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In Gavras film family, it's politics as usual

September 10, 2007|Susan King

Julie Gavras, the only daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Costa-Gavras ("Z," "Missing"), was content working as a documentarian.

"I guess I did documentaries because it was something nobody in my family did," she says over the phone from her home in Paris. "Not only is my father a director, but my mother is a producer. I have brothers who are in the business too."

Then she read "Tutta Colpa di Fidel," by her Italian friend, Domitilla Calamai. Set between 1968 and the early 1970s, the book revolves around a young girl whose parents are political activists.

"It was really strange reading the book -- not that the events in the book or in the movie are what I have been through," Gavras says, "but the ideas of how you grow up and how you learn things are really close to what always interested me. I felt it was important to do the movie."

"Blame It on Fidel," opening Friday, stars newcomer Nina Kervel-Bey in an illuminating turn as Anna, a will- ful and somewhat spoiled French girl who can't understand why she is forced to leave her comfortable bourgeois life when her parents become Communist activists, determined to bring the Marxist Salvador Allende to the presidency of Chile.

Gavras made some changes from the book, adding the Chile subplot and narrowing the time frame. "The events in France seemed more interesting to me in 1970-71 because there is the death of De Gaulle, which is really the end of an era in France."

Gavras says that she knew her father made movies when she was young but had no idea that they were strongly political. But when she was 10, the whole family vacationed in Mexico while her father was there directing 1982's "Missing," about an American journalist who disappears in a volatile South American country.

Observing her dad on the set, Gavras says, "I really understood what kind of movies he did. His job was not just doing movies, but political movies. I learned what a military is. That is how Chile ended up in 'Fidel.' It was my political awakening, not that I became politically involved but [that I] started understanding [politics]."

-- Susan King

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