Lumiere Film Festival: Martin Scorsese Talks Female-Centric Films, Los Angeles vs. New York

Martin Scorsese

"It’s never too late to learn," said the Oscar winner about working on female-centric projects in the future.

After being celebrated with the Lumiere Award at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon, the birthplace of cinema, Martin Scorsese reflected on his career before the festival came to a close.

“It just happens that the stories I made over the years centered on male characters,” the director of Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Aviator responded to a question about working with actresses. He then pointed out his Oscar nomination success ratio. “The American Academy has nominated more women in my films — I think 11 or 12 — than men. So it must be something,” Scorsese said, noting that Cate Blanchett and Ellen Burstyn have won under his direction.

Scorsese said he has tried to work on female-centric projects in the past, citing 1993's Age of Innocence as one that stands out. “But again, that is through the male point of view, though it’s written by Edith Wharton. But the women are the actors in the story in a much more subtle way."

Still, he hinted that he will be working on female-centric projects in the future. “There are a few projects I’m dealing with that, yes, have women as main characters. It’s never too late to learn,” he said.

Though he didn’t mention specific projects in the pipeline, in a master class Q&A with festival director Thierry Fremaux earlier in the week, Scorsese said he was still looking at The Irishman with Robert De Niro as his next project, though financing still hasn't been secured.

The director also said that the line between big Hollywood and gritty New York filmmaking has blurred since he returned to his native city in 1982. “Los Angeles does what it does, I’m not complaining about it,” he said, however noting the mind-set between the cities “is very different.”

“That’s not to nurture this myth that Los Angeles and New York are two separate things. If you are making American films you’re gonna be dealing with Hollywood, so there’s a very fuzzy line,” he said. “It’s almost that the cities don’t exist anymore in a sense when we are dealing with the same institutions.”

As far as regrets, Scorsese wouldn’t take the bait and said he wouldn’t go back for additional changes to any specific film if given the chance.

"For me, each film is its own universe and over my life the people have changed around me with those films, so each one is revisiting the past, and sometimes a film which isn’t very good I think is a very pleasant memory and sometimes the movie that is better is a terrible memory,” he said.

The Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations he has amassed throughout his decades-long career are just part of the recognition. "I think the verdict is in, in a sense, at least in my case. I’m fortunate enough to be still breathing while this verdict has been decided, for now anyway," he said. "We know that work that is hailed at one point in time in 150 years [opinion] may have changed, but I have been lucky to experience strong reactions — in both ways — in my lifetime.”

A retrospective of Scorsese’s 45-year career will open this week at La Cinematheque Francaise in Paris, a prospect that the director called “overwhelming.”

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