The older half of Europe's most celebrated film-making sibling duo, Jean-Pierre Dardenne helped put Belgian cinema on the map alongside younger brother Luc thanks to a distinctive series of low-budget and starkly realistic films which gave a voice to those on the fringes of society, becoming one of the few directors to win the coveted Palme d'Or twice in the process. Born in the steel town of Seraing, Liege in 1951, Dardenne took an interest in political issues from a young age, regularly skipping school to attend strikes and rallies. Forbidden to watch television by his father while growing up, Dardenne then rebelled against his family aged 17 when he moved to Brussels to study acting, where he was taken under the wing of acclaimed playwright Armand Gatti. After serving as an assistant on several theater productions in the early 1970s, Dardenne then teamed up with his sibling to form a documentary production company, Derives, which would set the socially-conscious tone for their career. Having tackled everything from the Nazi resistance to Polish immigration in over 60 TV documentaries, the Dardennes switched their attention to fiction with "Falsch" (1987), an adaptation of Rene Kalisky's semi-autobiographical play, and "Je pense a vous" (1992), a relatively conventional tale of a steel worker who struggles to deal with the hardships of unemployment. But it was "La Promesse" (1996), an intensely personal story of a teenager forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his father, where the brothers first began to master their trademark blend of handheld camerawork, naturalistic lighting and everyday dialogue. Continuing to explore the world of the outsider, "Rosetta" (1999) not only saw the pair become the first ever Belgian filmmakers to win the Palme d'Or, but spurred on a change in their homeland's labor laws thanks to its depiction of a blue-collar worker's desperate search for a job. Ignoring any temptations their new-found international exposure might have offered, the duo stuck to their stripped-back approach for "Le fils" (2002), a meditation on the relationship between a grieving father and his son's murderer, and their second Palme d'Or winner, "L'Enfant" (2005), the story of a petty criminal whose life spirals out of control after selling his son. After contributing the "Dans l'Obscurite" segment to the "To Each His Own Cinema" (2007) anthology, the Dardennes then directed the tale of an Albanian immigrant who loses her moral compass when chasing her dream of opening a snack shop in "Lorna's Silence" (2008). Based on the true story of an abandoned Japanese boy, "The Kid With A Bike" (2011) saw the pair embrace a brighter aesthetic, fairy tale narrative and musical soundtrack for the first time, resulting in the highest-grossing hit of their career and a Golden Globe nomination to boot. But they then returned to more sobering fare with "Two Days, One Night" (2014), a timely drama about a woman who tries to convince her colleagues to give up their annual bonus in order to help save her job.
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Sets up documentary production company Derives
Wins Palme d'Or with "Rosetta"
Directs Golden Globe-nominated "The Kid With A Bike"