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Martin Scorsese Reveals Details About His Federico Fellini Movie That Never Happened

Two icons of cinema almost teamed up on an unconventional documentary about film production.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

Gregorio Borgia/AP/Shutterstock

Martin Scorsese spent the 1990s working on films “The Age of Innocence,” “Casino,” “Kundun,” and “Bringing Out the Dead,” but it turns out he was planning to squeeze in at least one more project that would’ve been a doozy for cinephiles. While receiving the Rome Film Festival’s lifetime achievement award, Scorsese remembered a collaboration between himself and Federico Fellini that never got made because of the Italian director’s death in October 1993.

“In the early ‘90s, unfortunately he passed away [before we could start], but we had the possibility of making with Universal his version of a documentary on production,” Scorsese said (via Italian outlet The Republic). “He had a series of scripts on how a production is made. One, you have the production itself. Then you have the actor, then you have the cinematographer. He was going to make a Fellini film on each one.”

Prior to Fellini’s death, the two were getting the funds together to make the documentary. Fellini was set to direct the project, with Scorsese serving as executive producer. One of the goals of the project was to shine a light on the specific details of film production that often aren’t spoken about in the press.

“For example, a very important thing in the production, one that we were getting the money for, that was when you go location scouting, wherever you go, at a certain point of the day, you go to the location that has the best restaurant,” Scorsese said. “Even though you’re not going to use the location, go see it, everybody eats, and everyone is fine. It’s very important for filmmaking.”

Scorsese has long been an outspoken Fellini fan throughout his career (the director’s magnum opus “8½” is one of Scorsese’s favorite films ever made), so the idea these two filmmaking giants were gearing up to collaborate is as enticing as film history gets. Scorsese’s Film Foundation recently spent time restoring Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” which screened at the Rome Film Festival.

Scorsese is set to return to movies next year with the release of his gangster drama “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The film is backed by Netflix and is expected to have a theatrical release in addition to being made available globally on the streaming platform. The Rome Film Festival runs through October 28.

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