- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2001

BERLIN Steven Soderbergh brought his drug-war drama "Traffic" across the Atlantic to the Berlin film festival yesterday, saying the star-studded movie has helped break a "huge silence" in the United States.

"The film really is just asking the question, 'is this the best we can do?"' the director told reporters. "I don't think you'll find many people on either side of the issue in the United States who think it is the best we can do."

The 147-minute "Traffic" features three intertwined plots and stars Michael Douglas whose father, Kirk, is being honored with a retrospective and the Golden Bear award at the Berlin festival as well as Mr. Douglas' wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Don Cheadle, Dennis Quaid and Steven Bauer.

"I wanted to get as many movie stars in the film as possible, because it was a film I wanted to get on as many screens as possible," Mr. Soderbergh said. "I knew the subject matter needed to be neutralized in a way, that for a lot of people in America the subject was going to be a turnoff."

Mr. Soderbergh said he made the film because "there seemed to be a huge silence in the public debate in the United States about the drug problem."

Since its Dec. 27 release, "I feel like at least somebody's talking about it."

But, he added, "I don't know what we're in for" under President Bush.

Although "Traffic" followed "Erin Brockovich," which starred Julia Roberts as an uneducated but fiercely determined environmental crusader, Mr. Soderbergh insisted he has no list of issues he wants to put on the big screen.

His next film a remake of "Ocean's Eleven" with Ms. Roberts, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon which starts filming Sunday "has no social value whatsoever," he said.

Mr. Soderbergh was guarded on "Traffic'"s prospects for Oscar nominations, to be announced Tuesday.

"I don't know what to expect," he said. "I feel very, very fortunate that I start shooting another film this weekend, so I'm distracted."

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