BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Francis Ford Coppola will start filming next week on "Tetro," about the struggles of two brothers from an Italian family in present-day Argentina.

Vincent Gallo and 18-year-old newcomer Alden Ehrenreich will play the brothers. Maribel Verdu ("Y tu mama tambien," ”Pan's Labyrinth") will play Gallo's girlfriend. Javier Bardem has a small role in the movie.

Coppola said the first scenes will be shot in the Italian neighborhood of La Boca, a gritty Buenos Aires district of multihued tenement buildings where thousands of immigrants arrived at the turn of the last century.

The Oscar-winning writer-director brushed off the possibility that "Tetro" traces the story lines of his own Italian immigrant family in New York City.

"It's not autobiographical really, it's personal," he said. "It's a story about a family. It's a small film … an independent kind of film."

Coppola, who directed classics such as "Apocalypse Now" and "The Godfather" trilogy, compared "Tetro," which is budgeted at about $15 million, to European movies of the 1950s and '60s.

The 68-year-old filmmaker said he views "Tetro" as an opportunity for continued personal exploration as a director.

"I want very much to learn how to make movies. That may sound funny because I've been doing it for 40 years, but the cinema is something that you never stop learning, and I want to make films in new ways," he said at a news conference Wednesday.

"I'm trying to have a new start with my career making more personal, smaller films," he said.

Coppola presented Gallo, Verdu, Ehrenreich and a handful of Argentine actors as "our little company."

"As an actor you have fantasies, and this is the fantasy come true," Ehrenreich said of working with Coppola.

Coppola remained humble.

"I never made films as a grand maestro," he said. "I always made films more as an imaginative child."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.