8 posts tagged "Tribeca Film Festival"
The next Coppola force to be reckoned with—at least according to Zac Posen—Gia, granddaughter of Francis, niece of Sofia, has officially entered the family business with her debut feature film, Palo Alto, starring Emma Roberts and James Franco. Based on Franco’s book Palo Alto: Stories, the film follows a clique of disaffected high schoolers as they quietly booze and grind their way through the glory days. In advance of today’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Coppola found time to chat with Style.com about directing her mom, learning from her family, and incorporating her own closet into the shoot.
You met James Franco at a party in L.A. What’s it like meeting James Franco for the first time?
I had always been a big fan of his, and my mom had met him while I was in college. She was raving about how nice and intelligent he was. Then I was at a deli with some friends and I saw him there. Later that night I crashed some Hollywood party and I saw him, and my mom dragged him over and he remembered me from earlier that afternoon. He asked me about my photography, and we stayed in touch. I sent him all my photographs, and he sent me his book. He wanted to make it into a movie, long story short.
Does the world of Palo Alto have anything in common with your teen years?
Yes, emotionally, there’s that weird age where you’re too young to be an adult and too old to be a kid and you’re trying to figure out what you want.
Do you relate to the ennui?
I just remember that most of the time you’re looking for something to do, but usually in those moments you’re having the most fun when you’re hanging out in the parking lot and driving around.
What was it like directing your mother?
It was funny because she just kept spiking the camera at the end of every scene and looking at me to see if she did an OK job. It took a while to convince her to do it.
How would you describe your own film education?
I really learned a lot when I worked on my grandpa’s film Twixt and got to be with him start to finish and sit next to him every day. That was my film school.
What was the most valuable piece of advice your grandfather gave you?
He’s always spitting out these amazing quotes. Even just something as simple as eat your breakfast because you need sugar in the morning to get your brain thinking. And be open to your actors’ ideas because they know the characters better than you.
You worked on your aunt’s film Somewhere, in the costume department. How did that prepare you for making this project?
It was nice to just see how Sofia works and her own demeanor that is true to herself, and you don’t have to be this big, authoritative figure. I don’t think I would have thought about directing if I had not seen her do it as a young woman.
The tone and the palate of Palo Alto reminds me a little bit of Somewhere. Is that a coincidence?
Well, we’re of the same blood and I look up to her, so maybe I just can’t help but subconsciously kind of be influenced by her work.
I imagine it would be tricky to have such an amazing resource and not want to take advantage of it. Did you reach out to her?
It was really important for me to figure out my own voice and not feel influenced by anyone else’s opinions, so I really just kind of discussed it with James as my mentor. I didn’t want to kind of get pulled in many different directions—[I wanted to] figure out how to do this on my own.
How did you want to create the feel of high school with its fashion?
So many of the kids on television have really nice clothes, perfect skin and hair. I just really wanted to see a movie that felt authentic to what I observe when I’m watching teenagers out in public. Jack [Kilmer] has really awesome style to begin with, so he just kind of wore his clothes, and I used some of my clothes because we were low budget.
Which pieces of your clothes made it into the film?
Emma has some of my clothes. I wore that yellow vintage sweatshirt on set, and my mom was like, “That’d be a good sweater for Emma, yellow will look good on camera.” So I just took it off and put it on her.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing two different ideas, and I hope that maybe I can work with James again.
Are you thinking of teenagers?
I love the subject matter of teenagers, but next time around I’d like to try something different. Plus, I’m so attached to my teenagers from Palo Alto I can’t imagine working with anyone else.
Regarding Susan Sontag is a new documentary playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend and will air on HBO this fall. The film is an intimate look at the influential American writer, filmmaker, political activist, and cultural critic. Sontag is widely considered to be one of the most important, outspoken, and provocative thinkers of the 20th century. Her writings include novels, short stories, and film scripts, but she was best known for her critical essays that examined all kinds of social and artistic issues. Sadly, Sontag died of leukemia in 2004 at 71 years old, but her work still resonates today. Style.com spoke to the film’s director, Nancy Kates, about Sontag’s creative process and wide-ranging influence, and what inspired her to make the film.
What made you decide to make this film about Susan? I imagine that you have followed her work for a long time.
