“I Peed on Fellini”
I’m currently reading David Stratton’s autobiography, “I Peed on Fellini”. His life doesn’t really seem that exciting (apparently on the advice of friends, he took out most of the sex. I’m not sure whether I should be annoyed or grateful) and his descriptions of his interactions with the great directors of previous eras, beyond the titular incident, haven’t yet gone passed the depth of “I met Godard, we talked briefly”, which is a real shame. What’s the opinion of Stratton as to how the personalities of the directors he met affected the films they made? It would have been nice to know.
What is interesting is seeing the growth of the Sydney Film Festival, which he directed for 17 years, and his fights against censorship. Before his protests censorship was simply seen as the norm in Australia, and the changes he brought about helped get Australia out of the middle-ages mentality it was in. Previously, festival audiences weren’t even informed that cuts had been made, something that sounds completely ridiculous now.
Check out this story from the book that highlights just how silly the censors were (and probably still are) about screening Luchino Visconti’s film “Sandra” to the censorship board:
Although I hadn’t seen Sandra I knew its content and I was rather nervous because I hadn’t included in the synopsis, which I was obliged to send to the censors’ office prior to the screening, the fact that incest was involved. At the climax of the film, a brother and sister (played by Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel) engaged in discreet sex (just off-screen) on a woollen rug in front of a blazing fire in a sequence well in keeping with Visconti’s operatic modern take on Greek mythology. How would Prowse and his colleagues react to the incest scene, even though it was very tactfully presented? I soon found out. After the screening, Prowse took me to one side ‘You film festival people are a strange lot,’ he said. ‘You like films no-one else can understand. Didn’t you find that confusing? I thought, at the beginning, they were brother and sister.’ The film was passed, without cuts.