Rome Film Fest: David Lynch Remembers Federico Fellini

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images
David Lynch and Federico Fellini

The great Italian director welcomed Lynch into his Roman world.

Fresh off of the success of his Twin Peaks revival, David Lynch will be honored with the Rome Film Fest's Lifetime Achievement Award on Nov. 4 at its 12th edition. Director Paolo Sorrentino will present him with the award onstage, while Lynch will be feted with a special dinner gala at the Accademia di Francia afterward.

Romans are already lining up to see the American maestro. Lynch will meet with festival attendees at a special sold-out "close encounter," where he'll discuss some of his previous films, as well as a few of his own top titles. 

Lynch is no stranger to Italy, and has visited frequently over the years to absorb the local cinema. It's no secret that Federico Fellini’s is one of his all-time favorites, and the Italian director's influences can be seen throughout cinema today. Fellini still holds the record for directing the most foreign-language Oscar winners with four wins. 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Lynch recalls his own meetings with Fellini more than 30 years ago in his favorite spot in the world: Studio 5 at Cinecitta.

What is your favorite scene in ?

I just love the whole film together. I love the feel of it and I love Fellini’s take on cinema and life. It’s one of those beautiful things you can’t put into words. It’s the world he creates and it’s unique and powerful and so beautiful to me and to so many other people. 

What do you have in common with Federico Fellini?

We have the same birthday. I think it’s a love of abstractions. Cinema is a beautiful language that can tell both beautiful abstractions and concrete things.

Who is your Marcello Mastroianni?

I don’t know about that, but I met Marcello. He told many, many stories. One of them: He said he slept in the same bed with his mother until he was 35. He was a momma’s boy. I think he was joking, but who knows.

I met him at dinner and the next day he sent his car and his driver to me and they drove me to Cinecitta to spend the day with Fellini there. He was shooting Intervista.

I spent the day sitting quietly and watching him work. He had so much fun about the whole thing. It’s supposed to be that way. We talked from time to time. He took me to lunch outside during a break with a girl who had breasts the size of footballs.

Did you meet Fellini again?

I met him a second time in '93. On a Friday night he was in the hospital and I went with Tonino delli Colli, whom I met years before that time at Cinecitta. Only a small group of people was allowed in to see him. Fellini was in a wheelchair between two beds. There was a little table in front of him. And I sat in front of him and I held his hands. He was telling me how sad he was with the state of cinema. He used to have a coffee outside for breakfast and students would come up and talk to him every morning about cinema and then fewer and fewer came over the years and they weren’t talking about cinema anymore. Two days later he went into a coma and he died two weeks later.

Is there anything from neorealism in Twin Peaks?

They say keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole. I’m just doing my thing.

What about those Monica Bellucci dreams?

Who wouldn’t like Monica Bellucci? I don’t dream about her. Gordon Cole does. She’s what they call an Italian bombshell.

If you were give carte blanche to shoot anything you wanted to in Rome, what would you shoot there?

The thing is I go by ideas, so if I got an idea for a scene that took place in Rome than I would go find that location. So I don’t have that idea. I just like being there and sometimes when you’re in a place ideas come, so you never know. But I do love the Roman pines. I think they’re the most beautiful trees.

If Fellini were alive today what would you say to him?

I want to see your next film.