By: Nazia Adnin
An auteur is a director who develops his/her signature style of making films through distinctive cinematic language and visual story telling technique. Christopher Nolan has created a personal stamp through his works over the years which have defined him an auteur of 21st century.
Christopher Nolan was born in London to Brendan James Nolan and Christina. His childhood was split between London and Illinois. From a very young age Nolan knew he wanted to be a film maker. His father’s Super 8 camera his got magic touches when he was only 7 years old. Little Nolan was inspired by “Star Wars”, and around the age of 8 he had made a stop motion animation homage called “Space Wars”. His younger brother Jonathan Nolan has been one of his lifelong collaborators from the formative years. When Nolan family relocated to Chicago, he engaged himself into film making with Adrien and Roko Belic and continued to work on different projects in early 1990s. Nolan studied in English Literature at UCL where he demonstrated his love and passion for films and made two short films during college days. He met his future wife at UCL when he was 19.
After college graduation Nolan worked in the film industry in various roles. In 1997 he made is third short called “Doodlebug “. Nolan directed his first feature film “Following” in 1998 for which he received critical acclimations and the film won several awards at different film festivals. Subsequently, he was offered to direct his break through film “Memento” (2000), which is based on a short story written by Jonathan Nolan. Through this film Nolan broke all the traditional rules of visual storytelling and established himself as a promising auteur. “Memento” was a huge box office success and won two Oscar nominations. Nolan’s next film was psychological thriller “Insomnia” (2002), starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank. It was remake of Norwegian movie of the same name. Nolan’s direction added new perspectives and ideas into the film to answer questions on morality and guilt. In 2005 Nolan directed “Batman Begins”, first installment of his Batman trilogy. Nolan’s batman was dark, realistic and tells its origin story. Christian Bale played the lead role as Bruce Wayne aka Batman. Following both box office and critical success of Batman Begins, Nolan made two more Batman movies including “The Dark Knight (2008) and “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012). He continued experiencing box office success with sci-fi action “Inception” (2012). Nolan’s other notable works are “The Prestige” (2006), “Interstellar (2014) and Dunkirk (2017).
Since Nolan is regarded as auteur therefore, his films follow a distinguishing pattern and style. His story telling technique is very non-linear or des-linear. Most of his films are set against the backdrop of urban settings in modern locations and architecture. Nolan frames the dialogues scenes in wide close ups with shallow depth of field. Neo-noir or noir vibe is always present in most of his works. Documentary style lighting and gloomy ambiance are featured in his movies. He also pays close attention to sound design in order to make climax more realistic. Flashbacks, crosscutting of several scenes of parallel actions, flash forward these motifs are frequently used in Nolan’s films to demonstrate his auteur-ship.
Seasoned director has noted Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Terrence Mallick, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Nicolas Roeg, Sidney Lumet, David Lean, Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam and John Frankenheimer as influential figures on his works. He also finds inspiration in art and literature.
From the beginning of his career Nolan has created a complete new visual language of film making which is why he is considered as an auteur of 21st century. He truly is an auteur and a legendary director of our time.
By: Lindi Mugwara
Steven Soderbergh breaks the traditions of filmmaking in the same way as, the auteurs of the new wave era, like Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Goddard, who revolutionized cinema. Soderbergh’s impressionistic style has solidified his film making. He similarly plays by his own set of rules, ignoring the conventions of film, taking his own approach, that being his trademark for him as a filmmaker. He rarely repeats himself when it comes to making movies, evidenced by his breath of work. For the director’s cut for his film, The Limey (1999) he had this to say about his style of film making:
Steven Soderbergh was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 14, 1963 to Mary Ann, and Peter Andrews Soderbergh. He discovered film in his adolescence, directing short films on 8mm Super Film. He lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for a short period before moving to Baton Rogue, Louisiana. He enrolled in a film animation class at Louisiana State University. He started making 16mm short films.
Steven Soderbergh first feature film, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” (1989) was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme d’Or. At the age of 26, Soderbergh became the second youngest person to win the coveted prize. The success of the film propelled him to the top of independent cinema. He was lauded and praised by numerous people in the film industry, more notable by film critic Roger Ebert, who called him the “poster boy" of the Sundance generation. As stated previously he began his career in independent film, but throughout the evolution of his career has strayed away from that genre and has taken on a number of mainstream films. But still on occasion he makes small films on shoestring budgets such as “The Girlfriend Experience” (2009).
Soderbergh is mostly known as a film director but he assumes many roles in film production. Aside from writing and directing, Soderbergh often acts as his own director of photography, under the pseudonym of Peter Andrews, his father’s name. Additionally, he also regularly edits under the pseudonym Mary Ann Bernard, his mother’s maiden name. This demonstrates his many talents as an all round filmmaker.
Soderbergh filmography includes the heist film franchise the Ocean Eleven (2001), Ocean Twelve (2004), Ocean Thirteen (2007). As well as, Out of Sight (1998), Solaris (2002), The Good German (2006), Che (2008), The Informant (2009), Contagion (2011), Haywire (2012), Magic Mike (2012), Behind The Candelabra (2013), Side Effects (2013) etc.
For his films Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000), he received Oscar nominations for directing both films winning best director award for the latter. He is so far the only person to receive two directing Oscar nominations for two different films in the same year.
