The three Academy Awards, the first in 2005 for Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, the second in 2008 for Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, and the third for Scorsese’s Hugo, arrived after fifteen years of nominations, have represented for Dante Ferretti a true recognition both in Hollywood and world cinema. In fact, together with set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo (who has worked beside him since Liliana Cavani’s The Skin in 1981), he has given shape to Fellini’s dreams and actualised the ideas of directors such as Scorsese, Burton, Cavani, Marco Ferreri and Terry Gilliam. The 16 Oscars nominations have added to his haul of prizes from around the world, among others, three BAFTA Awards and four David di Donatello Awards. The Italian press has honoured him with 12 Silver Ribbons over almost 25 years － from Fellini’s City of Women(1980), And the Ship Sails On(1984), Ginger and Fred (1986), to the triumph of The Name of the Rose (1987), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1990), The Age of the Innocence (1994), Interview with the Vampire (1995), Casino (1997), Bringing Out the Dead and Titus (2000), Gangs of New York (2003), to the Special Ribbon Award for The Aviator (2006) as well as for The Black Dahlia (2007). His love for the set was born at the age of 13, watching the peplum and great Hollywood films such as Henry Kostner’s The Robe. Ferretti once said, “When I heard the word production designer, I was thunderstruck.”
Born in Macerata in 1943, he started his career in 1969 with Medea by Pier Paolo Pasolini. He was one of Fellini’s most faithful collaborators, with whom he had worked on six films. Whilst recalling his collaborations with many great auteurs － among them, Bellocchio, Scola, Ferreri, Zeffirelli, Ferretti has many times underlined that he has learnt a lot from all of them. “According to Fellini I was meant to become an actor, I tried to be like him, he taught me to tell lies; whereas Pasolini had led me, in the eight films created together, to become acquainted with the whole of his world.”
In the mid-1980s, Ferretti began working on international sets. It was in 1986 when he collaborated with director Jean-Jacques Annaud on The Name of the Rose, which was adapted from Umberto Eco’s novel of the same name. In 1989 and 1990, together with Francesca Lo Schiavo, he received two Oscars nominations for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Terry Gilliam and Amleto by Franco Zeffirelli. He made his debut in Hollywood with Martin Scorsese, whom he had met a few years earlier on the set of Fellini’s film, City of Women. Later, the production designer became one of Scorsese’s indispensable collaborators in eight films, including The Age of the Innocence, Shutter Island and Hugo － the first film in 3D for the cineaste. Once again, with Schiavo working alongside him, they were awarded the prestigious SNGCI’s Pietro Bianchi Award. “All my successes also belong to her (Schiavo) who, in spite of the goals achieved together, has always made me keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. She is a decorator of great talent and exquisite taste for the details. This is why perfectionist directors like Martin Scorsese adores her. I will not pay her any further compliments as the prizes she has been awarded speak for themselves.”
Among other challenges, Ferretti was entrusted with designing Cinecittà World in Rome － the first Italian theme park dedicated to cinema, which represents a synthesis between culture, cinema and entertainment. Furthermore, Dante Ferretti was also involved with establishing the new Museum of Federico Fellini in Rimini.
“To create a trophy which was genuinely respectful not only of the origins of cinema’s history, a memory that MUST NOT be forgotten, but also of its future.”