I was saddened by Sontag’s death in late 2004, which was also the year my father passed away. Sontag was a heroic figure to me in my youth. Like many smart young women in the 1980s, when I was 20 or so, I wanted to grow up to be like her—confidant, fearless, supersmart, and not willing to play second fiddle to men. I was always interested in what she had to say—I had the idea to make the film [when I was] at my office, and when I went home, I counted the Sontag books on my shelf. I had seven of the sixteen books she published in her lifetime, which seemed like a good sign, particularly because I read her purely out of interest and not because her work was assigned to me in a classroom setting. In some ways, this film is a look back from middle age at the person I was thirty years ago.
Susan’s writing was incredibly powerful, articulate, and candid. She also had a wide range of interests. What do you think her greatest passion was?
Critic Wayne Koestenbaum, who is interviewed in the film and served as one of our advisers, refers to Sontag as a “cosmophage”—someone who eats the world or consumes the world. It is probably not fair to single out one of her passions—she had passions for words; ideas; books; photographs and the realm of photography; her lovers, most of whom were women; and for more ordinary pleasures, such as Chinese food. Her work was a deep expression of most of those passions, though she hid her sexuality, which, ironically, probably limited her ability to write fiction. Interviewed about her historical novel The Volcano Lover, in 1992, Sontag told a journalist, “I’m interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up.”
Which one of your interview subjects offered the most insight into Susan’s creative process?
I think it is unsporting to play favorites among the interviewees, but Don Levine, who spent a long time as a sort of unpaid editor and writing collaborator, was extremely helpful in describing the long stretches of work they did together on Death Kit and Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings, which they edited together, though Sontag is the sole editor on the cover of the book. So many of our interviewees are also writers; they are speaking about Sontag through their own experiences writing on other subjects.
How do you think Susan was able to be both an influential critic and a sort of celebrity?
Sontag was unique in American letters, in that she had a mind that would not quit, and was also very beautiful, which was part of her appeal and partly why she became so famous, though I think she also sought fame in a way that had been unfashionable among the previous generation, i.e., the writers of the 1950s and early sixties. Like many people who become famous, she craved that sort of public attention, and needed it, in certain ways. I don’t know that she would have had the celebrity without the looks, even though it pains me to say so. She was also willing to be a bit outrageous in her public statements, such as the one she made during the Vietnam War: “The white race is the cancer of human history.” Through sheer force of personality—and considerable brainpower—Sontag made sure that she was not going to be dismissed or condescended to because of her gender, managing to avoid the sort of treatment that most women in the public eye experienced in the 1960s and seventies, and sometimes even today.
While he hasn’t yet been at the house for two years, Raf Simons already has his own Dior documentary. Dubbed Dior et Moi and directed by Frédéric Tcheng (who also worked on Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Valentino: The Last Emperor), the flick chronicles Simons’ first couture collection for the storied brand, which walked down the runway in 2012. Seeing as the doc is set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, we’re curious to know if Chanel will be inviting the cast to its annual film fest bash.
HBO’s forthcoming documentary The Battle of amfAR won’t air until December, but its debut screening at the Tribeca Film Festival last night certainly managed to draw a crowd, with Uma Thurman, Harry Belafonte, and Fern Mallis all coming out in support. Mallis—a founding board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS—told Style.com that she remembered giving amfAR one of DIFFA’s first grants, back in the eighties, to buy a refrigerator. These days, amfAR can afford its own iceboxes. It’s also evolved into one of the world’s leading funders of AIDS research, and the charity’s work and donations have made many new therapies available. And, of course, it’s amassed an impressive roster of celebrity endorsers—heck, Sarah Jessica Parker chaired its New York City gala in February.
But one mustn’t forget amfAR’s first famous patron, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. The Battle of amfAR chronicles Taylor’s work with clinician Dr. Mathilde Krim in mobilizing during the early days of HIV. In the film’s opening moments, Taylor addresses a congressional committee on the burgeoning AIDS crisis. In a voice-over, the late actress explains that she watched as, one by one, her friends grew ill. “And so I thought, Bitch, do something!”
After the film, Kenneth Cole moderated a Q&A with Krim and amfAR CEO Kevin Frost. Krim, now 86, received a standing ovation as she took the stage. Cole asked if she has ever felt hopeless in what seems to be a never-ending battle. Said Krim: “No. I’ve never felt like throwing in the towel. From the very beginning, my feelings, my anxieties, my hope are the same as they are today. Is that a good answer?”