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CANNES 2009 Directors’ Fortnight

Coppola: Tetro, My Most Personal Film

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Coppola: Tetro, My Most Personal Film

Say no to screening out of competition in the Official Selection - “If I’m going to be at the festival at all, I want to be in competition” – and recoup with a bow in The Directors’ Fortnight section : it’s like saying you’ll happily forgo all the glamour and the glitter and opt for independence and restraint. And this is just what Francis Ford Coppola has done with Tetro [+see also:
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- produced by American Zoetrope (his production company), BIM Distribuzione (Italy), Magik Media Entertainment (United States), and Tornasol Films (Spain). The result, far from the ‘major’ crowd, is a very personal film that throws the rivalries and conflicts of a family of Italian-Argentine emigrants into sharp relief.

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The wholesome young man Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) sets off for Buenos Aires to search for his older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo), who had run away to seek his fortune years before, to get out from under his father’s thumb – his father being (Klaus Maria Brandauer), a famous conductor.

"In all my years as a filmmaker, this is only my third original screenplay, » the director says, « which makes it very important to me, since I’ve always given great weight to screenplays. In fact, for my film titles I have always insisted on 'Mario Puzo's The Godfather', or 'Bram Stoker's Dracula', attributing the true authorship of the film to the person who wrote the story, in the the hopes of one day being able to write "Coppola's film'".

Written while the director was editing Youth Without Youth [+see also:
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film profile
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, for Coppola this film is a hymn to creative freedom, into which he has managed to inject much of his own life, while actually putting in none of it at all, as he admits when he declares, « Nothing you see in the film really happened, but it is all true».

Filmed in black and white for the scenes set in the present, and in colour for the flashbacks, Tetro was initially supposed to star Matt Dillon in the role of the main character, with Javier Bardem in the role of his mentor, but the latter role underwent a sex change when Bardem pulled out and was replaced by actress Carmen Maura instead.

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