By Keith Staskiewicz
Updated November 20, 2010 at 10:05 PM EST

Two celebrated modern American directors sat down for a chat this afternoon at the DGA Theater in New York. Joel Coen, fresh off of putting some very last-minute touches on True Grit, made a surprise appearance at a screening of Sofia Coppola’s new film Somewhere, moderating a Q&A with her following the movie. The film stars Stephen Dorff as a hard-living actor who unexpectedly finds himself with his 11-year-old daughter when her mother leaves her in his care. The quietly observed drama took home the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in September.

Coen, who began by professing his admiration of Coppola’s body of work, kick-started the discussion with a question he said he gets asked a lot: “When you were little, did you make movies with your brothers?” Coppola’s brother, Roman, is actually a producer on the film, and her father, film giant and oenophile Francis Ford Coppola, is an executive producer. The Lost in Translation director drew a big laugh when talking about the role her father plays in her own filmmaking saying, “I feel like he’s sort of a… well, I don’t want to say ‘godfather.’ But I can go to him for questions and advice along the way.”

Coppola said she wanted to have Somewhere be a smaller, more intimate film after all the costumes and Versailles-shoots necessary for 2006’s Marie Antoinette. “And also, I wanted to do something from a guy’s point of view,” she told the audience. “Marie Antoinette was so decorative, and girly, and frilly, that after that, I wanted to do something as minimal as possible. Just something different after being in that crazy macaroon world for so long.” When she was asked by an audience member why she takes such a long time between movies, Coen, who has made a movie a year with his brother for the last four years, interjected, “Work faster!”

Both Somewhere and True Grit open on Dec. 22.

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