In Search of Fellini
Inspired by a True Adventure
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CLEVELAND CINEMATHEQUE – CLEVELAND, OH (March 23, 2018)
BEAR TOOTH THEATERPUB – ANCHORAGE, AK (Jan 29, 2018)
AMC WOODLAND SQUARE 20 – OLDSMAR, FL (CLEARWATER/TAMPA BAY) (Jan 19–25, 2018)
VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – VANCOUVER, BC (Jan 8, 2018)
CLEVELAND CINEMATHEQUE – CLEVELAND, OH (Jan 6–7, 2018)
CARY THEATER – CARY, NC (Dec 28–31, 2017)
FRESNO FILMWORKS – FRESNO, CA (Dec 8, 2017)
PARKWAY THEATER PITTSBURGH, PA (Dec 8, 2017)
CELEBRATION CINEMAS – WOODLAND Grand Rapids, MI (Oct 26–Nov 2)
CELEBRATION CINEMAS – CROSSROADS Portage, MI (Oct 26—Nov 2)
STUDIO C – Okemos, MI (Oct 26–Oct 31)
BOEDECKER THEATER AT THE DAIRY ARTS – Boulder, CO (Oct 11)
AMCE SCREENING ROOM – Lambertville, NJ (Oct 6)
CHATHAM ORPHEUM THEATER – Chatham Cape Cod, MA (Sept 29)
Audience Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
New York Times
Review: Love of Il Maestro Drives ‘In Search of Fellini’
Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson on the long-running animated television series, has made her first movie as a screenwriter and producer, a charming drama about the love of movies and youthful passion. “In Search of Fellini” reimagines a whirlwind adventure Ms. Cartwright once had to try to meet the Italian director Federico Fellini. With the help of her longtime collaborator and co-writer, Peter Kjenaas, and the first-time director Taron Lexton, Ms. Cartwright creates a Felliniesque fantasy of her own.
The Hollywood Reporter
‘In Search of Fellini’: Film Review
Taron Lexton’s sentimental road movie recounts a formative real(ish)-life vacation for screenwriter (and voice of Bart Simpson) Nancy Cartwright.
An idealized coming-of-age memoir in which a young woman’s disability-grade innocence doesn’t keep her from making the most of a solo sojourn across Italy, Taron Lexton’s In Search of Fellini speaks to and for women raised on cinematic fairy tales. Inspired by the experiences of The Simpsons star Nancy Cartwright, who before creating the voice of Bart went off hunting the auteur of La Dolce Vita, it marks the thesp’s first screenplay (co-written by another newbie, Peter Kjenaas). But however much its sentimentalized innocence stretches credulity, the overall production remains polished, and young dreamers who come across it in limited release may well embrace it.
Ksenia Solo plays Lucy, a blonde waif raised by a mother (Maria Bello’s Claire) who protected her from nearly every harsh reality life has to offer. Claire fails to protect Lucy from art house cinema, though: Upon stumbling into a screening of La Strada, Lucy sees a kindred spirit in sacrificial lamb Giulietta Masina. She falls hard for Fellini, gathering a stack of VHS tapes (the year is 1993) and absorbing the weird circus of his worldview.
In Search of Fellini follows the story of Lucy (Ksenia Solo), a 20-year-old who has never really experienced adult life because of the overbearing parenting style of her snakebit-by-the-world mother Claire (Maria Bello). After a voiceover-prologue that establishes Claire’s backstory and Lucy’s origins, the film quickly fasts forward to the early ‘90s, when Claire is diagnosed with advanced and aggressive cancer and Lucy is 20. Claire discusses her ailment with her sister and intends to keep it a secret from Lucy, but Lucy finds out anyhow. This commences a classic coming of age narrative.
Lucy endeavors to find a job, but has no skills. She is interested in film, though, and parlays that into an application that leads to an interview…at a local porn distributor, where her complete lack of gumption and worldliness sets up a funny scene that ultimately ends with her in tears. A few blocks from the failed interview, she quite literally stumbles upon a Fellini film festival. While Lucy grew up voraciously consuming films, she only ever watched sappy ‘50s-era Hollywood productions; this is her first taste of European art cinema. After watching La Strada on the big screen, she has an epiphany.
Behind the Lens
The story itself is beautiful and resonant. Co-written by Nancy Cartwright and Peter Kjenaas, and based on/inspired by a personal journey of Cartwright’s decades ago, ISOF has been 20 years in the making. Going through may itterations before reaching this ultimate version, the characters are well defined – even if just by a look – to the point that we know each one of them even without them saying a word. Perhaps this is more readily apparent to a Fellini fan, but no words are even necessary to “know” each character. Just a visual, and of course thanks to the editing of Spencer Jones and Alexa Vier, we are given Fellini context with a lovely ebb and flow style. Standout is the story construct as we go back and forth between Claire and Lucy. While Claire sits at home in America watching Fellini films with her sister Kerri, she finally begins to understand Lucy, as the audience sees Lucy playing out life for the first time, an ocean away. Beautifully done and tacitly speaks to that never-ending umbilical cord between Claire and Lucy.
