In Search of Fellini
Inspired by a True Adventure
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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. Click here to read the full review at The New York Times.
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. Click here to read the rest of this review at The Hollywood Reporter.
Opening with a dream-sequence that serves as a statement of purpose, In Search of Fellini is a film about cinema and the magic of the medium, its deep history and the joy it conjures in those who truly love the moving picture. The sequence also establishes that this is more reality-adjacent than real. The viewer who decides to submit to the film’s immediately apparent charms will be rewarded with a delightful coming of age story that carefully dips into the fantasy that lies at the heart of cinema.
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. Click here to read the rest of this review at Spectrum Culture.
Behind the Lens
Your appreciation of Taron Lexton’s In Search of Fellini will correlate directly to your appreciation of its winsome lead, Lucy (Ksenia Solo). Lucy is a small town girl from Ohio who, having spent her life living in a protective bubble shaped by mother Claire (Maria Bello) to protect her from the vagaries of being human, decides to make for Italy to meet Federico Fellini, the maestro himself. She is enchanted by his films, as anyone would be, after watching them all during a Fellini film festival, and having been raised on dreams and whimsy, she cannot resist the allure of his magic.
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.) Read the rest of this review at Paste Magazine.
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, email@example.com
Press Contacts: Shinehouse Group: 951.532.0507 Anya Christiansen, firstname.lastname@example.org Samara Sims, email@example.com
|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|
In Search of Fellini has been a truly strange and wonderful project. I’ve always had a deep love for Italy and spent time there growing up. I always dreamed of finding an excuse to film there. In 2014, when Nancy Cartwright sat me down over coffee and relayed her extraordinary true experiences pursuing Federico Fellini in her youth—which inspired her screenplay—I was electrified.
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