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Gotham Awards 2016: Oliver Stone Offers His Advice to Filmmakers in Trump Era

"You can be critical of your government, and we've forgotten that."

Oliver Stone

Anne Thompson

On Monday night at Manhattan’s Ciprani Wall Street, Gotham Award Tribute recipient Oliver Stone took the stage to receive his award after a glowing introductory speech from fellow filmmaker and friend JC Chandor and a snappy highlight reel of some of his past successes.

As is so often the case with the always-outspoken Stone, his acceptance speech inevitably turned to the current political state of the world. Stone took the opportunity to speak to a large assembly of some of indie film’s brightest stars to offer his advice for filmmakers now living in the Donald Trump era.

READ MORE: Gotham Awards 2016: Complete Winners List

“I’d point out to those of you who are struggling to be independent and to stay independent, that’s the hard part, staying independent, I’d like to remind you that you can be critical,” Stone told the crowd. “You can be critical of your government, and we’ve forgotten that.”

Stone also emphasized how that type of thinking can impact filmmaking and creative work on a greater scale.

“The 1970s can come back, if you embody that in your own work,” he continued. “So don’t go easy on what you think is wrong. Think internationally. There are other values beside our little little echo bowl we have there.”



Stone, whose most recent film is the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-starring Edward Snowden feature film “Snowden,” also pointed to some of the lessons he learned while making that film to rally filmmakers to continue to make bold, forward-thinking work in an uncertain time.

READ MORE: Gotham Awards 2016: Kenneth Lonergan, Isabelle Huppert, Ezra Edelman and More on Why Independent Film Is Healthy

“Sometimes there is bad news,” Stone said. “As Mr. Snowden said very clearly, that the mechanism is in place now so that when there is another terror attack, which inevitably there probably will be in this country, the next president, whoever he may be, will have the authority to really close down the system in most oppressive way than it’s ever been.”

He added, “This is a major issue in our time and I hope young people won’t forget this in your work.”

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