After spending just a few minutes in Lucy’s company, you’ll realize: She’s agonizingly naive. But Lucy’s childlike manner is almost in keeping with Fellini’s pre-’60s work, populated by female leads possessed of varying degrees of innocence. In so many ways, she’s the perfect Fellini female lead, a true believer in the sort of magic that runs like a current through his filmography. (It doesn’t hurt, either, that she’s a spiritual dead ringer for Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s favorite leading lady, not only in his cinema but in his life: They married in 1943, and stayed together until his death in 1993 in spite of his affairs and his functional ineptitude concerning all things unrelated to filmmaking.)
Movie City News
Maybe, though, I can help draw attention to In Search of Fellini if I point out the romantic fantasy’s “Simpsons” connection. Everybody loves “The Simpsons.” In Search of Fellini was adapted from a one-woman play by Nancy Cartwright (with Peter Kjenaas,) who, since 1989, has been the voice of Bart Simpson on Fox’s trail-blazing animated series.
Before that, however, the Ohio native joined an acting class taught by Milton Katselas. He recommended that she study Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1954), which starred Giulietta Masina as the street urchin sold by her mother to circus strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn) to be his comic foil. Cartwright recalls performing “every imaginable scene” from the movie in her class and spending several months trying to secure the rights to produce a stage adaptation.
As to be expected, Lucy finds a lot more on her journey than just the famed Italian filmmaker, who was responsible for such classics as La Strada, La Dolve Vita and 8 1/2. Lucy, for example, makes a stopover in Verona, a picturesque city that served as inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In that lovely town by the river, Lucy finds a friend in Pietro (Enrico Oetiker). They explore the city together, and their conversations prove to be exactly what Lucy is looking for: a change from the ordinary. Although her mother is loving and caring, Lucy hardly left the house as a child and never had any relationships in the outside world. Pietro shows her a different way to live one’s life.
‘In Search of Fellini’ On Netflix: Watch The Nostalgic Coming-Of-Age Adventure Now
In Search of Fellini is rife with imagery that reference Fellini’s works and rich visual style, but it’s enjoyable for Fellini-first timers and superfans alike. There’s an immersive nature to the entire film; by the end, you’ll feel as though you too have traveled through Italy, collecting postcards in Rome, Venice, and Verona.
About the Film
A sheltered, small-town Ohio girl, is suddenly faced by harsh reality. Desperate for answers, she discovers hope in the delightfully bizarre films of Federico Fellini, and sets off on a strange, beautiful journey across Italy to find him. Along the way she discovers far more than she ever expected.
Directed by: Taron Lexton
Starring: Ksenia Solo, Maria Bello, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Written By: Nancy Cartwright, Peter Kjenaas
Executive Producers: Nancy Cartwright, Kevin Burke, Monika Bacardi, Andrea Iervolino
Producers: Peter Kjenaas, Monica Gil, Nathan Lorch, Milena Ferreira, Taron Lexton, Michael Doven
Production Services: Nicola Rosada, 360 Degrees Film
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distribution: AMBI Group 9454 Wilshire Blvd, Suite M-16 Beverly Hills, California 90212 310 274 2000 Contact: JJ Nugent, firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Contacts: Shinehouse Group: 951.532.0507 Anya Christiansen, email@example.com Samara Sims, firstname.lastname@example.org
|CAST AND CREW|
|Kerri||MARY LYNN RAJSKUB|
|Directed by||TARON LEXTON|
|Written by||NANCY CARTWRIGHT|
|Executive Producers||NANCY CARTWRIGHT|
|Casting||LISA LONDON & CATHERINE STROUD|
|Production Services||NICOLA ROSADA/360 DEGREES FILM|
|Director of Photography||KEVIN GARRISON|
K. SPENCER JONES
|Production Designer||TODD JEFFERY|
Like most people, I had seen a few of Fellini’s films, but I seized this opportunity to watch every single one of them. I sought out every book, documentary and personal friend of Fellini that I could find. I began to discover the complex and fascinating world of Fellini himself and saw how strikingly it intertwined with Nancy’s own story.
As the cast began to assemble, including the brilliant trio of Ksenia Solo, Maria Bello and Mary Lynn Rajskub, each brought new layers of depth and richness to the film. The process was incredibly collaborative, and was an amazing evolution from Nancy’s original experience in 1985, to her one-woman show in 1995, to the screenplay in 2015, including the daily discoveries of filming in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The film grew, steeped in authenticity and symbolism, a dreamscape of real Italian locations, true stories, fantasies and Fellini’s own films and pathos. It is a love letter to Italy, an homage to Fellini and an exploration of Nancy’s beautiful true story. At its core, it’s simply a story about growing up and about the thrilling and sometimes terrifying few inches between childhood and adulthood.
-Taron Lexton, Director