Dillon to star in 'Tetro'

Returning to the director’s chair for the second time in a year, Francis Ford Coppola will produce and helm Argentine family saga “Tetro” with Matt Dillon toplining.

Coppola, who also penned the screenplay, announced Tuesday that he plans to begin lensing in Buenos Aires late this year through his American Zoetrope shingle.

Story revolves around an artistic immigrant family marred by fierce rivalries, handed down through several generations.  

The director noted in the announcement that one third of the residents of Buenos Aires are descendants of Italian immigrants and that the story is reminiscent of his own life and roots in New York City.

“Forty years ago, my goal was to focus on original writing for film such as ‘The Rain People’ and ‘The Conversation’ and to direct personal films about the passions of contemporary life,” Coppola said. “As a young playwriting student, I greatly admired Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill, both of whom drew on their own lives and families in their work.  When I wrote the screenplay of Williams’ ‘This Property Is Condemned,’ I conspired to be the delivery boy to bring the draft to his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, just so I could meet him.”

Coppola recently wrapped on “Youth Without Youth,” his first directorial work in decade, with Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara and Bruno Ganz starring in an adaptation of a novel by the Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade. Story of an elderly man hit by lightning and suddenly returning to his youth begins in 1938 and continues through WWII, roaming from Bucharest to Switzerland to India to Malta.

Coppola also wrote and financed “Youth Without Youth” himself, using funds from his winery business. He said Tuesday that “Tetro” will be shot in the same kind of production style and budget range.

He also said “Youth” would be released in the second half of 2007, but noted it hasn’t been set with a domestic distributor.

“Walter Murch, our editor, says, ‘An unfinished film is like a dog without its skin,’ so we’ve really not shown it yet,” Coppola told Daily Variety. “We’re just mixing the last reels and will be all finished by Feb. 22 or so and then begin to present it to distributors.”

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