Portman makes directorial debut in Venice

VENICE Tue Sep 2, 2008 11:29am EDT

1 of 6. Natalie Portman poses for photographers during a photocall at the Venice Film Festival September 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

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VENICE (Reuters) - Actress Natalie Portman presented her debut as a director at the Venice film festival on Tuesday with a short movie about a young woman who is dragged along to her grandmother's romantic date.

"Eve", screening out of competition in the Venice short film section, stars Hollywood veterans Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara as the witty grandmother and the widower who takes her out for dinner. Early reviews have been positive.

Portman, 27, said she had always had a fascination with the older generation, and drew inspiration for Bacall's character from her own grandmother.

"The film was definitely inspired by personal experience and also all my friends, female friends, starting to define themselves in relation, and in reaction to, their mothers and their grandmothers," the Oscar-nominated actress told a news conference.

Having started her acting career as a child, she said that she had long wanted to be on the other side of the camera and will present a second short work at the Toronto film festival which starts later this week.

"We have so much time off between films as actors that you tend to get restless and you want a creative outlet, and there is not always acting work that fulfils that need," she said.

"I have been working now in films for 16 years...it was exciting to know what a director goes through and also to create something completely on your own.

"When you are an actor of course you are creating something but you are serving someone else's vision and ultimately it's someone else's creation. To have authorship is ... and feels like a more adult job," she added.

Getting Bacall on board was like fulfilling her "wildest dream", Portman said.

"It's so exciting to see someone with that much experience and that much wisdom on screen. It's rare."

Portman, who shot to fame as a teenager befriending a professional killer in Luc Besson's 1990s hit "Leon", has featured as Padme in the second Star Wars trilogy and won an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in "Closer".

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

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