The Golden Bear of Honor at the Berlinale for Steven Spielberg is an award that seems out of the box. And yet, the filmmaker (Cincinnati, Ohio, 76 years old) has exuded humility at the press conference prior to the award ceremony at the German festival. “It’s a wonderful award, really. And like it or not, it leads me to remember my past, because that is what honorary awards oblige ”, he said with humor and a certain melancholy when thanking the recognition.
Spielberg has halted promotion in the Oscars race of The Fabelmans (which has seven nominations) to talk about a film that curiously has not yet been released in Germany and in which the protagonist’s uncle is heard telling the alter ego Spielberg teenager: “You and I are junkies, because art is like a drug.” In person, the filmmaker has acknowledged that he still enjoys the rush of starting a story. “That moment has only been surpassed by the birth of my children,” he confessed.
The Fabelmans born from his time in confinement. “My children returned home, there was time to spend with my wife and with them and the grandchildren, and to breathe and reflect. It was a matter of the moment.” Although shortly after she acknowledged that she had been thinking about the script for years, but had not found the courage. “For years my mother, who celebrated life every day, if she wanted to do something she would do it, period, she kept telling me stories and asking me: ‘When will you use this material?’ Finally, the awareness of mortality that we all had during the pandemic, that feeling of great fragility, gave me the necessary courage. For a long time, the film in which he felt most emotionally invested was Schindler’s list. “Now obviously it’s The Fabelmans”, confessed. Today, February 21, marks the sixth anniversary of his mother’s death, and remembering it has moved him.
On his possible influence on later filmmakers, Spielberg has dribbled the question because he wasn’t quite sure he was the one to answer it. In return, he has recalled the directors who influenced him, such as “the Nouvelle Vague, with its fury, and especially a creator like François Truffaut, whom I love, a child at heart and wild as the title of his film”. He was the one who told her: “You also have a child’s heart, and you should make a film with children.” And for this reason, he confessed: “When the story of ET, I immediately remembered that piece of advice from François”. And have you used cinema as therapy? “The separation of my parents affected me a lot and it built me as an artist and as a person. You can never use cinema as therapy, that is easier to do in painting or music. But I do commit myself to each work, each film partly reflects the moments that my life passes through, everything that I am is at the service of the film”. From his career, he has asked that they not make him choose a particular outstanding title, “although my favorites are the ones I’ve done with children.”
When an Argentine filmmaker has asked him for advice like the one that the young Spielberg received from John Ford, and with which he closes The Fabelmans, The aforementioned responded quickly: “What I’m not going to tell you was his ‘Get out of my fucking office.’ We don’t look alike in that.” But he did remember his first time with Desert Centaurs. “When I was nine years old my parents went to see the movie on a Friday, and when they came back they couldn’t stop talking about it, saying it was too violent for me. So I took two coins from the penny jar and went to see her. If my parents had taken me with them, they would have explained to me a western that I have revisited many times since to get her to understand it.” And he did reason two keys when shooting a film: “As a director, make sure that each sequence is justified, has its value and contributes something to the whole. And pay attention to the little details.” About his future, he has confirmed that he has “no idea” what his next project will be. “I’ve been so involved in two movies in a row, now it’s weird to be sitting here in front of you acknowledging that I never thought about the next step and I really don’t know what I’m going to do. At the same time it’s good, because I’m in control of my life again, and at the same time it’s horrible, because I love my job and I need to go back to work”.
Before retiring (he lengthened the press conference two more questions than the moderator allowed), he stressed the “importance of humor” in his films as “a more narrative element.” And at exactly half an hour, in a true praise of crowds, Spielberg left, leaving, as could not be less in a narrator of his stature, dazzled the audience.
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