At the outset, there was this challenge: celebrate the anniversary of the Festival, without turning a nostalgic eye back over the past 60 years, so as to reaffirm our admiration and testify our confidence in the great filmmakers of the world. Filmmakers who have never creased to astonish and constantly reinvent the cinema. We have brought together 35 directors, from 5 different continents and 25 countries, all universally recognized. They have directed, in just 3 minutes each, their state of mind of the moment as inspired by the motion picture theater, that magical venue of communion of film lovers the world over. The very nature of this project sparked them into being all the more surprising, funny, tender or sarcastic, as well as moving and provocative. –amazon
Theo Angelopoulos began to study law in Athens but broke up his studies to go to the Sorbonne in Paris in order to study literature. When he had finished his studies, he wanted to attend the School of Cinema at Paris but decided instead to go back to Greece. There he worked as a journalist and critic for the newspaper “Demokratiki Allaghi” until it was banned by the military after a coup d’état. Now unemployed, he decided to make his first movie, Anaparastasi (1970). Internationally successful was his trilogy about the history of Greece from 1930 to 1970 consisting of Meres tou ’36 (1972), O thiasos (1975), and Oi kynigoi (1977). After the end of the dictatorship in Greece, Angelopoulos went to Italy, where he worked with RAI (and more money). His movies then became less political. —IMDb
In the ’90s Olivier Assayas emerged as one of the key figures in the new generation of French filmmakers. As a former critic for Cahiers du Cinema and a die-hard cinephile, he makes his films both personal and referential to the works of directors that he adores. His father was a director/screenwriter in the 1940s who later worked mainly for TV. When it was increasingly difficult for him to work because of a health condition, Olivier started to help him, first merely as a secretary, and then ghostwriting a few screenplays for the Maigret TV series. In the late 1970s he joined the team of influential film magazine Cahiers du Cinema, that once launched the French New Wave. While working for Cahiers he wrote essays on his favorite European filmmakers, Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, and published extensive studies on American horror films and Hong Kong Cinema (the latter came out long before Hong Kong cinema became fashionable with Western filmgoers and critics). He collaborated… read more
Bille August (born November 9, 1948) is a Danish film and television director. Most of his projects have been in co-operation with Swedish production and with a mainly Swedish cast. He was partially educated in Sweden and also married to Swedish actress Pernilla August from 1991 to 1997. His film Pelle the Conqueror from 1987 won both the Palme D’or, Academy Award and Golden Globe. He is one of the very few directors to win the Palme D’or twice, winning the prestigious award again in 1991 for The Best Intentions, based on the autobiographical script by Ingmar Bergman. He later went to Hollywood, directing several films, but so far none have been as successful as his early work. —Wikipedia
Rising to prominence in the 1990s, New Zealand director Jane Campion is known as one of the contemporary cinema’s most distinctive personalities. Her feature films, though varied in quality, have been united by their compelling depictions of the lives of women who are in some way outside of society’s mainstream. Campion’s films explore what makes these women different, and the repercussions of their refusal, or inability, to conform. Thanks to this subject matter, Campion has often been labeled a feminist director, a label that, while not inaccurate, fails to fully capture the dilemmas of her characters and the depth of her work. Born in Waikenae, New Zealand, on April 30, 1954, Campion was the product of a theatrical family. Her mother, Edith Campion is an actress and writer, while her father, Richard, is a theater and opera director. Educated at Wellington’s Victoria University, where she earned a B.A. in structural arts, Campion went on to study fine arts at London’s Chelsea School… read more
Youssef Chahine (born in Alexandria, Egypt, 1926) started studying in a friars’ school, and then turned to English College until the High School Certificate. After one year in the University of Alexandria, he moved to the U.S. and spent two years at the Pasadena Play House, taking courses on film and dramatic arts. After coming back to Egypt, cinematographer Alevise Orfanelli helped him into the film business. His film debut was Baba Amin (1950): one year later, with Ibn el Nil (1951) he was first invited to the Cannes Film festival. In 1970, he was awarded a Golden Tanit at the Carthage Festival. With Le moineau (1973), he directed the first Egypt-Algeria co-production. He won a Silver Bear in Berlin for Iskanderija… lih? (1978), the first installment in what proved to be an autobiographic trilogy, completed with adduta misrija (1982) and Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman (1990).
