Marco Ferreri dies at 69

Italian film director showed flashes of the human spirit

Italian film director Marco Ferreri, who explored human folly and perversion with such films as “La Grande Bouffe,” about people eating themselves to death, died Friday of a heart attack in a Paris hospital. He was 69.

“The Italian cinema has lost one of its most original artists, one of its most personal authors,” said Gilles Jacob of the Cannes Film Festival. “No one was more demanding nor more allegorical than he in showing the state of crisis of contemporary man. The Cannes Film Festival, which screened eight of his films and gave three of them prizes, will not forget him.”

Ferreri’s 1973 satire “La Grande Bouffe,” about a group of wealthy friends who literally eat and drink themselves to death in an orgiastic blowout, skewered the folly of a society with nothing left but consumerism. It starred Marcello Mastroianni, who also starred in Ferreri’s “Liza,” and Michel Piccoli.

Ferreri’s works also included “La Casa del Sorriso” (House of Smiles), about love and sex in an old people’s home. It won a Golden Bear award for best picture at the Berlin Film Festival in 1991.

Ferreri once said the cinema was a place where society could forget its divisions.

“The cinema has always been a place open to everyone,” he said. “When the cinema arrived, for a few cents, people who were rich or poor finally found themselves laughing and crying together.”

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