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Tribeca 2016: Jodie Foster talks filmmaking

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Over her 50-year career in the entertainment industry, Jodie Foster has starred in only one film directed by a woman — Mary Lambert’s 1987 drama Siesta. But the actress called Jonathan Demme her “favorite female director” she’s ever worked with during a Tribeca Talks presentation Wednesday night.

In conversation with Across the Universe director Julie Taymor, Foster described the Silence of the Lambs helmer as the driving creative force behind the 1991 Best Picture-winning film, noting the strength of Demme’s perspective on the female experience at the film’s core. “He was the one guy who really understood Silence of the Lambs and was able to say, ‘this is a movie about a woman who is our hero,’ and the film is informed by that,” she said.

Foster, who directed the upcoming thriller Money Monster, set to premiere May 12 at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, also commented on the place of women in the industry, stressing that more work needs to be done to bring attention to the complex issues of gender equality but in a way that gets to the core of the deeper issue.

“I don’t think it’s a plot to keep women down… it’s neglect,” she said of the lack of women filmmakers in Hollywood. “It’s a bunch of people who weren’t thinking about it, including a lot of female executives who’d risen to the top and had not really made a dent in bringing many women into the mainstream world. We don’t want to ignore it. It’s real… the more financial risk, the less risky the studios can be, [and] people still see women as a risk.”

Though she hasn’t starred in a movie since 2012’s Elysium, Foster also told Taymor she values lengthy breaks between projects as a means to absorb more creative inspiration versus exhausting herself by jumping from movie to movie. The 53-year old cited an unlikely source, however, as a pool for creative inspiration: video games. Responding to an audience question about how video games and violent dramas like Taxi Driver are negatively influencing society, Foster quickly jumped to the defense of the gaming industry.

“I’m not sure if all of gaming is bad. I have two teenage sons who are involved in games, and they couldn’t be nicer people,” she said, calling 2K’s BioShock series one of today’s most interesting works of art. “There’s always this argument about how art, when it reflects the difficult, somehow will influence our culture in the wrong direction. There’s so much artistry coming out in games right now… We need to challenge the world to somehow be more connected and more open… sometimes dark dramas bring us light.”

Though she sees video games breaking artistic boundaries into the future, Foster playfully dismissed the possibility of bringing back a popular work from her past, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, for a sequel in the modern age of reboots and revivals. “New York has changed a lot in those 40 years [since the film’s release]. If you see it again, you’ll see that,” she said. “Uber Driver: The Sequel… I’m going to have to ask Columbia if that’s a good idea.”

Watch the trailer for Foster’s latest directorial effort, Money Monster, which hits theaters May 13, in the video below.

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