MAKING OF THE VIRGIN SUICIDES a film by ELEANOR COPPOLA. 1998. USA. 23 min. A rare document of Sofia Coppola’s iconic filmmaking debut. THE MAKING OF… SERIES.

This film screened exclusively for a week and is currently not available online.

From April 7 to May 11, Le Cinéma Club presents a collection of documentaries that delve into the behind-the-scenes magic and chaos that goes into making a film. Some of our favorite auteurs—Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee, Jane Campion, Martin Scorsese, and Harmony Korine—are captured by the creative eyes of Eleanor Coppola, St. Clair Bourne, Jonas Mekas, Frank & Tyrone Lebon, and others.


Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winning author Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and was given to the filmmaker by Thurston Moore, set the aesthetic framework for a generation of emerging independent filmmakers concerned with young ennui at the turn of millennium. Her mother Eleanor, a distinguished artist in her own right, shows how her daughter stepped into the director’s chair in Making of The Virgin Suicides.


Having co-directed the making-of opus Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse about her husband’s struggles on the set of Apocalypse Now, Eleanor’s approach to the micro-genre is both perceptively sharp and refined in style. Although Sofia’s set was not subject to the same problems as her father’s, Eleanor’s focus on her daughter’s decision to write the adaptation and convince the studio executives to back her version over a pre-existing iteration, embodies Sofia’s resolute work ethic and passion for filmmaking.



“I’ve always thought of the family as a circus family, with Francis out on the high-wire doing his act and the rest of us down below holding the ropes. And now it’s Sofia’s turn, she’s going out on the wire and the rest of us have all gathered around to be there for her and support her.” ELEANOR COPPOLA


“This is the first movie set I’ve ever not wanted to leave,” James Woods declares at the beginning of the documentary. Captured on a consumer-grade camera from the era, the preamble is inherently homey, evoking a foregone era of spontaneous video-making populated by the familiar faces of parents, siblings and cousins. With a young Robert Schartzman running around the set and cameos by Francis Ford Coppola wearing a Hawaiian-shirt while cheering the production, Eleanor’s film shares more in common with the warmth of home-movies than your typical behind-the-scenes documentary.


Born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1936, Eleanor Coppola attended UCLA where she received a B. A. in Applied Design. In 1962, she met Francis Ford Coppola while working on the set of Dementia 13. The following year, they were married. Eleanor has since developed an acclaimed career as an artist and as a filmmaker. Her art pieces have been exhibited at Fotografiska Stockholm and the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, among other galleries and museums. After filming making-of documentaries for both her husband and children, Eleanor made her fiction feature debut at the age of 80 with the delightful travel drama Paris Can Wait in 2016. Eleanor has lived with her husband in Napa Valley since 1975 where they manage the Inglenook winery alongside their extended family.


Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.