In 1992, Jacques Lassalle proposed him to stage a piece of his choice for Comédie Française… read more
Chen Kaige is one of China’s most prominent and influential directors, and perhaps the central figure in China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers. Born Chen Aige in Beijing, he was the son of noted director Chen Huaiai, who directed a number of popular films during the 1950s and 1960s. As the chaos of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution was gathering steam, Chen, a 15-year-old member of the notorious Red Guard, publicly denounced his father. He later partially reenacted that day during the heartbreaking climax of Farewell, My Concubine (1989). During the late ‘60s, he was sent to labor in a rubber plantation in southwestern Yunnan province. Later, he served in the army but remained in the area. In 1975, as Mao’s reign was drawing to a close, Chen returned to his hometown to work at the Beijing Film Processing Laboratory. Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaopeng, set about undoing much of the destruction of Mao’s bloody final decade, which included opening the nation’s schools and academies. In 1978… read more
Michael Cimino studied architecture and dramatic arts from Yale; later he filmed advertisements and documentaries and also wrote scripts until the actor, producer and director, Clint Eastwood gave him the opportunity to direct the thriller Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). But his biggest success was The Deer Hunter (1978) which won the Oscar for the Best Film. For another successful film he got in trouble: The Sicilian (1987) – critics accused him of portraying as a hero, with his biography, the Italian criminal Salvatore Giuliano. —IMDb
David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father was a journalist, and his mother was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories, thus following his father’s path) and for music (playing classical guitar until he was 12), Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Literature after switching from the science department. He reached the cult status of horror-meister with the gore-filled, modern-vampire variations of Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977), following an experimental apprenticeship in independent filmmaking and in Canadian television programs.
Cronenberg gained popularity with the head-exploding, telepathy-based Scanners (1981) after the release of the much underrated, controversial, and autobiographical The Brood (1979). Cronenberg become a sort… read more
After studying drama in the arts institute, Jean Pierre Dardenne and his brother Luc made some videos about the rough life in blue-collar small towns in the Wallonie. After their meeting with filmmaker Armad Gatti and cinematographer Ned Burgess, they decided to enter in the movie business.
In 1978 they shot their first documentary, Le chant du rossignol, about the resistance against the Nazis during the second world war in Belgium. In 1986 they shot their first fiction movie, Falsch, about a Jewish family massacred by the Nazis. After their second movie, Je pense a vous, they released La Promesse, a movie about inmigration in Belgium. The film was a success worldwide winning awards in many festivals.
In 1999 they had another hit with Rosetta, that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival. The movie tells the story of a blue collar worker with an alcoholic mother who tries to have a better life in a small belgium city.
In 2002, they came back to Cannes with their… read more
Manoel Cândido Pinto de Oliveira, GCSE (Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐnuˈɛɫ doliˈvɐjɾɐ]; born December 11, 1908) is a Portuguese film director born in Cedofeita, Porto. He is currently the oldest active film director in the world.
Manoel de Oliveira was born in Porto, Portugal on December 11, 1908, to Francisco José de Oliveira and Cândida Ferreira Pinto. His family were wealthy industrialists.
Oliveira attended school in Galicia, Spain and his goal as a teenager was to become an actor. He enrolled in Italian film-maker Rino Lupo’s acting school at age 20, but later changed his mind when he saw Walther Ruttmann’s documentary Berlin: Symphony of a City. This prompted him to direct his first film, also a documentary, titled Douro, Faina Fluvial (1931).
He also has the distinction of having acted in the second Portuguese sound film, A Canção de Lisboa (1933).
His first feature film came much later, in 1942. Aniki-Bóbó, a portrait of Oporto’s street children… read more
Raymond Depardon is a photographer, a journalist and a filmmaker. He was born into a family of farmers in 1942 in Burgundy and went to Paris in 1958, wishing to be a photographer. He was first taken on as a messenger in an agency and was sent to take photos of an opening-night at the cinema: the movie was none other than Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. He finally established his own agency, Gamma, together with three reporters, in 1966 ‘not for money but for the freedom’. He suggested to set up a cinema department: ‘we bought an Eclair- camera and tried to make news-films for television in addition to taking news-photograhs… It was then that I learned to hold the camera." When Depardon films people, he is silent. If one has the impression that he always keeps his eyes lowered in the face of the world’s miseries, it is untrue. Raymond Depardon looks as through a lattice and reacts like quicksilver, keeping his deepest, innermost emotion secret, and allows his pictures to speak for themselves… read more
Atom Egoyan’s parents were painters and he studied International Relations and music at the University of Toronto where he began making short films: “Howard in Particular” 1979, “After Grad with Dad” 1980, “Peep Show” 1981 and “Open House” 1982.
