Michele Russo

Scen.: Michele Salfi Russo. F.: Ugo Lo Pinto. M.: Michele Russo Ugo Lo Pinto. Scgf.: Gaetano Russo. Prod: Ulisse Associazione Culturale. DCP. Col e Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

I was a child when I heard from my father that we were related to Francis Ford Coppola, and for years I tried to get in touch with these American cousins who had originated from Bernalda, our small town in Southern Italy. Finally in 1988, I met a person who had known Francis Coppola in New York and gave me his address. I wrote to Francis asking if I could meet him, and after a few months he answered, saying that he was coming to Rome, and could meet me at Cinecittà Studios. We met and became friends. This encounter sparked my desire to find out more about the roots of the Coppola family, and to understand the source of their creativity and success. I began a long period of research. As a result of this process, I made a family tree, beginning with the first Coppola that arrived in Bernalda in the late 1700s. Along the way I discovered legendary characters and events that were revealed to me unexpectedly, as in a fairy tale. I gave the family tree to the Coppola family so that they could know their origins and the source of the stories handed down by Agostino Coppola, the family patriarch, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1904.
In 2005, I was in the company of Francis and his granddaughter Gia in Bernalda. Drinking wine by the fireplace, we began telling stories about the family. I said to Francis that the history of the Coppola family was really interesting, and in some ways resembled a fairy tale and I thought that he could make a film… then Francis told me that if I wished, I could make a documentary. So I began to write a story for the documentary that attempted to reconstruct the history of this fascinating family. The path was difficult – I had to search for archival footage, locate old documents, and especially, travel to different parts of Europe and the U.S. to interview the family members. I also re-created and filmed some scenes that might have taken place when Agostino was a boy in the 1800s. After some years of work I showed my film to Francis and the family, and they told me, “Well done!” which made me very happy, as I made this film solely out of a love for history, family and my home town of Bernalda.

Michele Russo

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