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Unformatted text preview: © 2010 World Policy Institute 57 Toward a Universal Cinema A Talk with Steven Soderbergh Steven Soderbergh burst on the international film scene more than two decades ago with his ex- traordinary indie success, “sex, lies, and video- tape,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival—at 26, the youngest director ever to receive the festival’s top honor. There followed a succession of Oscar nominations and big budget Hollywood successes, including “Erin Brockov- ich,” “Traffic,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and its sequels, followed by the four-hour, two-part epic, “Che,” chronicling the life of the Argentine revolu- tionary. Soderbergh talked in his Manhattan production studio with World Policy Journal Editor David A. Andelman and World Policy Institute senior fellow Silvana Paternostro, who also served as associate producer of “Che.” WORLD POLICY JOURNAL : When you began making films, what were your influences? STEVEN SODERBERGH : Looking back on it, I was extraordinarily lucky. I was attending this laboratory school on the Louisiana State University campus and had access to a lot of films that under ordinary circumstances I never would have been exposed to. I was hanging out with these college film students and seeing movies from all over the world, in addition to classic American films. Watching “8 1/2,” or “Blowup,” or “High and Low” at 14 and 15 is a really extraordinary experience. They imprint you in a way that’s unique, you’re such a sponge at that age. I think it resulted in my work having this funny combination of both aesthetics—there’s a very American desire to entertain and to tell a story, but there’s also a very Euro- pean approach to style and character that is obviously influenced by those early experi- ences. So I’m kind of amazed when I think C • NVERSATI • N WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • FALL 2010 58 that when I grew up in Baton Rouge I actually got this incredibly varied cinema diet. I can’t imagine what kind of career I would have if I hadn’t seen all of those films during that period. WPJ : The flms you mentioned—Fellini, Antonioni—you could call them part of the Western Canon. They’re Western European filmmakers and a lot of them were influ- enced by early Hollywood films, but I guess when you start talking about a Global Canon of films, you’re starting to expand out, ex- tending to Iranian, Chinese, Japanese … SODERBERGH : At that point, Asia was about as far away as it got. We got the [Satyajit] Ray films from India and we were getting the highlights of Japanese cinema. In the last 20 years, the wave of movies that have come to us out of Hong Kong, out of Korea, that’s kind of a recent thing....
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- Fall '11
- Cinema of the United States, Steven Soderbergh, SODERBERGH