really admire about the young Italian filmmakers is the great amount of respect they have for their predecessors. They adored the filmmakers we recently lost, like Michelangelo Antonioni, Mario Monicelli and Francesco Rosi, and they continue to pay homage to the greats that are still with us like Claudia Cardinale, Flavio Bucci and most recently, Scola.
Many of Scola’s films are available through Amazon, but make sure that you read the reviews before purchasing them because the dubbed copies are not always the highest quality. However, “How Strange to Be Named Federico”, his homage to Federico Fellini, is available to stream through Neflix. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.