Family & Companions
Capable of tackling everything from slow-burning period pieces to thrilling neo-noirs to anarchic comedies, Parisian Olivier Assayas was a gifted director and screenwriter whose work became synonymous with the film movement known as the New French Extremity. The son of filmmaker Jacques Rémy, Assayas began his career as a critic for influential magazine Cahiers du Cinema, where he wrote lovingly about the European and Asian directors who would later inform his own pictures. After working on several shorts, he then made the leap from writer to screenwriter on two collaborations with Andre Techine before moving to the director's chair himself for psychological teen drama "Disorder" (1986). Assayas only began to attract attention outside his homeland a decade later with industry satire "Irma Vep" (1996), but then continued to be embraced by arthouse audiences worldwide thanks to the likes of costume drama "Les destinees" (2000), postmodern fable "Demonlover" (2002) and coming-of-age tale "Something In The Air" (2012), while also courting the mainstream with acclaimed miniseries "Carlos" (Canal+, 2010).
Born in Paris, France in 1955, Assayas became inspired to forge a career in the arts by his film-making father, Jacques Rémy, but initially, it was his interest in painting and French literature that occupied most of his time. However, after helping his ailing father by ghost-writing several episodes of the detective series "Les Enquetes du commissaire Maigret" (ORTF, 1967-1990), Assayas switched his focus to the world he'd grown up with, going onto write various shorts including "Copyright" (1979), "Laisse inacheve a Tokyo" (1982) and "Winston Tong en studio" (1984), while simultaneously holding down a film critic position at Cahiers du Cinema. Assayas became renowned as the publication's most authoritative voice on the emerging Asian scene thanks to his involvement in the seminal 1984 issue, "Made In Hong Kong," but also regularly wrote lovingly about the European directors he admired such as Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman, all of whom would later inadvertently help shape his own directorial career.
After writing the script for provocative erotic drama "Rendez-vous" (1985), the first of several collaborations with post-New Wave auteur Andre Techine, Assayas directed his first feature film, "Disorder" (1986), a tale of three teen musicians forced to deal with the aftermath of a burglary that goes tragically wrong. Assayas continued to lend his considerable writing talents to various projects including the adaptation of Ismail Kadare's novel "Avril brise" (1987) and Portuguese comedy drama "Filha da Mae" (1990). But he arguably saved his best work for his own directorial efforts, including austere chiller "Winter's Child" (1989), big city drama "Paris s'eveille" (1991) and the semi-autobiographical "L'eau froide" (1994), the latter of which received its first screening at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. But although Assayas had established himself as the darling of independent French cinema, the rest of the world only really began to take notice with "Irma Vep" (1996), a tribute to both director Louis Feuillade and Hong Kong cinema which also starred his future wife Maggie Cheung.
Following a documentary on his favorite Taiwanese filmmaker, "HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien" (1997), Assayas worked with another future spouse, Mia Hansen-Løve, on interweaving romantic drama "Late August, Early September" (1998) and added to his list of screenwriting credits when he reunited with Techine for emotionally-damaging love story "Alice and Martin" (1998). Assayas then showcased his versatility by helming "Les destinees" (2000), an elegant three-decade-spanning drama about the inhabitants of an early 20th century French town, and "Demonlover" (2002), a wild technological neo-noir about interactive anime 3-D porn, in quick succession, the latter of which also saw him film in the English language for the first time. Assayas then teamed up with his recently divorced partner Cheung on "Clean" (2004), an intense account of a rock star's struggle to kick her drug habit which deservedly earned its leading lady the Best Actress Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Assayas then cast Maggie Gyllenhaal to appear in his "Quartier des Enfants Rouges" segment in the multi-national anthology "Paris, je t'aime" (2006), before returning to the erotic thriller with the story of a former prostitute forced to flee a debt-ridden lover in "Boarding Gate" (2007). Produced in part by the French gallery Musee d'Orsay, "Summer Hours" (2008) saw Assayas pick up a string of accolades and some of the best reviews of his career for its poignant meditation on family life, while a two-part documentary chronicling the Ballet Prejlocaj, "Prejlocaj" (2007) and "Eldorado" (2008), enjoyed similar acclaim. But it was 2010's "Carlos" (Canal+, 2010), a dynamic five-hour-plus miniseries based on the life of the 1970s international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, which gave Assayas his biggest international hit, winning a Golden Globe and several U.S. Film Critics Awards. Assayas stuck to the same era for his next venture, "Something In The Air" (2012), a coming-of-age tale set amid the fallout of the May '68 uprising, before working with the likes of Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz on his first full English-language feature, "Clouds of Sils Maria" (2014). In late 2014, Assayas was set to direct the crime thriller "Idol's Eye" with Robert De Niro and Robert Pattinson, but the production was shut down due to a financing issue just as shooting was getting underway, with no plans to continue with the same creative team.
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Made first short film "Copywright"
Was a critic for Cahiers du Cinema
Debut feature "Desordre/Disorder"
Won praise for "Winter's Child"
First film to garner attention in the USA "Paris at Dawn"
Helmed "Irma Vep" starring Maggie Cheung
Helmed the documentary "HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien," about Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Directed Chloë Sevigny and Connie Nielsen in "Demonlover"
Once again directed Maggie Cheung in "Clean"
Wins Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for "Carlos" (Canal+, 2010)
Releases first English-language film, "Clouds of Sils Maria"