Posted by The Washington Times on Monday, August 12, 2017 05:00:46A few weeks after Francesca’s birth, the parents, a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom, were at a spa in the Italian capital of Rome.
“We decided to go to the sauna,” says Francesca, “and there I heard this noise and then there was this bright light coming through the glass window, and then a man came running over to me and hugged me.”
The family’s story became the subject of a 2011 documentary called “Francesca” starring Joaquin Phoenix, and the Oscar-nominated director Francis Ford Coppola is a fan.
“Francinga was my first movie, and it was really special to me,” Coppolas told The Associated Press in 2013.
“My mother’s story, in this movie, was really powerful.”
But the movie was a hit, a critical hit.
“The only reason I was really surprised was because we had a very good marketing team and we knew that the movie would sell very well,” says director Francesco Ardito, who says the film went on to gross more than $300 million worldwide.
The family, now in their mid-50s, says they never expected to be asked to appear in a film.
“If you want to be a star, you have to be able to do something like that,” Francesca says.
“It was really hard, but it was worth it.”
The film made Francesca a household name and earned her a best actress Oscar nomination.
She also won two acting gold medals at the 2008 Oscars.
But Francesca now says she’s focused on making films that highlight a diverse range of people and cultures.
“My daughter Francesca is a young, talented woman who has become a symbol of my family’s stories,” she says.
“She is also a child of immigrants and the Holocaust.
She’s very smart, very articulate, and she has a wonderful sense of humor.
She has a beautiful, wonderful soul.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Mark Fergus on Twitter: @markfergus