CANNES, France (AP) -- Rivalries are inevitable in a family as big and talented as Francis Ford Coppola's, with so many siblings and cousins and uncles working in film and music.
It was friction between the filmmaker's father, composer Carmine Coppola, and his uncle, opera conductor Anton Coppola, that helped inspire the director's latest film, "Tetro," premiering Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival.
It marks the first original screenplay Coppola has written since 1974's "The Conversation" and continues the director's return to an independent career path from which he detoured after the fame and acclaim of his "Godfather" days.
Coppola, 70, always intended to write and direct personal stories. But his enormous success in the 1970s and colossal financial troubles from cost overruns and commercial flops in the 1980s forced him to take studio work and later retreat from filmmaking while trying to raise money for a big dream project that ultimately fell through.
"Tetro" follows 2007's "Youth Without Youth" as the second film in Coppola's renewed commitment to personal storytelling over Hollywood entertainment.
"That's kind of what I would have hoped to do in my career and didn't really get to do," Coppola said in an interview. "Even though you can say, yeah, well `The Godfather' films are personal. And they are, even though our family were never gangsters, and we only heard about somebody who knew a gangster.
"But still, the real day-to-day reality of the Italian family that was put into the gangster film was based on my family and what I remember as a kid. You can't make films without them being personal to some extent."
"Tetro" is really personal. The film stars Vincent Gallo in the title role as a writer living in Argentina in exile from his family — particularly his father, a cruelly domineering music conductor who has harsh rivalries with his brother, also a conductor, and his son.
There's room for only one genius in the family, the father proclaims.
While the sibling rivalry between Coppola's father and uncle was a basis for the film, the story is fictional, including the father-son estrangement and the journey of Tetro's younger brother (newcomer Alden Ehrenreich) to reconnect with his lost sibling.
"Everything in the film is real and comes from real stuff, but nothing ever happened at all like that. They say that `A Streetcar Named Desire' really is (Tennessee) Williams' expression of himself as Blanche, as someone talented and fragile, fragile in a world of harsh reality." Coppola said. "The story may not really ever have happened, but it's all true."
As with "Youth Without Youth," Coppola financed "Tetro" himself from the fortune he has built from his winery and other businesses.
He keeps tight rein on the budgets to avoid jeopardizing his finances as he did decades ago with "Apocalypse Now" and "One From the Heart," freeing himself to make films about anything he likes.
"It's a wonderful moment to think that it's like a blank sheet of paper," Coppola said. "I could do anything I want, in a way, as long as I control the budget to the amount where I don't have to ask someone else to give me a money."
Coppola also is distributing the film himself, giving it a limited release June 11, the birthday of his father, an Academy Award winner for the score of "The Godfather Part II." His father died in 1991.
While he did not want to show "Tetro" to film companies before its Cannes premiere, Coppola said he is open to a partnership with potential distributors that catch the film at Cannes and want to invest in a wider theatrical release.
"Youth Without Youth," a challenging tale of an elderly language expert (Tim Roth) made young again by a freak lightning storm, failed to find an audience, but Coppola aims to stick with his program of personal subjects that interest him.
"I'm in a unique situation," Coppola said. "I'm like now an elderly retired guy who made a lot of money, and now I can just, instead of playing golf, I can make art films."
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