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Pope Francis Says He Likes Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini Films

Pope Francis I medium balcony - P 2013
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Pope Francis

In a wide-ranging interview, the new pontiff says he is a fan of Italian cinema's golden age and he would take a look at new films from Ettore Scola and Roberto Ando.

ROME – Pope Francis said this week he is an admirer of Italian films of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including works from Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini.

He also said he'd take a look at two films released this year suggested by an interviewer.

The pontiff gave a wide-ranging interview to Eugenio Scalfari, an 89-year-old atheist journalist from Rome's La Repubblica newspaper and one of the deans of Italy's press corps. The interview focused mostly on issues of spirituality and church reform, but it also touched upon cinema.

Francis mentioned adaptations of Alessandro Manzoni's classic novel I Promessi Sposi (most famously adapted for cinema by Mario Camerini with his 1941 drama The Spirit and the Flesh), Luchino Visconti's 1963 classic The Leopard (Il gattopardo), along with Orchestra Rehearsal (Prova d'orchestra) and La Strada from Fellini and Rome, Open City (Roma, Citta Aperta), the 1945 classic war drama from Rossellini -- he specifically mentioned Rome, Open City actor Aldo Fabrizi by name -- as films he enjoyed as the child of Italian immigrants in Argentina.

"I liked those movies because I watched most of them when I was young, with my parents," the pope said about the releases from Italian cinema's Golden Age.

Scalfari, a sometime film sector commentator, suggested two new films for the pope to watch: Ettore Scola's Fellini homage, How Strange to Call You Federico, Scola Talks About Fellini (Che strano chiamarsi Federico, Scola racconta Fellini), which earned strong reviews screening out of competition in Venice this year, and the political comedy Viva la liberta from Roberto Ando, one of the seven films shortlisted to become Italy's candidate for the Oscars. Earlier, during the Venice Film Festival, Scalfari had gone on record as a fan of the Scola film, saying it brought him to tears.

In a review from Toronto, where the film had its international premiere, The Hollywood Reporter critic Deborah Young called Scola's film a "charming [and] highly original tribute to Fellini."

Twitter: @EricJLyman