“Cinema is not about format, and it’s not about venue. Cinema is an approach. Cinema is a state of mind on the part of the filmmaker.”—Steven Soderbergh.
Steven Soderbergh, filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and actor, is widely considered by many as an early pioneer of modern independent cinema.
Having made his major breakthrough in 1989 with the release of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Soderbergh has continued to work and create with a quite prolific urgency.
Having has gone on to direct 28 feature films since emerging on the biggest stage, Soderbergh became the youngest solo director to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, seen his projects earn nine Oscar nominations – of which they won seven – and built a definitive style of filmmaking with distinctive cinematography and unconventional film and camera formats.
In an interview, Soderbergh once said: “I got the movie bug from my father, who was a huge fan. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1975, when I was 12 and saw Jaws for the first time, that I began to look at films differently. I came out of the theatre and suddenly my relationship to movies had completely changed. I wanted to know what ‘directed by’ meant.”
He added, “One of the things I realised was, I’m not a writer, and I needed to stop doing that. It was a huge thing for me to let go of that and realise I have the ability to talk about story and character and to suggest how something should be laid out in narrative terms—but in terms of pure writing, I’m so far behind what I know about directing that it’s really better for me to work with writers who know as much about writing as I know about directing.”
With an alternative view on the state of cinema, Soderbergh reflected on a list of his favourite films of all time as part of an interview reflecting on what inspires his creative vision. Selecting 11 films that he holds dear to his heart, the director picked out a Roy Rowland film as a significant moment that then propelled his interest in cinema. “Every Christmas we watched the same movie, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which came out in ’53 and was a gigantic flop,” Soderbergh explains “It’s a cult film. Dad would rent it and get a projector—that’s an indication of how invested he was in movies.”
Elsewhere, while discussing one of his favourite films, All the President’s Men, Soderbergh added: “This is one of the great openings of all time” before explaining that is “one of the better examples of a movie that managed to have a sociopolitical quotient and still be incredibly entertaining.”
He added: “It’s my sense that you can balance those things, and that the audience will sit still for it, even today’s audience, if they feel there is some real connection between the political content of the film and their lives.”
With mentions of Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola and more, see the full list below.
Steven Soderbergh’s 11 favourite films:
- All the President’s Men – Alan J. Pakula, 1976.
- Annie Hall – Woody Allen, 1977.
- Citizen Kane – Orson Welles, 1941.
- The Conversation – Francis Ford Coppola, 1974.
- The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T – Roy Rowland, 1953.
- The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola, 1972.
- The Godfather: Part II – Francis Ford Coppola, 1974.
- Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975.
- The Last Picture Show – Peter Bogdanovich, 1971.
- Sunset Boulevard – Billy Wilder, 1950.
- The Third Man – Carol Reed, 1949.