Deauville 2011: Francis Ford Coppola Talks Technology, Twixt and Timidity

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The filmmaker is the guest of honor at the 37th annual film festival this year.

Francis Ford Coppola made Deauville American Film Festival audiences an offer they couldn’t refuse on Saturday with a “conversation” about his prolific film career. The renowned director is the guest of honor at this year’s fest and declared the 37th annual event open on Friday night before spending some quality time in the seaside town. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the legendary movie mogul, who shared his thoughts on his career, French cinema and how being a lonely little boy turned him into one of the world’s most acclaimed directors.

On why he became a filmmaker: "I always had a good imagination. I was a lonely kid. I went to the theater department because I was good with electronics and I knew there were girls around. Maybe being the kid that everyone ignored and being good at technical things and being curious about girls – all of those conditions must make you into a movie director. I don’t really understand it myself."

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On the origin of his upcoming film Twixt: "Around a year and a half ago, I was at a film festival somewhere where everyone was talking about Avatar and 3D film. I was very interested in 3D in the 1950s and for awhile it was considered to be the solution to get people into theaters and, well, that never really happened. Even Hitchcock made a 3D film that was never released. The cinema has a lot up its sleeve. I began to think about what the cinema hasn’t done yet. I thought: live cinema hasn’t really been expressed. In a way, the theater is trying to become the cinema and vice versa. I like to think of cinema as something that can be performed for an audience."

On what moviegoers can expect from Twixt: "It’s an archaic word that means between a dream and reality, between day and night, between good and evil. It’s a film in the tradition of gothic romance. It’s an unusual film that doesn’t fall into an easy category. It’s part gothic romance, part personal film. It’s a film that I am anxious to present to the public. I like the film a lot and I find it very unusual."

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On the influence of French cinema on his career: "My generation was in a wonderful and unique situation. In the late 1950s, we still had the greatness of the Hollywood studio systems, but we also had the influence of world cinema – the New Wave, great Italian films from the post-war period, and films from Scandinavian and Japanese tradition. All of this was sandwiched between the U.S. studio system. We were doubly exhilarated. Today, we still have a great tradition of independent cinema in the U.S. with people like Wes Anderson, David O. Russell or hey, a young filmmaker named Woody Allen. Filmmakers in France have always been so free in both form and subject matter and we have all benefited from this double influence. France is the world’s most enthusiastic audience."

On succeeding as an independent filmmaker: "I’ve found it easier to make money and be my own patron than go to with my hat and beg to make a film. I’m so proud of my daughter and my family for continuing the tradition of making personal films."

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On digital cinema: "My daughter Sofia for example won’t make a movie unless its on real film. I know that young people are attached to tradition and are interested in making movies with real film because they know it won’t be around forever. There’s no doubt in my mind that, in five years, the great majority of film will be shot in the digital format, no matter how sad that is. Since I am old, I want to make films using the new technology in the digital format, which is improving every day by enormous proportions."

On his vast influence on cinema: "I’m a very shy person. I don’t feel comfortable feeling too important."