Relationships between women a mystery to men, says 'spiritualist' Portman

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[September 09, 2016]   By Agnieszka Flak

VENICE (Reuters) - Relationships between women remain a mystery to men, U.S.-Israeli actress Natalie Portman said at the Venice film festival on Thursday, adding her voice to calls for the movie industry to employ more female directors.

Portman spoke while presenting "Planetarium", a drama in which she and Lily-Rose Depp play two spiritualists in late 1930s France who are also sisters. Screening in the out-of-competition section in Venice, it is directed by Rebecca Zlotowski.

"It's crazy that in 25 years of making films this is the first time I've been in a feature directed by a woman," the 35-year-old actress told a news conference ahead of the movie's premiere.

Portman said there were no inherent differences between female and male directors but opportunities for women - at least in the United States - were far fewer.

That in turn affected how stories were told, she said, with little regard to relationships between women which were "central to any women's existence but of course invisible to any male imagination of female life".

This year's edition of the world's oldest film festival features several strong female leads, including Amy Adams in thrillers "Arrival" and "Nocturnal Animals", Dakota Fanning in survival epic "Brimstone" and Portman again as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in drama "Jackie".

But just two of the 20 movies vying for the coveted Golden Lion to be awarded on Saturday are directed by women; Ana Lily Amirpour's "The Bad Batch" and Martina Parenti's "Spira Mirabilis", which she co-directed with Massimo D'Anolfi.

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Portman, who won an Oscar for her role in ballet thriller "Black Swan" and made her own directorial debut with drama "A Tale of Love and Darkness", said she enjoyed working with 17-year-old Depp, the daughter of maverick actor Johnny.

"It's always a joy when you get to work with another woman on set and not be 'one of the boys', which is what you get used to as an actress in the U.S.," she said.

Depp, said she was attracted to her role because of the character's strength and depth, unusual in a cinematic portrayal of a young women.

"She knows things that the adults surrounding her don't know ... she's strong because of that and she defends her family, she takes care of her sister," Depp said.

(editing by John Stonestreet)

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