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Homage to Marcello Mastroianni
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Eleven years after the death of Marcello Mastroianni, the Shanghai International Film Festival salutes a giant of the Italian cinema with a tribute aptly entitled The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, Xu Wei looks back over his life.

It's hard to find another Italian actor or director with a prouder name, richer filmography and more brilliant accolades than the late Italian film artist Marcello Mastroianni.

During his 50 years acting career, Mastroianni starred in more than 120 movies and earned numerous awards including two Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Best Actor and an Honorary Award from the Venice International Film Festival.

Although most of his movies never hit Chinese cinemas on their first release, an ongoing retrospective of his works in Shanghai, entitled The Stuff That Dreams Are Made of, will help fill this void.

The movies are part of the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival. Four representative works - Divorce Italian Style, 8 1/2, The Sweet Life and Big Deal on Madonna Street will be shown.

Remarkably, Anna Tato, Mastroianni's long-time lover and companion for the last 22 years of his life, also brings her 210-minute award-winning documentary Marcello Mastroianni: I Remember, Yes I Remember to local audiences.

"What impresses me deeply was Mastroianni's modesty," says Tato. "Famous as he was, he kept comfortable relationship with the film crew. For him, each shooting experience was an exciting adventure. He believed a good relationship must be based on exchange and communication."

Tato shot the film while Mastroianni, then 72, was making Voyages to the Beginning of the World for Portuguese director Manoel Oliveira. Alone before the camera, Mastroianni recollects and reflects on his career and life with irony and a gentle wonder.

The master didn't conceal his aspiration for new experiences and new journeys in this autobiographical monologue, saying: "I like people; I love life; perhaps that is why life has loved me in return."

In 1998, two years after Mastroianni's death, the Marcello Mastroianni Foundation was founded. As an initiator of the foundation, Tato has endeavored to preserve valuable film clips of the artist.

The foundation is now located in the city of Bologna, hosted by Cineteca di Bologna. It offers audiences a large collection of audio-visual documents about the famous Italian actor and other masters in the film industry like Charles Chaplin.

The 92-year-old Italian director Mario Monicelli, a friend of Mastroianni, is also at the film festival in Shanghai. In 1958 they collaborated on Big Deal on Madonna Street, a comedy taking a hilarious look at the plight of a sad-sack group of bumbling burglars and their desperate attempts to pull off the perfect heist.

"The Italian cinema has a long tradition of focusing on reality and our lives," says Monicelli, who has garnered a Golden Lion Award and three Silver Bear Awards for Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival.

"For Hollywood, perhaps film is a business, but for us, we can't find a better medium to express our emotions and showcase the connections among different people," he adds.

Nowadays, like many other film markets around the world, Italian filmmakers are facing fierce competition from Hollywood blockbusters.

However, Monicelli believes that in the future Italian filmmakers will keep their unique realism tradition of portraying the essence of life with universal themes and rich imagination.

His suggestion for the younger generation of directors is simply "Do not miss any chance to make a film, no matter if it is a big eye-catching production or not."

In addition to the retrospective screenings which pay tribute to Mastroianni, 17 recent Italian movies will also be shown at the Focus Italy special Italian film exhibition, such as Alessandro D'Alatri's Commediasexy, Crime Novel, Ballroom Dancing and The White Ballad.

These works, covering genres from thrillers to comedy to romance will provide an insight into the culture and modern social life of Italy.

(Shanghai Daily June 20, 2007)

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