Thursday, May 7, 2015

Portman takes her directorial debut to Cannes

Academy Award-winning actress turned writer-producer-director Natalie Portman, 33, is preparing to re-emerge in a major way after a brief hiatus from the Hollywood spotlight.

After finishing post-production on her feature directorial debut, Portman will land in Cannes for the annual film festival, to screen her adaption of Israeli author Amos Oz's memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness on May 18 in the hopes of securing North American distribution.

The story centres on Oz's relationship with his troubled mother, portrayed by Portman, who killed herself when Oz was but 12 years old, and he grows up to become an acclaimed writer in Israel's early years.

Portman optioned the rights to A Tale of Love and Darkness eight years ago, and in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she said that she spent a considerable amount of time working on the $4-million dollar film, which was shot entirely in Hebrew.

She insisted on shooting in Hebrew, whatever the cost, producer Ram Bergman told THR. "She said, 'It's got be a love letter in Hebrew.' I said, 'It will make things harder.' She said, 'I don't care.'"

Hoping for the best, the actress-director has no expectations as she showcases it in Cannes, knowing it may have limited commercial appeal.

Speaking about Oz's memoir itself, "The language was really what [drew me], his obsession with words and the way words are connected in Hebrew, which has this incredible poetry and magic," she says. "It's obviously almost impossible to translate, but there's just incredible beauty to that. [Jews are] a people built of words, people built of books, and it's quite beautiful to see that, which is a strange thing to start for a movie."

Now that the film is finished, Portman says she's eager to return strictly to acting, "I don't think I'll stop unless I'm made to by lack of opportunity."

On deck is Portman's first self-produced feature film, Jane Got a Gun, by her company Handsomecharlie Films. It's scheduled for a September release, and her documentary Eating Animals is due before the end of 2015. Production has also been completed on Weightless, due for release in 2016, which will co-star actor Michael Fassbender.

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