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Steven Soderbergh Headline Sands International Film Festival St Andrews

The third installment of the Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews has set its slate, and that will include director Steven Soderbergh engaging in a conversation with directors Anthony and Joe Russo. I will moderate that discussion, which will touch on the preposterously unlikely way that Soderbergh discovered and godfathered the career of the duo that directed Hollywood’s all-time highest grossing film, Avengers: Endgame. The festival runs next month from April 19-21.

Soderbergh’s own career took off with sex, lies, and videotape, the film that just celebrated 35 years since the filmmaker turned Sundance into a lucrative independent film hatchery. It went on to win the Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival, followed by Soderbergh’s first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He has gone on to direct films as diverse as Traffic, for which he received the 2000 Academy Award for Directing—the same year he was nominated for Erin Brockovich — the Ocean’s trilogy, Contagion, Magic Mike, and the HBO film Behind the Candelabra, winner of the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing. He has long been a supporter of emerging filmmakers, producing or serving as exec producer on filmmakers who include Greg Mottola (The Daytrippers, 1996), Gary Ross (Pleasantville, 1998), Christopher Nolan (Insomnia, 2002), and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, 2007), among many others.

His role in helping the Russo is particularly inspiring, and he will discuss it in detail at Sands. The brothers maxed their credit cards to make their first film Pieces, which scored a berth at the 1997 Slamdance Film Festival. Though never released, the film was seen by Soderbergh, who sought them out and taught them the ropes, producing their next film, Welcome to Collinwood, starring William H. Macy, Sam Rockwell and George Clooney, and he has been their guide, mentor and friend ever since. The Russos formed AGBO with mentorship in mind, giving a blind script deal to The Daniels team that resulted in the Best Picture Oscar winner Everything, Everywhere All At Once.

This live and in-person conversation follows a screening of Welcome to Collinwood which hasn’t been seen in UK cinemas since 2003 and marks the first opportunity the trio have had to discuss their long friendship and career highlights for a public audience.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to speak with Steven at Sands: International Film Festival, where we’re transported back to our filmmaking origins. Steven has been an incredible source of guidance and mentorship for us.  It’s truly exciting to reminisce about our journey and discuss the future of emerging storytellers” said the brothers Russo.

Among other things on the Sands program are discussions with the composer and conductor Alan Silvestri and casting director Debra Zane, whose credits include The Hunger Games franchise, Ocean’s Eleven, Catch Me if You Can and American Beauty.

AGBO is among the founding sponsors at Sands, as is Deadline, and donors that include the Murphy Family. Fest program director Ania Trzebiatowska is finalizing the film slate.

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