While he has several distinguished Television and Opera works on his resume and such pictures as his debut “Next of Kin” 1984, Berlin and Moscow International Film Festival-winning “Family Viewing” 1987 and “The Adjuster” 1991 – his most critically acclaimed creation is The Sweet Hereafter (1997) and his most famous work is the astonishingly clever film-in-film Ararat (2002)
4 time Cannes Film Festival winner and the most famous Armenian filmmaker since Sergei Parajanov, the Egypt-born, Canada-bred, Oscar-nominated master of indie cinema, has collected an impressive 4 awards from the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.
A 7 time recipient of Canada’s top Genie Awards, he is a remarkable figure in contemporary… read more
Born in Haifa in 1950, as the second son of architect Munio Weinraub and former Sionist activist Efratia Margalit. On the year of his birth, his parents changed the family name to “Gitai”, which is the Hebrew translation of the German name “Weinraub”. While he was a student in architecture, Amos Gitai joined the Yom Kippur war in 1973 as a reserve duty officer, and served as part of a helicopter rescue team. While serving during the war, he started filming with a 8mm camera his mother gave him as his birthday present. On his 23rd birthday, October 11th 1973, his helicopter was shot down by a Syrian missile. Among the 7 crews on board, 6 of them survived, including Gitai himself, who was inspired by this traumatic experience to quit architecture and move to filmmaking. He made a documentary on this incident and his fellow survivors, “Kippur: War Memories” in 1993, then a fictional recreation of it “Kippur” in 2000.
in 1979, Gitai directed his first feature-length documentary “House”… read more
Born in México City, Mexico, in 1963, Alejandro González Iñárritu started his show-business career in 1984 as a DJ at top-rated Mexican radio station WFM. At the same time he studied filmmaking and theater. From 1988 to 1990 he composed music for six Mexican features, including Garra de tigre (1989). In the 1990s he became one of the youngest producers in Mexican TV: looking for good stories, he read a lot of scripts and one day was introduced to Guillermo Arriaga, a screenwriter, and they planned to make 11 shorts to show the contradictory nature of Mexico City. After three years and 36 drafts, they ended up settling on only three stories and expanding them. That movie, Amores Perros, became a major hit at its release at the Festival de Cannes 2000, where it received the award of the best film by the Semaine de la Critique, and went on to huge worldwide success. It also earned an Oscar nomination for best foreign movie. His second feature, 21 Grams (2003), was also written by Arriaga… read more
Director Hou Hsiao Hsien, in a 1988 New York Film Festival World Critics Poll, was voted one of three directors who would most likely shape cinema in the coming decades. He has since become one of the most respected, influential directors working in cinema today. In spite of his international renown, his films have focused exclusively on his native Taiwan, offering finely textured human dramas that deal with the subtleties of family relationships against the backdrop of the island’s turbulent, often bloody history. All of his movies deal in some manner with questions of personal and national identity, particularly, “What does it mean to be Taiwanese?” In a country that has been colonized first by the Japanese and then by Chiang Kai-Shek’s repressive Nationalist Government, this question is pregnant with political connotations.
Hou was born to a member of the Hakka ethnic minority in southern Guangdong province in mainland China, but his parents emigrated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan… read more
Aki Kaurismäki did a wide variety of jobs including postman, dish-washer and film critic, before forming a production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. Both Aki and Mika are prolific film-makers, and together have been responsible for one-fifth of the total output of the Finnish film industry since the early 1980s, though Aki’s work has found more favour abroad. His films are very short (he says a film should never run longer than 90 minutes, and many of his films are nearer 70), eccentric parodies of various genres (road movies, film noir, rock musicals), populated by lugubrious hard-drinking Finns and set to eclectic soundtracks, typically based around ‘50s rock’n’roll.
In the 1990s he has made films in Britain (I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)) and France (La vie de bohème (1992)). —IMDb
“Beat” Takeshi Kitano is widely considered to be Japan’s foremost media personality. In addition to his work in the film industry he is an active newspaper columnist, an author and poet, and a ubiquitous presence on Japanese television where he can be seen in up to eight prime time shows per week.Kitano first found fame, as well as his “Beat” nickname, in the early ‘70s as one-half of the manzai comedy duo The Two Beats, a fast-paced, cross-talk act that thrilled audiences with their off-color humor and satirical bite. Throughout the early ’80s, Kitano acted in a number of films, most memorably in Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983).
