Excerpted fromFederico Fellini: His Life and Workby Tullio Kezich. Copyright 2002 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Published in March 2006 by Faber and Faber, Inc. All rights reserved. Introduction: September 1952, on the Terrace of the Hotel des Bains There was some trepidation on my part at my first encounter with Federico Fellini. I knew his name and I'd likedLuci del varieta(Variety Lights, 1950)but I had assumed that it had been conceived of and written by codirector Alberto Lattuada, and that newcomer Fellini's name had only been added to the credit out of friendship, or for contractual reasons. The truth is that I was a little perplexed by the boundless ambition of this screenwriter who wanted to become a director. I thought the qualifications for the job of film director (an undertaking later characterized by Fellini himself as "Christopher Columbus trying to command a crew that just wants to turn back") included the indispensable but loathsome ability to "assume authority"as it would have been described under fascism. I couldn't see how such an attitude was consonant with a writer's temperament. The meeting had been arranged by the actor Leopoldo Trieste, a mutual friend, during the 1952 Venice Film Festival on the terrace of the Hotel des Bains (immortalized by Thomas Mann inDeath in Venice). Federico had probably preferred this hotel to the more sumptuous Excelsior because it looks like the Grand Hotel in his hometown of Rimini, a reminder of his childhood. Or maybe his troupe hadn't been considered VIP enough for the grander hotel. We met on September 7, the day after the screening ofLo sceicco bianco(The White Sheik), which didn't do badly with the public, though the critical mood seemed to suggest that nothing particularly favorable was forthcoming. Gathered around the thirty-two-year-old director that day on the terrace was a little group of people in wicker armchairs. There was constant coming and going and I don't remember exactly what anyone was talking about, but once I'd insinuated myself, I felt as if I were a new member of a merry fraternity. I suddenly felt lighthearted and relaxed, like (to use another typical Fellini expression) Pinocchio among the puppetsor like Jim Hawkins inTreasure Island: among the pirates who tell "sailor tales in sailor tunes." Federico was still skinny back then and wore his hair long over his neck. I remember thinking something wasoffat our first encounter. Maybe he was trying to make me feel that way, with those mannerisms I later came to recognize as the director's own quirkssideways glances, pauses, that almost imperceptible smirk. We discussed the Italian films in competition that year and I was somewhat embarrassed to be talking about these particular films with the person who'd written them allfrom Pietro Germi'sIl brigante di Tacca del Lupo(The Bandit of Tacca del Lupo) to Roberto Rossellini'sEuropa '51. The brashness of youth led me to admit that both pictures had left me cold. And Federico replied that the major defect of film critics was how abstract we were. Then he expressed the utmost solidarity for Germi: "Where thebersaglierislither up the mountainside like wormswasn't that a wonderful scene? But more important, you can tell it comes from a true story. Amedeo Nazzari's character is based on one of Tullio Pinelli's relatives..." When the conversation turned to Rossellini, Fellini's tone changed from respect to devotion: "I like everything he does. I always like him." By declariKezich, Tullio is the author of 'Federico Fellini His Life And Work', published 2007 under ISBN 9780865479616 and ISBN 0865479615.