Director Francis Ford Coppola was greeted with a standing ovation in Milan where he was invited to speak about his family’s history in Italy. He spoke for 30 minutes on his great-grandparents and his grandparents who migrated to America, where he was born.
“My mother would always say to me, ‘Francis, you’re so lucky, because you’re American. And America is the greatest country in the world.’ And my father would say, ‘Yes, but Francis, you’re also Italian. And the Italians are the greatest people in the world, the most creative,'” he said to great applause.
He was also there to promote his hotel, the Palazzo Margherita, in the village of Bernalda in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy, where he says it’s possible to experience the real Italy outside of the common touristic trips to Rome or Venice.
He opened the floor to questions, speaking on everything from how film could solve the world’s problems to the perception of the Mafia in Italy to music as the purest of art forms. Coppola was naturally asked how Italians, who once led the fields of music, science and the arts, could be great once more.
“Italy developed one problem. But it was understandable, because the Italians can do everything, in every field from science to art. The only thing they have a little difficulty doing is to tell the truth,” explained Coppola to much laughter. “The great thing Italy could do with all your gifts, if everyone made a vow that they would tell the truth, suddenly your politics would be perfect.”
“And it’s not so hard to tell the truth,” he continued. “All you have to realize is that when someone asks you a question, you tell the truth. If it’s an embarrassing question, you just say, ‘I’m not obligated. That’s an inappropriate question.’ If they say ‘Oh, am I beautiful?’ or ‘Am I thin?’ or ‘Did you sleep with him?’ ‘That’s an inappropriate question.’ But you don’t have to lie! Lying is bad.”
Coppola was also asked about the current refugee problem sweeping Europe.
“The solution to migration is stop everyone shooting everyone and having wars and destroying beautiful cities like Aleppo,” he said, also to loud applause.
“The world has to — including the United States, by far — has to cough up a lot of money and ask Greece and these countries and the Balkans to receive these people so that they can have a chance to take a breath,” he expressed. “It’s going to take a lot of money, but it is required. It’s a big economic problem, and the world has to pay for it. This is an obscenity.”
And continuing on the topic of politics, asked if he would ever retire to Italy if someone like Trump were elected president he responded, “No, America is incredibly great, believe me.”