In 1989 Kitano added another facet to his career — serious film director. He was set to star in a police thriller that was to be directed by gangster film veteran Kinji Fukasaku. When Fukasaku had to leave the film, the film’s producers offered Kitano the directing chores. He reworked the script and the result was Violent Cop, a… read more
The Russian theatre and film director Andrei Konchalovsky is an elder brother of Nikita Mikhalkov, born August, 20, 1937. As a youngster he planned to pursue a career of a musician and learned to play piano but his love for cinema outweighed and he entered VGIK-the major state film school where he studied under Mikhail Romm. At VGIK he met Tarkovsky, they collaborated on Ivan’s childhood and Andrei Rublev. For his length feature debut The First Teacher (1961), he chose the book by Chingis Aitmatov about the post-1917 Revolution period in the southern Russia. His next film, a black and white Asya Klyachina’s Story although made in 1966 was not released until a decade later because it failed to comply with the strict requirements of the Russian censorship of the period. A Nest of Gentry (1969) – a study of the 19 c. aristocracy – was praised for its visual beauty but attacked by critics as mannered. Konchalovsky’s powerful Uncle Vanya (1970) from the play by Chekhov is regarded by many… read more
Born in the 9th arrondissement of Paris to a Jewish family of Algerian origin, Lelouch won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966 for Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman), as well as two oscars including best foreign language film. The 1981 musical epic Les Uns et les Autres is widely considered as his masterpiece, and his credits now add up to 50 or so films. His father gave him a camera to give him a fresh start after his failure in the baccalaureat. He started his career with reportage – one of the first to film daily life in the U.S.S.R., the camera hidden under his coat as he made his personal journey. He also filmed sporting events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Tour de France. His first full length film as director, Le Propre de l’homme, was decried by the critics – ‘Claude Lelouch, remember this name well, because you will not hear it again’ – Cahiers du Cinema said. La Femme Spectacle (1963), following prostitutes, women shopping, going for nose-jobs… read more
Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it’s virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, he branched out into the theater, performing with a touring repertory company. This led to television, where in alliance with producer ‘Tony Garnett’ he produced a series of docudramas, most notably the devastating “Cathy Come Home” episode of “The Wednesday Play” (1964), whose impact was so massive that it led directly to a change in the homeless laws. He made his feature debut Poor Cow (1967) the following year, and with “Kes”, he produced what is now acclaimed as one of the finest films ever made in Britain. However, the following two decades saw his career in the doldrums with his films poorly distributed (despite the obvious quality of work such as The Gamekeeper (1968) (TV) and Looks and Smiles (1981… read more
David Lynch grew up as a Presbyterian. David Lynch spent his childhood throughout the Pacific Northwest and Durham, North Carolina depending on where his father’s job as a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture took him. His mother was an English tutor whose parents immigrated to the United States from Finland in the 19th century. David Lynch attained the rank of Eagle Scout and, as a teenager served as an usher at John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Inauguration. David Lynch took courses at The Corcoran School of Art during his high school career at Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria, Virginia. He enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for one year (where he was a roommate of Peter Wolf) before leaving for Europe with childhood friend and contemporary artist Jack Fisk. In 1966 he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).
While enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) he created the visual work, Industrial Symphonies… read more
Giovanni (Nanni) Moretti was born in 1953 in Bolzano. Both his parents are teachers and researchers. His first passions, cinema, water-polo and political commitment mark his works and his biography. After having graduated, Moretti tries to find work as assistant-director before shooting his first Super-8 shorts. He is also an actor for the Taviani Brothers (Padre padrone). His first feature-length film Io sono un autarchico brings him success both with the critics and the public. His second (Ecce Bombo) is selected by Cannes Film Festival. The success of the film makes Moretti one of the main European new authors.
Sogni d’oro wins the Jury Prize in Venice, and after Bianca (1983), La messa è finita wins the Silver Bear at the 1985 Berlinale.
In 1987, toghether with his long-time friend Angela barbagallo, Moretti establishes his production and distribution company, Sacher Film. They will then purchase and run a theater in Rom, called Nuovo Sacher.
