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Legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola to Attend Albany Premiere of The Cotton Club Encore

The new film, appearing 35 years after the original, was a labor of love for Francis Ford Coppola.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 13, 2019) – The NYS Writers Institute will host legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola for the Albany premiere of The Cotton Club Encore to be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, at The Hart Theatre in The Egg, Empire State Plaza in Albany. A conversation with Coppola and Writers Institute founder William Kennedy, who co-wrote the original screenplay, will follow the screening.

The Encore is Francis Ford Coppola’s classic, restored and re-edited with 30 minutes of new footage including several high-energy musical and dance numbers that were cut from the 1984 Cotton Club movie. The restorations expand the film’s dramatic line, especially the black characters’ story and performances. The new film, appearing 35 years after the original, represents a labor of love for Coppola, who spent half a million dollars of his own money re-editing it.

Coppola hired William Kennedy in 1983— the same year Kennedy founded the NYS Writers Institute — to work on a script written by Mario Puzo. In a four-week span, 12 scripts were produced, including five during one 48-hour non-stop weekend. Kennedy estimates that between 30 and 40 scripts were turned out in all, according to a story published in the Toronto Globe and Mail in November, 1984.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Coppola discussed his motivation for a retelling of his 1984 film:

The Cotton Club was sort of made on the battlefield between the various people who put up the money and the producer (Robert Evans). At the time, they looked at it and said, ‘Oh, there’s too many black people in it. Can we cut out some of the tap dancing and put the emphasis less on the black people in the story?’

“I happened to have a Betamax very rough copy of what the movie had been before all that happened ... Much of the film had been lost, but through hook and crook, I was able to put it back together.”

The all-star cast includes Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Gwen Verdon, Tom Waits and Fred Gwynne. The 1984 release received Oscar nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Art-Direction, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Director and Best Picture (Drama).

Coppola directed, wrote scripts for and produced some of the greatest films in cinematic history. He won five Oscars in four years — one in 1971 for Patton, one in 1973 for The Godfather and three in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II. He also won the Palme d’Or twice at the Cannes Film Festival, for The Conversation in 1974 and Apocalypse Now in 1979.

Kennedy's connection with the film community continued after The Cotton Club. The 1987 adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ironweed was filmed in Albany and the local area. Cotton Club actors Waits and Gwynne would later have roles in Ironweed. Kennedy also brought Francis’ brother, filmmaker and educator August Coppola, to the Writers Institute for a discussion of the history of film in May, 1986.

Tickets for the Oct. 6 event are $25 and available at The Egg box office at the Empire State Plaza, online or by phone at (518) 473-1845. Proceeds will support the Writers Institute’s inaugural Albany Film Festival at UAlbany on March 28, 2020.

View the movie trailer, a photo slideshow and more at www.nyswritersinstitute.org.

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