French writer-director Anne Fontaine became a critical and box office favorite in the '90s and 2000s on the strength of her complicated, often intense dramas about love and sexuality, which included "Dry Cleaning" (1997), "Coco Before Chanel" (2009) and "Adore" (2013). A former dancer and actress, Fontaine established herself on the arthouse circuit with the Cesar-nominated "Dry Cleaning," about a couple's involvement with a drag performer. The film set the tone for her subsequent work, which included the provocative "Nathalie." (2003), which served as the inspiration for Atom Egoyan's 2009 film "Chloe," before achieving a major international hit with the BAFTA-nominated "Chanel," starring Audrey Tautou. Her first English-language film, "Adore," with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, followed in 2013. Fontaine's uncompromising body of work and the critical acclaim it generated underscored her status as a major figure in world film.
Born Fontaine Sibertin-Blanc in Luxembourg on July 15, 1959, she moved to Lisbon, Portugal as a young child to join her father. Fontaine later relocated to Paris, where she trained as a dancer. While there, she was selected by actor/director Robert Hossein for a 1980 theatrical production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Fontaine then shifted her focus to acting, making her screen debut in David Hamilton's softcore/arthouse drama "Tendres Cousines" ("Tender Cousins") (1980). She worked steadily throughout the 1980s, largely in television, before making her first foray into directing with "Les histoires d'amour finissent mal. en géneral" ("Love Affairs Usually End Badly") (1993), a drama about a self-centered young woman pursued by two suitors. Two years later, she cast her brother, the actor Jean-Chrétien Sibertin-Blanc, as a simple-minded clerk with aspirations to become an actor, in the comedy "Augustin" (1995). Fontaine's first international hit was 1997's "Dry Cleaning," about a married couple that becomes entranced by a young cabaret performer, played by Stanilas Merhar. The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 1997 Venice Film Festival, which firmly established Fontaine at the forefront of French art cinema.
Fontaine continued to address issues of romantic and sexual relationships in her subsequent films: in "How I Killed My Father" (2001), the children of a long-missing doctor are thrown into turmoil by his return, while "Nathalie." (2003) finds Fanny Ardant using prostitute Emmanuelle Béart to seduce and report on her husband, played by Gerard Depardieu. Fontaine then scored another huge international hit with "Coco Before Chanel" (2009), a biopic about the early days of famed designer Coco Chanel (played by Audrey Tautou). The film received three BAFTA and six Cesar nominations, among numerous other accolades. In 2013, Fontaine received mixed reviews for the English-language drama "Adore," with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as two women embroiled in relationships with each other's sons.
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Discovered by Robert Hossein, who casts her in a theatrical version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
Screen debut in "Tender Cousins"
First film as writer-director with "Love Affairs Usually End Badly"
Scored an international hit with "Coco Before Chanel"
First English-language film with "Adore"