Some dialogs and characters… read more
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more
Director/writer Walter Salles Jr. spearheaded the return of Brazilian cinema to international prominence in the latter half of the 1990s, particularly with his esteemed hit Central Station (1998). Born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of a well-heeled banker, Salles was raised in France and the United States before Brazil became his permanent home during his teens. Salles entered the Brazilian film industry as an award-winning documentary filmmaker during the industry’s 1980s/early-‘90s decline. After he moved to fiction with the thriller Exposure (1991), Salles’ feature career was stalled by Brazil’s disastrous economic freeze in the first half of the 1990s. Though he remained active by making documentaries for European television, Salles opted to stay in Brazil and made one of the first key films in the industry’s resurgence, Foreign Land (1995). Co-directed by Daniela Thomas, the internationally acclaimed Foreign Land addressed the fallout from Brazil’s economy through a mystery yarn set… read more
Elia Suleiman is a Palestinian-Israeli film director and actor. He is best known for the 2002 film Divine Intervention, a modern tragic comedy on living under occupation in the Palestinian territories which won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Between 1982-1993, Suleiman lived in New York City, where he directed two short films: Introduction to the End of an Argument and Homage by Assassination, that won numerous awards.
In 1996, Suleiman directed Chronicle of a Disappearance, his first feature film. It won the Best First Film Prize at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. In 2002, Suleiman’s second feature film, Divine Intervention, subtitled, A Chronicle of Love and Pain, won the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes and the International Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize, also receiving the Best Foreign Film Prize at the European Awards in Rome. Suleiman was part of the jury for the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. —World Cinema Foundation
Along with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang became one of Taiwan’s most prominent directors during the 1990s. His films regularly appeared in festivals around the globe and he received lavish praise from film critics worldwide. Born in Malaysia in 1957, Tsai moved to Taiwan and graduated from the Chinese Cultural University in 1982. For the next ten years, he worked in theater and writing screenplays for films and television. He directed his first feature in 1992, Rebels of the Neon God, which, with its tough but tender depictions of disaffected youth, earned him comparisons to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In addition to Fassbinder, Tsai was also influenced by François Truffaut, to whom he was exposed as a student. His style differed from his idol Truffaut’s, however, like his countrymen Yang and Hou, Tsai preferred long takes, few close-ups, and sparse dialogue. And like another of his influences, Michelangelo Antonioni, he displayed a genius for placing the camera at… read more
A director who is capable of crafting both deeply unconventional independent films and mainstream crowd-pleasers, Gus Van Sant has managed to carve an enviable niche for himself in Hollywood. Since debuting in 1985 with Mala Noche, Van Sant has become one of the premiere bards of dysfunction, populating his films with a parade of hustlers, junkies, psychopathic weather girls, homicidal teens, and troubled geniuses.
The son of a traveling salesman, Van Sant was born in Louisville, KY, on July 24, 1952. One constant in the director’s early years was his interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. Van Sant’s artistic leanings took him to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970, where introduction to Avant-Garde cinema quickly inspired him to change his major from painting to cinema. After mobving to LA, Van Sant became fascinated by the existence of the marginalized section of L.A.‘s population, especially in context with the more ordinary prosperous world that surrounded them… read more
Born in Dusseldorf just after the end of World War II, German film director Wim Wenders grew up with an insatiable appetite for American movies. Not all that interested in big-budget products, he, instead, developed a fascination with B-movies, notably melodramas and Westerns. After studying Medicine and Philosophy in his native country, Wenders took up art in Paris (a mecca for viewing American films), and then returned to his homeland to attend Munich’s Academy of Film and Television. Like many of his French movie-fan brethren, Wenders began his career writing film criticism before directing a few short subjects of his own, and, in 1970, he and several other young filmmakers formed a production-distribution firm, Filmverlag Der Autoren. Summer in the City (1970) was Wenders’ first feature film, but it was his 1973 adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter that first brought him attention outside of Germany. The film included many accomplishments, most notably coaxing… read more
Born in Shanghai, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents at the age of five. Coming from the Mainland and speaking only Mandarin and Shanghainese, he had a difficult period of adjustment to Cantonese speaking Hong Kong, spending hours in movie theatres with his mother. He made his directing debut in 1988 with As Tears Go By, produced by Alan Tang. It was a crime melodrama of the kind then hugely popular, and with heavy borrowings from Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1974), but already displayed one of his principal trademarks in its atmospheric and sometimes expressionistic color palette. It is his only box office hit to date. Wong went on to direct several more feature films in the 1990s, among these were Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), Ashes of Time (1994). His first major international recognition was at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival where he won the Best Director prize for Happy Together (1997). The filming of In the Mood for Love (2000) had to be shifted from Beijing… read more
Zhang Yimou is one of the best-known directors of the Chinese Fifth Generation and one of the most influential and widely respected filmmakers working today. Zhang was born in 1950, in the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, to a future in Communist China that seemed unpromising; his father was an officer in Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Army and one of his brothers was accused of being a spy, while another fled to Taiwan. During the 1950s, his family’s background was suspect and during the convulsive tumult of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, it was criminal. Zhang was pulled out of high school and sent to toil with the peasants. Later, he transferred to a textile factory. While working there, Zhang reportedly sold his own blood to buy his first camera.
