On 31 October, thirty years ago, Federico Fellini dies. A state funeral is held in Rome and a funeral chamber is set up in Studio 5 at Cinecittà. The entire film world, from directors to extras, from actors to workers, paid homage to the artist that everyone in that immense 400 square metre shed called the ‘lighthouse’. On the evening of 3 November, Fellini made his final journey back to Rimini, where a second funeral chamber was set up in the column room of the Galli theatre. The next day, the city rallied around “that boy from Rimini whom the whole world will admire” as Sergio Zavoli said, in a packed Piazza Cavour, during the funeral oration.
Twenty thousand people from Rimini accompanied the coffin on its journey from Piazza Cavour to the cemetery, a swaying tide that continued to applaud and embrace “the Rimini boy who returned to the Borgo”, accompanying him step by step along his places of memory.
There are two obligatory stops for the procession before arriving at the cemetery, one in front of the Fulgor cinema where Fellini had discovered the seventh art as a child, and the other in that corner of the historic centre where the bridge fades into the Borgo.
Thirty years later, the city of Rimini pays tribute to the “universal dimension of that mourning” with an exhibition entitled “Rimini 1993-2023: Fellini’s funeral in the unpublished images of Marco Pesaresi”, curated by Mario Beltrambini and Jana Liskova and realised by the Municipality of Rimini in collaboration with the Municipality of Savignano sul Rubicone and the Savignano Immagini association.
The exhibition presents the 30 selected images – of the over 240 that make up the entire reportage – of Federico Fellini’s funeral taken by photographer Marco Pesaresi, who was present that day and was ready to recount through images the Maestro’s last visit to his Rimini. Images that have only recently come to light and that today allow even the youngest audience to appreciate the significance of Rimini’s farewell to the Maestro thirty years ago.
“The day of the funeral was grey and rainy,” commented exhibition curators Mario Beltrambini and Jana Liskova, “as if the sky itself wept along with all of Rimini, which had come to bid farewell to Federico Fellini. In the midst of this melancholic atmosphere, Marco Pesaresi was present. With his camera, he captured the essence of that moment, the palpable emotion that pervaded the air and the collective emotion of the city in mourning. Through these photographs, Marco documented not only the event itself, but also the resilience and strength of the community in its darkest hour”.
Marco Pesaresi’s photographs documenting Federico Fellini’s last farewell were kept for thirty years in his archives, far from the eyes of the public and the world. Only recently, after a long time, have these precious images come back to light. The opening of the Pesaresi archives has made it possible to bring those touching and historic moments back to life. The images can now tell a new and ancient story at the same time, offering a window on the past and its rediscovery, adding a significant chapter to Pesaresi’s visual narrative and its indelible impact on Rimini and its homeland.