ROME, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Cinema lovers, young and old, flocked Monday to hear legendary American director Martin Scorsese talk about films at a sold-out event at the Rome Film Festival, where he was hailed by two standing ovations.
People stood in line for hours before packing a 1,133-seat hall to experience first-hand the director of seminal films such as Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Goodfellas, to name just a few.
The Oscar-winning director, who turns 77 in November and whose grandparents emigrated from Sicily to New York in 1910, showed sequences from nine Italian films that influenced him as a young man, then regaled the public with his thoughts on how Italian Neorealism "changed his life."
"When I was five years old we had a little TV, and the Neorealist films were shown," Scorsese recalled.
"Here was this other world, that was created on celluloid, but they didn't seem like films to me. We existed with these films, they were a part of our life, and were spoken about as if they were imminently real, in New York at that moment," he said.
Scorsese explained that he grew up in a tough neighborhood in New York, and that when he first saw Pasolini's 1961 drama Accattone, which starred non-professional actors playing petty criminals and the working poor "it was a shock, because I understood the people, I knew them (from my own life)."
Italian Neorealist cinema "gave me another aspect of what film could be," Scorsese said. For example, he said, Roberto Rossellini's way of "stripping away to the essentials cleared my way to make Raging Bull and King of Comedy, and I always go back to that way of thinking."
Scorsese also said that Michelangelo Antonioni "taught me that composition is narrative. He takes the usual narrative forms -- plot, narrative -- and then takes them away. Like Ingmar Bergman did with Persona, he redefined cinematic language."
He said that watching Antonioni's 1960 movie L'Avventura (The Adventure) over and over taught him "to see and experience cinema differently."
The enigmatic tale about a young woman whose best friend mysteriously disappears during a boating trip in the Mediterranean made actress Monica Vitti an international star.
Scorsese also praised Luchino Visconti's 1963 film The Leopard, starring Claudia Cardinale, Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon, which he described as "a major influence on Raging Bull."
"What we have here is a film that has a deliberately meditative and very firm pace combined with very lush frames," said Scorsese, adding that he was struck by "how the music matches the actual movement of the actors in the frame."
After the talk, celebrated Italian director Paolo Taviani gave Scorsese a Lifetime Achievement award, and the two masters, who are also old friends, hugged each other to cheers and thunderous applause from the audience.
The Rome Film Festival runs through Oct. 28.