Film & TV

ST.ALi Italian Film Festival: Fellini Forward

Can artificial intelligence work with a film crew to create a “new” Fellini movie?

Federico Fellini is regarded by many, including other directors, as being THE genius of cinema. To Italians he has reached some kind of sainthood, embodying as his works do, the very spirit of urbane Italian life. And he is one of those few artists who has become an adjective: Felliniesque.

So Campari had to eye-ball a cultural behemoth in sponsoring this project whereby Artificial Intelligence (AI) would help to write a short film in the style of the Master.

Fellini Forward is the documentary which tells the story of this audacious and ambitious project.

Director Maximilian Niemann talks about the challenge of both encapsulating Fellini, and of working creatively with AI. A team of experts is on hand to guide both in cultural and technical terms, including Francesca Fabbri Fellini, Federico’s niece. Emphasis throughout the project is on collaboration. The AI is not there to dictate, but serves rather as a program for capturing some of the essence of the Master’s works including camera angles, facial expressions, tropes, and imagery. One of the more interesting moments occurs when the team gathers to watch some AI-created shots and Blasco Giurato (cinematographer for several of Fellini’s works) immediately picks out an extreme close-up and asserts that Federico would never have used that type of shot.

The documentary itself, directed by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper, is an odd mish-mash. It explores the concept of “genius”, it discusses AI and its application to creative fields, it shows a film-crew working in an unusual yet collaborative way, and finally it shows us the resulting short-film. It is strangely fascinating for all that, spoilt only by the dire voice-overs which sound like TV advertisements from the 50s (and not in a fun way).

Showing as part of the ST. ALi Italian Film Festival, Fellini Forward has a special screening on October 28th at Palace Cinemas Eastend, including a Campari and soda on arrival, and a Campari gift bag.

To book tickets, click here.

Fascinating and audacious 3.5 stars

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