By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

“You see it with the media, when they come and say, ‘What do you think are your chances?’ You know what? The problem is that I don’t think there are filmmakers—certainly not very many filmmakers—that think like that. We’re just happy for the ride. We’re relieved in many ways, that our films are performing. There’s always the fear that your film is not going to perform one way or the other. So we’re in the mood to celebrate; it’s great that we are able to be on this ride. This industry has turned everything into something more vicious; or even very much so. The sad thing is it has become almost like a projection of how political campaigns are nowadays. Rather than politicians showing a vision, it’s about throwing dirt to the opponent. So rather than strengthening the values—and I’m not talking moral values, but the artistic merits of a film and the influence it may be having—it’s about trying to push the others down. I find that very sad. And I hope there’s a way—though I’m not sure there is—that it can be regulated by the Academy. I don’t know how.”

“You see it with the media, when they come and say, ‘What do you think are your chances?’ You know what? The problem is that I don’t think there are filmmakers—certainly not very many filmmakers—that think like that. We’re just happy for the ride. We’re relieved in many ways, that our films are performing. There’s always the fear that your film is not going to perform one way or the other. So we’re in the mood to celebrate; it’s great that we are able to be on this ride. This industry has turned everything into something more vicious; or even very much so. The sad thing is it has become almost like a projection of how political campaigns are nowadays. Rather than politicians showing a vision, it’s about throwing dirt to the opponent. So rather than strengthening the values—and I’m not talking moral values, but the artistic merits of a film and the influence it may be having—it’s about trying to push the others down. I find that very sad. And I hope there’s a way—though I’m not sure there is—that it can be regulated by the Academy. I don’t know how.”

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The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
~ Steven Soderbergh

 

“I have made few films in a way. I never made action films. I never made science fiction films. I never made, really, very complicated settings, because I had modest ambitions. I knew they would never trust me to have the budget to do something different, so my mind is more focused on things I know. So they were always mental adventures I wanted to approach and share. Working for cinema with no – not only no money, but also no ambition for money. I was happy and proud [to receive the honorary Oscar] because of that, that [the Academy] could understand what kind of work I have done over 60 years. I stayed faithful to the ideal of sharing emotion, impressions, and mostly because I have so much empathy for other people that I approach people who are not really spoken about. I have 65 years of work in my bag, and when I put the bag down, what comes out? It’s really the desire of finding links and relationships with different kinds of people. I never made a film about the bourgeoisie, about rich people. about nobility. My choices have been to show people that are, in a way, more common and see that each of them has something special and interesting, rare and beautiful. It’s my natural way of looking at people. I didn’t fight my instincts. And maybe that has been appreciated in the famous circle of Hollywood.“

Agnes Varda