Its title refers to Fellini's eighth and a half film as a director. His previous directorial work consisted of six features, two short segments, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, the latter three productions accounting for a "half" film each.
8½ won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white). Acknowledged as avant-garde and a highly influential classic, it was ranked third best film of all time in a 2002 poll of film directors conducted by the British Film Institute and is also listed on the Vatican's compilation of the 45 best films made before 1995, the 100th anniversary of cinema.
The plot: Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director, is suffering from "director's block". Stalled on his new science fiction film that includes veiled autobiographical references, he has lost interest amid artistic and marital difficulties. As Guido struggles half-heartedly to work on the film, a series of flashbacks and dreams delve into his memories and fantasies; they are frequently interwoven with reality.
- Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a film director
- Anouk Aimée as Luisa Anselmi, Guido's wife
- Rossella Falk as Rossella, Luisa's best friend and Guido's confidante
- Sandra Milo as Carla, Guido's mistress
- Claudia Cardinale as Claudia, a movie star Guido casts as his Ideal Woman
- Guido Alberti as Pace, a film producer
- Mario Conocchia as Mario Conocchia, Guido's production assistant
- Bruno Agostini as Bruno Agostini, the production director
- Cesarino Miceli Picardi as Cesarino, the production supervisor
- Jean Rougeul as Carini Daumier, a film critic
- Mario Pisu as Mario Mezzabotta, Guido's friend
- Barbara Steele as Gloria Morin, Mezzabotta's new young girlfriend
- Madeleine LeBeau as Madeleine, a French actress
- Caterina Boratto as a mysterious lady in the hotel
- Eddra Gale as La Saraghina, a prostitute
- Eugene Walter as an American journalist