Scarlett Johansson

Venice Flashback: After 20 Years, the Fest’s Love Affair With Sofia Coppola Continues

The writer-director was first invited to the festival with the second feature she directed, 2003’s 'Lost in Translation,' and won the Golden Lion seven years later for 'Somewhere.' She returns this year with 'Priscilla.'

The Venice International Film Festival has had something of a long-standing love affair with Sofia Coppola.

The writer-director was first invited to the festival with the second feature she directed, 2003’s Lost in Translation, which starred Bill Murray and a then 18-year-old Scarlet Johansson as two wanderers who strike up a friendship in a Tokyo hotel bar. Johansson later recalled, “I’d never had that kind of movie star experience [before], of walking up the steps at a big film festival.”

Just seven years later, Venice invited Coppola back for the world premiere of her feature Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff as an actor holed up in the Chateau Marmont as he experiences an existential life crisis. The film was awarded the fest’s top prize, the Golden Lion, which was presented to Coppola by that year’s jury chairman, Quentin Tarantino, who happened to be an ex-boyfriend of hers. When some raised charges of favoritism, Tarantino was quick to respond that Somewhere “enchanted us from the first. Being her friend didn’t affect me or make me sway the jury in any way. The other members of the jury … just loved the film. We kept coming back to it, as one of us said, because ‘it’s a great fucking movie,’ all right?”

This year, Coppola will unveil A24’s Priscilla, an account of Elvis Presley’s courtship and marriage to the young Priscilla Beaulieu. The film has secured a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement that will allow its stars, Jacob Elordi (Euphoria) and Cailee Spaeny (Mare of Easttown), to walk the red carpet with Coppola.

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