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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 dOr at the Cannes Film Festivalat 26, the youngest director ever to receive the festivals top honor. There followed a succession of Oscar nominations and big budget Hollywood successes, including Erin Brockov- ich, Traffic, Oceans 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 thats unique, youre such a sponge at that age. I think it resulted in my work having this funny combination of both aestheticstheres a very American desire to entertain and to tell a story, but theres also a very Euro- pean approach to style and character that is obviously influenced by those early experi- ences. So Im 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 cant imagine what kind of career I would have if I hadnt seen all of those films during that period. WPJ : The flms you mentionedFellini, Antonioniyou could call them part of the Western Canon. Theyre 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, youre 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, thats kind of a recent thing....
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- Fall '11