The ‘Unbroken’ director on why she refuses to look back, the problem with the news cycle, and what she learned from Louis Zamperini.
Interview for Elle magazine.
What do you think is the greatest lesson we can learn from Louie’s story?
Like many of the greatest human stories, it is about the capacity of regular men and women to rise above adversity. It reminds us never to give up, and that having the spirit to fight is what really matters. It is powerful because it speaks to the potential inside all of us.
Louie obviously went through a great struggle. Do you think there’s wisdom to the idea that struggle helps you grow?
I do believe in the old saying ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity.
Who are some young, up-and-coming filmmakers you’re supporting?
I like to work with artists from around the world. There are so many new inspiring filmmakers. I had the privilege recently to work with Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari and his wife on the filmDifret. They are that unique balance of very thoughtful conscious filmmakers who are also brilliant, original artists.
If you had the power to redirect the American media’s attention away from gossip or non-news reporting, what issues would you highlight?
It is not really the nature of the news, but what we do with the information we have. We know more than ever before in history about conflict and injustice happening across the world, but the will to translate that knowledge into pressure and action at a global level somehow seems to be lacking. Time and again, after massacres and atrocities, the world says, ‘never again.’ But in Syria today, to take just one example, these things are happening with impunity in the full knowledge of the world. We need a greater focus on solutions—not just on information.