‘Fondation Fellini’: origins, purposes and future projects

Fellini Fondation is a non profit-making, state-approved organisation which operates within the Canton’s administrative framework. This Swiss-based cultural institution established in 2001 is located in Sion, capital city of the Swiss canton of Valais, on the southwest of Switzerland. Since 15 years ago the foundation has organised more than 70 events and exhibitions in Switzerland and worldwide. As part of its activities, academic courses and master classes for students on cinema are offered in partnership with the Lycée-Collège des Creusets (Sion). The Fellini Foundation owns the biggest collection dedicated to the Italian cinema director Federico Fellini (9’000 items) and more than hundred other well-known directors (6’000 items).


What is Fondation Fellini?

The Fellini Foundation was established on the 6th July 2001 by a board constituted with personalities in the field of culture, communication and economy. The professor Stéphane Marti is the president founder. The foundation is opened to researchers, university students, volunteers and both institutional and private partners.

Five years ago, thanks to the support of the City of Sion and the Bourgeoisie de Sion (a local public community) the Foundation opened its cultural center “La Maison du diable Cinéma & Culture visuelle”, located in Sion.

Among its activities must be appointed the editions (26 catalogues and monographs) and strong partnerships with institutions coming from the cultural scene (i.e. Béjart Ballet Lausanne, 2003, Johan de Meij 2015).

Internationally known, the Fellini Foundation established its network in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the United States.

What are its origins?

The idea of establishing a cultural foundation about Federico Fellini born out of a fortuitous meeting between the founder Stéphane Marti and Gérald Morin (former assistant of Maestro Fellini).

Over the 1990’s the two men met each other at the Cultural Council of the culture, where both worked as director of the Cinema Commission, Gérald Morin, and Stéphane Marti as director of the Literature Commission. Before working there, Gérald Morin had been assistant and private secretary of Federico Fellini for 7 years. A decade before this meeting Stéphane Marti at the age of 22 years interviewed Fellini in Rome in Teatro 5 at Cinecittà (on the set of E la Nave va) for the newspaper Questions of the Fribourg University in Switzerland.

Thanks to that meeting, Gérald Morin and Stéphane Marti discovered a common passion for Fellini. Supported by a strong and enthusiastic team of professionals they decided to establish in 1998 the Association Fellini located in the Lycée-Collège des Creusets (Sion) which contains a cinema room of 400 seats and 5 thousands of films. Gérald Morin donated the first part of his collection for one Swiss franc. This part was basically constituted by productions documents and press documents. At the beginning of 2001 Gérald Morin proposed to the Association to acquire the second part of his collection (posters, drawings, photographs, artefacts, etc.). In the last stage of the negotiation (April 2001) the president had to find in few weeks the money to acquire the second of the Morin’s collection trying by hook or by crook to save this huge patrimony. Thanks to Loterie Romande Valais and the Government of the Canton of Valais that gave the financial support the Fellini Foundation was established and become definitively the legal owner of this important collection.

The first important event-exhibition was organized in October 2003 at the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne, Fellini Maestro del cinema, with 800 documents and artefacts in world premiere in an area of 2’000 square metres. As part of this commemoration – the 10th anniversary of the death of Fellini, on 31 October, – Maurice Béjart and Gil Roman created two ballets in world premiere: Ciao Federico (Maurice Béjart) and Echographie d’une baleine (Gil Roman)

“It was an incredible success. It was the beginning of all the international activities made by Fellini Foundation, like the one at Festival de Cannes, or in Paris (Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume), in Venice (Mostra del cinema), in the Ludwig Foundation and Museum (Koblenz), in Brussel (European Economic and Social Committee), in Singapour (NTU)” said Stéphane Marti.

What about its cultural centre La Maison du diable?

The cultural centre La Maison du diable Cinéma et Culture visuelle is an historical and patrician residence whose name comes from an old local legend (the failure of the evil against the good people of Sion). The centre was established in 2011 with an international exhibition about the mythic film of Fellini: “Otto e mezzo”. This exhibition integrated the official program of Mostra del cinema in Venice (2012) and was presented in Vannucci Gallery in Milan. The center has offered an important cultural programm of exhibitions with international partners (Cinémathèque française, Cinémathèque suisse, Archivio storico del cinema di Roma, Musée de l’Elysée, Collection Loubeau, Museo nazionale della montagna, etc.) : Irréel – interrogeons le fantastique (2012), International Shootings Paris – Berlin – Hollywood 1910-1939 (2013), Fellini un artiste du XXe siècle (2013), Audrey Hepburn, itinéraire d’une étoile (2014), Stephanie Cornfield Nomadic Mirrors (2014), Cinéma des Cimes – Panorama des films de montagne (2015), Marion Stalens Portraits de cinéma & d’ailleurs (2015/16).

“Before the cultural centre was established, the Foundation had organized exhibitions in different centres and museums. After 10 years, we decided to set a Swiss-based cultural centre able to hold long-term exhibitions about Fellini and the cinema. In that way, the Foundation not only works in the international level, but it also has a stable exhibition near its offices”, said the director of the center Nicolas Rouiller.

The last cultural event organised by the centre was the photograph exhibition “Portraits de cinéma et d’ailleurs” of Marion Stalens. The exhibition was inaugurated by the photographer and visited recently by her sister and actress Juliette Binoche. The two artists stayed in Switzerland for two weeks, taking part of a cultural and tourism plan organised by Nicolas Rouiller and the Foundation in collaboration with Swiss ski station agency Sierre & Val d’Anniviers Tourism.

“We created cultural and touristic events which permitted us and the small city of Sion to be known worldwide”, said Nicolas Rouiller.

Which are its goals?

As declared by the president Stéphane Marti, the Foundation works in 4 directions: firstly, the conservation of the Fellini Collection. To do that, the Foundation has signed an agreement with the Cinémathèque Suisse to assure and protect the collection.

“If we aimed only to conserve such documents, it would be the death of them”, said the president.

Indeed, the second goal is the cultural education, academic research and mediation with the new generations. “We aim to give people an historical memory not only about Federico Fellini, but about the classic and contemporary cinema ”, said Stéphane Marti.

Thirdly, as an up-to-date Foundation, the board created interactive magazines and I-pad program used by visitors during the tour.

Lastly, economics remains a crucial goal in order to develop strong partnerships. The network of the Fellini Foundation included some events with corporations, for example Luxottica (2011 Exhibition in New York “Persol Magnificent obsessions”).

All together, the four directions explained are essential for the general purpose of “creating a modern institution opened to new generations which aims to spread Fellini knowledge and develop the dialogue between cultures.”

Which are its next projects?

Next up is an exhibition dedicated to the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. Set in La Maison du diable Cinéma et Culture visuelle from May to September, the exposition recalls the memory of the actor who passed away 20 years ago.

The director of the cultural centre Nicolas Rouiller mentioned also a photo exhibition of the French photographer Patrick Swirc, which will start in October. 

“Federico Fellini expresses a timeless message. His films are totally in step with the times. He speaks about freedom and fantasy. In a complicated and serious world as nowadays, Fellini gives people the chance to still dream in a better world, full of imagination and passion”, concluded the president Stéphane Marti.

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