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Why Steven Soderbergh is Important in Indie World?

Steven Soderbergh
Anubhav Chakraborty

June 14, 2021 3 min read

Steven Soderbergh came to the limelight, not after his famous Ocean’s trilogy, the heist-thriller franchise everyone loves, but way back in the 80s when he used to make indie films. He’s one of the pioneers of modern independent cinema, getting his first limelight in 1989 for his movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape, for which he became the youngest solo filmmaker to be awarded Palme d’or at the Cannes Film festival.

Known for his avant garde approach to filmmaking, his movies have noir elements. He explores the characters’ back stories, how the current beings came into existence, letting the audiences get on with a trip of identities, vengeance, sexuality and human emotions. 

All his movies have multiple characters and hence are multi-linear stories. Every character sketch is used as a thread by Soderbergh. He weaves multiple such threads and makes a grand scheme or web of events that chronologically makes the story and hence the film.

And you gotta see his movies to actually understand that..

Sex, lies and videotape (1989)

While talking about Indie films, Sex, lies and videotape is always mentioned for its thrills and extraordianry mood that it creates in every audience’s mind. The story revolves around a person’s action who is essentially troubled with his marriage and is engaged in an affair with his wife’s sister. This film has been told to be the most influential and independent film in the history of indie films. In 2006, the film was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry of the United States, quoting the film as “aesthetically significant”.

Traffic (2000)

His best work, after Sex, Lies, and Videotape was his 2000 film called Traffic. It’s a movie about the illegal drug trade between Mexico and the USA. This got him the Oscar for best director. This movie revolves around an honest Mexican cop, a judge in Ohio who’s taking on the drug war and DEA cops. Traffic tries to showcase all the elements of the drug epidemic in the USA. From the trade to its effects on societies- both sides of the border.

Oceans 11 (2001)

His next movie is the famous heist thriller we know about. This franchise may seem like an ordinary Hollywood thriller. But except, it’s Soderbergh who’s directing it. This film contains an amazing ensemble cast, every character is different in his own way, gotten together by a leader with the face of George Clooney, who’s leading them to the most ambitious heist plan of one of the biggest casinos of Las Vegas. And there are more at store in it for you..

Contagion (2011)

For the past 1 year, we have been living in one of Soderbergh’s movies. Soderbergh made a pandemic movie, years before an actual pandemic hit us. That too, the movie contains the very similar virus, with the same transmission and symptoms. And like any of his films, this movie revolves around the chief of CDS, a field health inspector, a WHO chief, a journalist and the life of an ordinary family, exploring every dimension of an epidemic-hit dystopian world. Watch Contagion if you ever want a nostalgic trip of the year 2020.

Let them all talk (2020)

This time again Soderbegh comes up with another narrative of non – linear relationship where the plot reveals the story of a Pulitzer winner author who is working on her last manuscript and how the crew got into unexpected relationships while taking a trip. The film is essentially a comedy drama that has gained international attention and popularity.

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