FAM­ILY TIES

As part of one of HOL­LY­WOOD’S most ICONIC film dy­nas­ties, Sofia Cop­pola is sur­rounded by TAL­ENT. But, with the RE­LEASE of her NEW flick, it’s HER who’s LEAD­ING the pack.

Collective Hub - - FILM - WORDS JAMES MOTTRAM

It’s a week into Cannes Film Fes­ti­val when Sofia Cop­pola ar­rives for our in­ter­view, hav­ing just won best di­rec­tor – only the sec­ond woman to be given that hon­our in the event’s 70-year his­tory. It’s the fourth time she’s pre­miered a film at the iconic fes­ti­val, af­ter her 1999 de­but The Vir­gin Sui­cides, the much-maligned 2006 biopic Marie An­toinette and 2013’s The Bling Ring. This year she’s back with her new film, The Beguiled.

“It’s al­ways ex­cit­ing and nervewrack­ing,” she says, sport­ing a black-and­white dress buttoned to the col­lar. “I re­mem­ber com­ing as a lit­tle kid, so I have sen­ti­men­tal feel­ings to­wards be­ing here.”

“Com­ing as a lit­tle kid” was a lit­tle more than sim­ply hol­i­day­ing on the French Riviera. It meant ac­com­pa­ny­ing her fa­ther – cin­e­matic gi­ant Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola – when his mas­ter­piece Apoca­lypse Now jointly won the cov­eted Palme d’Or. She later worked with him, act­ing in films such as Peggy Sue Got Mar­ried and The God­fa­ther III, and even co-writ­ing ‘Life Without Zoe’, Fran­cis’ seg­ment of the movie an­thol­ogy New York Sto­ries, all be­fore she was 18.

Now 46, Sofia – with her soft brown hair and gen­tle smile – has be­come the driv­ing force be­hind one of Hol­ly­wood’s most dynamic film-mak­ing dy­nas­ties. To­gether with her brother Ro­man, she co-owns Amer­i­can Zoetrope, the pro­duc­tion com­pany founded by her fa­ther (who is now 78) and Ge­orge Lu­cas. She won an Os­car for best orig­i­nal screen­play for her sec­ond movie, Lost In Trans­la­tion, be­fore be­com­ing the first Amer­i­can fe­male to win Venice’s Golden Lion with 2010’s Some­where.

But while The Beguiled has a nearly all-fe­male cast – headed by a re­gal Ni­cole Kid­man, along­side Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fan­ning – Sofia isn’t de­lib­er­ately pin­ning fem­i­nist colours to her mast.

“I just do sto­ries that in­ter­est me,” she says, “and I’m in­ter­ested in fe­male char­ac­ters be­cause I con­nect more to that.”

Exquisitely shot, the film is based on the 1966 out-of-print novel by Thomas Cul­li­nan, that was adapted in 1971 by Don Siegel for a movie star­ring Clint East­wood. Set dur­ing the Amer­i­can civil war, the film fol­lows a wounded Union sol­dier who finds shel­ter at an all-girls’ school and be­comes an un­set­tling pres­ence. (The movie was shot over 26 days on a Louisiana plan­ta­tion that was also the back­drop for Bey­oncé’s vis­ual al­bum Le­mon­ade.)

It was Sofia’s pro­duc­tion de­signer Anne Ross who first sug­gested she take a look at The Beguiled.

“I would never think of re­mak­ing a film, but when I saw the film it re­ally stayed in my mind,” she says. “I thought it was so in­ter­est­ing. It was the story of a sol­dier go­ing into a woman’s world, a girls’ school. And I thought, ‘I’d love to see that story told from the point of view of the women, and what it must’ve been like for them and be­ing cut off dur­ing wartime.’ I don’t think I’ve seen a film [set] dur­ing the war about the women left be­hind.”

While Sofia wasn’t the only fe­male di­rec­tor in com­pe­ti­tion at Cannes this year – Ja­pan’s Naomi Kawase and Scot­land’s Lynne Ram­say were also present – she be­lieves it’s vi­tal that gen­der imbalance is ar­rested in film-mak­ing. >

I THINK that with all dif­fer­ent POINTS of VIEW… we want to see as MANY as we can on FILM and re­flect our CUL­TURE.

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