by Alexander Southey
Nepotism is, loosely, favoritism. Favoritism can be found everywhere in cinema, be it between family or friends, and, though it can end in bumbling stupidity and a waste of film time, it has also produced genius. Here, I’ll explore two great cases of nepotism—the Coppola and Reitman Families.
Every generation in the Coppola family since the 1950s has had a hand in cinema, whether it’s a big or a small hand. The Coppola family is actually more of a dynasty, starting with Carmine Coppola (composer), not Francis Ford Coppola, who is without a doubt head of the family. F.F. Coppola’s films such as The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now are some of the most beloved in cinema, and his daughter, among others, has carved out her own startlingly aesthetic directorial personality from her humble beginnings in those films. Her path was much more rocky, however, than her fathers. She began acting in her father’s films in non-speaking roles and then progressing to her first major role in Godfather Part III as Mary Corleone. Her performance was critically panned and so she made the move to behind camera. She put out The Virgin Suicides, a well-received, serious drama based off of the novel of the same name, and then produced an enormous hit with Lost In Translation, partially based on her own experiences. Since and including Lost In Translation, Sofia Coppola’s films have largely focused on fame and its advantages and disadvantages.
The Reitman Family has less of a sprawling existence in film history than the Coppola’s and is much more of a “one and two” situation. Ivan Reitman, a name you may not have heard, had a large hand in films in the seventies, eighties, and nineties that you will have heard of: he produced Animal House, directed Meatballs, and directed and produced Stripes, and the Ghost Busters films. His son, Jason Reitman, came to prominence after directing Thank You For Smoking; critically well-received with an “OK” commercial performance. He then put out Juno, a critical and commercial darling, bringing him to international fame. His next film, Up In the Air, employed big-name actors such as George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. He, however, has not followed the trend of “offspring of famous film figure” and so, although he comments on societal norms and world trends, his work doesn’t bare much similarity to Sofia Coppola’s work.
These families are two great examples of nepotism. The fathers of Jason Reitman and Sofia Coppola provided a stepping-stone for their careers and then they had the ability to branch out and make a name for themselves. This is a good example of nepotism; a style of nepotism that should be, realistically, encouraged.