Venice Film Festival 2023: Sofia Coppola’s history at the Venice Film Festival, as she premieres ‘Priscilla’

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In-competition feature “Priscilla” marks Sofia Coppola’s fourth appearance as a director at the Venice International Film Festival.

She comes from a cinematic dynasty, with her father responsible for one of cinema’s most enduring mafia sagas and a cousin who has become a cult icon. Sofia Coppola comes from a pedigree of talent as part of the Ford Coppola family tree, but asides from “The Godfather: Part III” has very much eeked out her own career.

At the Venice International Film Festival 2023, Coppola will once again look to scoop the festival’s top award, the Golden Lion, with her take on the life of Elvis Presley. Rather than focus on the King of Rock, Coppola’s take is from the perspective of his wife, Priscilla Presley, with “Priscilla” being screened in competition at the festival, which begins August 30 2023.

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With “Priscilla,” Coppola looks to the 1986 memoir, “Elvis and Me,” penned by Priscilla Presley, as the basis for the perspective audiences at Venice can expect from the film; in the book, Priscilla talks about meeting Elvis Presley, their marriage, and the factors and issues that led to the couple's divorce. 

Coppola’s adaptation isn’t the first time the book has been used as source material though; the book rights were purchased in 1987, and in 1988 it was made into a television movie written by Joyce Eliason, directed by Larry Peerce, and starring Dale Midkiff as Elvis and Susan Walters as Priscilla 

But knowing how Sofia Coppola has previously dealt with heartbreak and emotional distress (see: “The Virgin Suicides”), it’s immediately become a talking point ahead of the festival - with the notion that this could be a sobering companion piece to Baz Luhrmann’s highly regarded “Elvis,” starring Oscar-nominated Austin Butler.

Ask what led her to develop the memoir into a film, Coppola told Vogue “I've had her memoir for years and remember reading it a long time ago. A friend of mine was talking about her recently, and we got around to discussing the book. I read it again and was really moved by her story. I was supposed to start this big Edith Wharton project that was gonna take five months to shoot and felt really daunting.” 

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“I came up against a few hurdles, so I just decided to pivot to making one film with one idea. I was just so interested in Priscilla's story and her perspective on what it all felt like to grow up as a teenager in Graceland. She was going through all the stages of young womanhood in such an amplified world—kinda similar to Marie Antoinette."

Who is starring in “Priscilla”?

According to IMDB, the following performers will appear in Sofia Coppola’s new film:

Has Sofia Coppola premiered films at Venice International Film Festival before?

Where were you last week when we discussed the previous winners of the top award at Venice, the Golden Lion? But indeed, “Priscilla” marks the fourth time that Sofia Coppola will premiere a feature film at the festival, having screened the following directorial efforts:

Somewhere (2010)

US film director Sofia Coppola holds the Golden Lion she received for his film "Somewhere" during the awards ceremony of the 67th Venice film festival on September 11, 2010.  (Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)US film director Sofia Coppola holds the Golden Lion she received for his film "Somewhere" during the awards ceremony of the 67th Venice film festival on September 11, 2010.  (Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
US film director Sofia Coppola holds the Golden Lion she received for his film "Somewhere" during the awards ceremony of the 67th Venice film festival on September 11, 2010. (Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Somewhere” achieved critical acclaim and success upon its release; the film, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, tells the story of a disillusioned Hollywood actor who reevaluates his life after reconnecting with his young daughter. "Somewhere" won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, a significant recognition of its artistic merits. 

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Critics praised Coppola's direction, which skillfully depicted the character's emotional journey and explored themes of fame, loneliness, and parental responsibility. 

The Bling Ring (2013)

Coppola’s next Venice premiere, “The Bling Ring”, garnered attention and acclaim for its portrayal of the true story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers who burglarized the homes of Hollywood celebrities. 

Starring Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga, the film delves into themes of materialism, celebrity culture, and the allure of excess. While "The Bling Ring" received mixed reviews from critics, it found a dedicated audience and became a notable commercial success. Coppola's stylish direction and her ability to capture the spirit of the moment regarding celebrity-obsessed youth resonated with audiences.

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

Bill Murray (R) and Sofia Coppola attend the Tribute To Bill Murray during the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival on December 4, 2015 in Marrakech, Morocco.  (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images)Bill Murray (R) and Sofia Coppola attend the Tribute To Bill Murray during the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival on December 4, 2015 in Marrakech, Morocco.  (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images)
Bill Murray (R) and Sofia Coppola attend the Tribute To Bill Murray during the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival on December 4, 2015 in Marrakech, Morocco. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Sofia Coppola's "A Very Murray Christmas" was an unconventional holiday special that showcased her creative flair and wit and brought her back together with “Lost In Translation” actor Bill Murray. Murray and an ensemble cast starred in this musical comedy set in a New York City hotel during a snowstorm. As Murray's character struggles to host a live Christmas broadcast due to a blizzard, unexpected and quirky encounters with celebrities unfold, punctuated by musical performances. 

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The film's whimsical and offbeat approach, combined with Coppola's adept direction, made it a charming and refreshing addition to the holiday entertainment landscape. "A Very Murray Christmas" received positive reviews, praised for its originality and the joy it brought to audiences during the festive season.

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