SOFIA’S MILESTONE: Porter magazine is continuing its “Incredible Women” talk series, celebrating inspiring women from different walks of life. Its latest guest was director Sofia Coppola, who joined the magazine’s editor in chief Lucy Yeomans and features director Vassi Chamberlain on Tuesday to talk about her journey to date.
The talk was preceded by a private screening of Coppola’s new film, “The Beguiled,” which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and won her the best director award, making her the second woman in the festival’s 71-year history to be given the award.
Coppola spoke about her inspiration for the film, which aimed to reimagine Thomas P. Cullinan’s book and Don Siegel’s 1971 movie interpretation starring Clint Eastwood, from the female characters’ point of view.
“I’ve watched the movie and it stayed in my mind. It was so fascinating to me that they made this really macho movie about a group of women in a girl’s school,” said Coppola, explaining that she set out to portray the women’s experiences and sexuality without distortion in the film.
“I was really interested in these women that are isolated during the wartime and what it might have been like for them. In the original movie, their desires were treated as something crazy,” she added of the film, which stars the likes of Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning.
Known for always dipping her toes into the world of fashion, Coppola also said she wanted to accentuate the feeling of suppression these seven characters experience in the movie through their choices of clothing. In the film, they are often seen reading the etiquette book “How to Be a Good Southern Lady” in prim ivory white floral-printed petticoats with high ruffled necklines.
The talk also raised the issues of the lack of female directors in the movie industry, which is slowly starting to change.
“I had a clear idea what I wanted to make for this film. Most of the financiers and executives are men so they are less interested in female-driven project. But, this is changing now,” Coppola said.
Female creatives from the fashion and art worlds — including designers Phoebe Philo, Roksanda Ilincic and Bella Freud — joined Coppola for the screening at Soho’s Picturehouse Central.