Italian auteur is feted by MOMA

Jonathan Demme called Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist,” which opened the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective Dec. 15, “the most original film ever made. He’s what I aspire to and never reach.”

The retrospective gala also brought out Debra Winger, who said working with Bertolucci on “The Sheltering Sky” was simply life changing. “Any film that helps to transform your life is seminal. I never saw anything the same after that,” she said, accompanied by her son, Noah Hutton.

According to MoMA curator Jytte Jensen, the 70-year-old filmmaker “has come out of a very hard time health-wise. When I met him in Rome in February, he said, ‘I would like to walk into the cinema, but even if I have to roll myself in there I will come.’”

Bertolucci, pain-free after several back operations, made good on his promise and arrived at the Gotham event in a wheelchair. He’s been invigorated by the retrospective which, thanks to Cinecitta Luce and energy company eni, offers new prints of his 17 feature films.

“I change physically but something didn’t change, my passion for cinema. It’s still very hot,” Bertolucci told Variety. “Until a few months ago, I thought I was finished and wouldn’t do any more movies. I was looking for a quiet retirement, but no more. I will do a movie next summer. It’s a story of a coming of age of a 15-year-old boy in Rome today.”

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