‘I’m Not Finished’: Steven Spielberg Delivers Barnstorming Berlin Lifetime Achievement Speech, Pays Homage to Jewish Heritage
Steven Spielberg, director of countless blockbusters, delivered a blockbuster speech accepting the Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin Film Festival.
The filmmaker said that despite directing for six decades, directing “Duel” and “Jaws” felt like “last year.” “I know a lot more about moviemaking than I did when I directed my first feature film at 25. But the anxieties and the uncertainties and the fears that tormented me as I began shooting ‘Duel’ have stayed vivid for 50 years, as if no time has passed. And luckily for me, the electric joy I feel on the first day of work as a director is as imperishable as my fears, because there’s no place more like home for me than when I’m working on a set,” Spielberg said.
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“I also feel a little alarmed to be told I’ve lived a lifetime because I’m not finished, I want to keep working. I want to keep learning and discovering and scaring the shit out of myself, and sometimes the shit out of you,” Spielberg added. “I gotta get back to some of those earlier scarier movies, but that’s another story for later on. As long as there’s joy in it for me, and as long as my audience can find joy and other human values in my films, I’m reluctant to ever say that’s a wrap.”
Spielberg said that he wanted to break the record of Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira who directed his last film at the age of 106 adding that he had genetics on his side as his father Arnold Spielberg lived till 103.
Autobiographical film “The Fabelmans” happened because “it was time to look back at my early life at the world I was born into and emerged out of so that I could make my way make my mistakes and make my movies and because I made my movies, I get to be in Berlin tonight accepting this overwhelming honour for lifetime achievement.”
Spielberg said he owes “an incalculable debt to German cinema,” name checking pioneers F.W. Murnau, Ernst Lubitsch, Douglas Sirk and Fritz Lang and said he had been “challenged, goaded and inspired” by his contemporaries Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta, Wolfgang Petersen, Volker Schlöndorff and Tom Tykwer.
“If this honor means that my work has found a home in Germany, then tonight, I feel like I’m home too,” Spielberg said. “This honor has particular meaning for me because I’m a Jewish director. I’d like to believe that this is a small moment in a much larger, ongoing effort of healing the broken places of history – what Jews call Tikkun Olam, the repairing and restoring of the world.”
The filmmaker said he established The Shoah Foundation because he believed in the words of historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi who wrote: “The opposite of justice is not injustice.” “The opposite of justice is forgetting. Reconciliation is possible only when we remember what’s happened,” Spielberg said, adding that Germany had long been an essential partner in the Foundation’s work.
“The German people have shown themselves willing to read their country’s history, to confront its lessons regarding anti-Semitism, bigotry and xenophobia, harbingers of holocaust,” Spielberg said. “Other countries, including my own, can learn a lot from the courageous determination of the German people to act to prevent fascists from seizing power.”
Spielberg was introduced onto the stage by U2 frontman Bono. “Steven Spielberg’s films have touched so many hearts for so many years because each of them tells a human story,” Bono said. “Every story is Steven’s story, but he uses all his skills to make it your story too, our story too, my story too.”
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