Sofia Coppola and Cindy Sherman in Conversation
Sofia Coppola talks to Cindy Sherman about her Priscilla Presley biopic, her early life on the set of Apocalypse Now, and more
From The Virgin Suicides’ clan of sisters suffocating in Seventies suburbia to The Bling Ring’s underparented teens on a celebrity-burgling spree, Sofia Coppola conjures the rich texture of girlhood caught in flux like no one else. Her newest subject feels like a cosmic match: Priscilla Presley, the beehived bride of the king of rock and roll. She met Elvis as a 14-year-old schoolgirl and was secreted behind the gates of Graceland when she was still doing homework. Based on Presley’s memoir, Coppola’s film Priscilla promises the lush palette of 1960s, Cadillac-and-milkshake America with the complicated, hothouse atmosphere of those in-between moments of adolescence the director handles so masterfully. With her impeccable family pedigree, Francis Ford’s daughter has long been in her element telling stories on set; now 52, she’s one of the most distinctive filmmakers of her generation.
The monumentally influential artist Cindy Sherman tells stories too, equally ambiguous and unsettling ones, plotting eerily familiar scenarios in which she places herself as the medium to dismantle the archetypes around us. Since her breakthrough in the early Eighties, she has freeze-framed small-town housewives and leathery socialites, Hitchcock blondes and Renaissance Madonnas, crime-scene corpses and nightmarish clowns. Her latest digital series reconstructs the features of her face, reflecting back our fractured modern selves in contorted snarls and toothy grimaces. Not unlike a Coppola heroine, Sherman grew up the youngest of five children in suburban Long Island, watching B-movies and playing dress-up in her bedroom. Weaving her deeply uncanny scenes via make-up, wigs and thrift-store finds, the artist is a one-woman crew, wielding camera, lights, costumes and props.
Some of those dot the shelves behind her on the day she and Coppola meet over Zoom – Coppola at home in downtown New York, Sherman at her studio in Long Island.
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