In 1978, at the age of 27, Zhang passed the entrance exam for the Beijing Film Academy but was rejected on account of his age. After an appeal to the Ministry of Culture, however, he was enrolled in the B.F.A.‘s class of 1982… read more
Characterizing themselves as “one person with four eyes,” Belgian filmmaker Luc Dardenne and his older brother Jean-Pierre rose to the forefront of international art cinema in the 1990s with such uncompromising, socially aware dramas as La Promesse (1996) and Rosetta (1999), depicting life in Belgium’s depressed industrial region near Liège on the Meuse River.
Born in Awirs, Dardenne grew up in a middle-class family in the working-class steel town Seraing. With schools closed during strikes, Dardenne was exposed to the upheavals of the 1960s labor movement during his formative years. While still in school, Dardenne frequently visited his older sibling in Brussels, where Jean-Pierre was studying acting under playwright Armand Gatti. Gatti, who often used nonprofessional actors, invited Luc to join his acting troupe. Though he got his degree in philosophy in the early ’70s, Luc was inspired by his time with Gatti to explore the creative and political possibilities of film and video… read more
Combining thoughtful eccentricity, wry humor, arch irony, and often brutal violence, the films of the Coen brothers have become synonymous with a style of filmmaking that pays tribute to classic American movie genres, especially film noir, while sustaining a firmly postmodern feel. Born in St. Louis Park, MN, in 1954, Joel Coen studied at New York University before moving into filmmaking in the early ‘80s. He and his younger brother began writing screenplays while Joel worked as an assistant editor on good friend Sam Raimi’s 1983 film The Evil Dead. In 1984, they made their debut with Blood Simple. Both of them wrote and edited the film (using the name Roderick Jaynes for the latter duty), while Joel took the directing credit and Ethan billed himself as the producer. It earned considerable critical acclaim and established the brothers as fresh, original talent. Their next major effort (after Crimewave, a 1985 film they wrote that was directed by Raimi), 1987’s Raising Arizona was a… read more
Born in St. Louis Park, MN, in 1957, Ethan Coen studied philosophy at Princeton University. Soon after he graduated, he and his brother began writing their first screenplays, and, in 1984, they made their debut with Blood Simple. Both of them wrote and edited the film, while Joel took the directing credit and Ethan billed himself as the producer. It earned considerable critical acclaim and established the brothers as fresh, original talent. Their next major effort (after Crimewave, a 1985 film they wrote that was directed by Sam Raimi), 1987’s Raising Arizona was a screwball comedy miles removed from the dark, violent content of their previous movie, and it won over critics and audiences alike. Their fan base growing, the Coens went on to make Miller’s Crossing (1990), a stark gangster epic with a strong performance from John Turturro, whom the brothers also used to great effect in their next film, Barton Fink (1991). Fink earned Joel a Best Director award and a Golden Palm at the 1991… read more
With a back-story (almost) as singular as his films, Danish director Lars von Trier was one of the most exceptional filmmakers to burst onto the international film scene in the 1990s. Unapologetically confident in his artistry and an unabashed provocateur, von Trier could kick up a fuss about his behavior, but his stylistic brio, extreme narratives, and ability with actors prevented such films as Zentropa (1991), The Kingdom (1994), Breaking the Waves (1996), and Dancer in the Dark (2000) from being eclipsed by their creator. Even as he openly sought a larger audience by making films in English, von Trier’s success helped resurrect Scandinavian cinema’s international prominence; his intense fear of flying ensured he’d never “go Hollywood.”
Raised by his radical, nudist Communist parents in an unconventional environment where, as von Trier once put it, everything was permitted except “feelings, religion and enjoyment,” von Trier blossomed into a neurotic, left-wing, movie-loving… read more