In France, it's always about life, normal life. We always stick with these realistic things. So when French people are dreaming about American movies, they go and see the thrillers, and Westerns, and science fiction, huge entertaining movies.
I chose the American ones, more or less the last five years of the silent era, because those are the ones that aged the best in the way they tell the story. One, it's about human beings with context. It's a very classical story with feelings, with laughter, melodrama and it really works, the good ones - Murnau's American movies, John Ford's Four Sons, King Vidor's The Crowd, or the (Josef) von Sternberg movies. You can watch it now and it still works. I mean they are really, really good pieces so this is where I tried to work.
Even some of us who make movies underestimate their influence abroad. American movies sell American culture. Foreigners want to see American movies. But that's also why so many foreign governments and groups object to them.
In Malaysia, where Western culture was extremely influential, I'd grown up listening to Elvis and the Beatles and watching American movies. People wanted to be like Americans. In contrast, when I got here, I saw prosperous middle-class American college students wanting to somehow join the Third World.