Soderbergh briefly retired from film making to focus on other projects. During his film hiatus he worked on the Cinemax series, The Knick, staring Clive Owen. A medical drama set in the 1900’s. He directed every episode of the two seasons and also shot and edited it. The series received critical acclaim. For his directional efforts he earned two Emmy nominations for season 1 and 2, respectively. The Knick is similar in style and execution as his previous film work. The changing landscape of TV is now attracting all kinds of filmmakers. TV series are essentially now seen as long form movies. He states this as the reason he took the job.
Soderbergh is constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in film. He truly is a master of his craft, a champion of cinema. His work will be referenced for years to come in the film community as a work of art, which it most certainly is.
By: Nazia Adnin
Veteran film maker Quentin Tarantino is best known for his 8 unpredictable, violent films. Iconic movie characters like “The Bride”, “Col Hans Landa’, “Lt Aldo Raine” “Vincent Vega” and many more are created by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino’s film making styles are very much expressed through his characters and motifs. He is an expert in using cinematic language in his works which are visually aesthetic.
Tarantino’s neo-noir crime thriller “Reservoir Dogs” is his break out film which was released in January, 1992. Tarantino used non- linear story telling technique in the film which established his own style of film making or genre. His next movie “Pulp Fiction” (1994) maintained aestheticization of violence as well as non –linear story lines. Tarantino appeared in and wrote the script for Rodriguez’s “From Dusk till Dawn” (1996). His third film was 1997 crime thriller “Jackie Brown.”
In early 2000s Tarentino wrote and direct highly stylized revenge flick “Kill Bill”. Volume 1 and volume 2 was released in 2003 and 2004 respectively. It was based on a character called The Bride and a plot that he and Kill Bill's lead actress Uma Thurman had developed during the making of Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino’s long awaited project “Inglourious Basterds” was released in 2009 to both positive critic reviews and box office success. After 3 years “Dijango Unchained” was released. It is a tribute movie to Spaghetti Westerns. His latest movie is “The Hateful Eight.” In recent years Tarantino has been active in the industry as a producer as well.
He has trademarked the trunk shot camera angle and used in every movie he directed. He frequently uses long takes and tracking shots. To emphasize the love and togetherness his use of 360 is remarkable. Tarantino has used “Black and White” sequences in couple of his films. They appear in “Kill Bill” and “Death Proof”.
Foot fetish, close of up of lips, map shots, dance scenes are few mention worthy motifs and elements that are found in Tarantino’s movies. These motifs along with other elements and distinctive camera angles create a new movie genre called “QT genre”.
Tarantino has bagged numerous awards and nominations throughout his life including two Academy awards, two Golden Globes, two BAFTA and the Palme d'Or. He was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time in 2005. In December 2015, Tarantino received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.
Quentin Tarantino is a maestro of this generation and truly an inspiring figure in the world of cinema. His contribution to the art form cannot be measured or described in words.
By: Nazia Adnin
According to a new report the number of female directors has fallen in Hollywood. In 2016, just 7% of the top 250 films were directed by women, a fall of 2% from the year before. This is not the case of Hollywood rather all over the world. Number of female directors decreased rapidly in almost every film industry for various reasons.
Agnes Varda was born on May 30, 1928, in Ixelles (Brussels), Belgium, the daughter of Christiane (née Pasquet) and Eugène Jean Varda, an engineer. In teen age she moved to France to live with the rest of her family. Her first introduction to film was through photography at Théâtre National Populaire when she started working as a photographer. Agnes Varda studied art history and photography.
Varda is an influential figure in modern French Cinema. Her career pre-dates of “French New Wave”. Varda always wanted to make films that relate to her time. She believes in experimenting with the style of film making than following traditional or classical styles. Varda’s works are considered as feminist since she uses female protagonists and has created a “female cinematic voice”. In the beginning of her career she was influenced by “Auteur Theory” and created her own signature style by using camera as a “pen.”
Because of the presence of the literary elements in Varda’s films belong more precisely to the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) cinema movement, along with Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean Cayrol and Henri Colpi. Their works often were inspired by left wing politics.
“La Pointe Courte” is one of Varda’s notable works. She was in her mid twenties with no training in film when she made it. The film is about an unhappy couple working through their relationship in a small fishing town, was released in 1954. “Cléo from 5 to 7” was her next movie. This movie demonstrates Varda’a thoughts on morality, existentialism and despair. This film also has a strong feminine point of view. Story of the film deals with some surrealism ideas starting with a young woman who is waits to hear the results of a medical test that will possibly confirm a diagnosis of cancer.
Jacquot de Nantes and The Gleaners and I are also Varda’s notable works, among many more. Throughout her lifetime Varda has received many prestigious awards .In 1985 she received Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival. In 2002 Agnès Varda was the recipient of the prestigious French Academy prize, René Clair Award. In May 2010 Varda received Directors' Fortnight's 8th Carosse d'Or award for lifetime achievement at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, Varda received an honorary Palme d'or, becoming the first woman to receive an honorary Palme d'or.
By: Nazia Adnin
Kathryn Bigelow is the first and only female director to have won the “Academy Award for Best director” to date. “The Hurt Locker” had won her the prestigious award in 2010. She also has bagged so many prestigious awards over the years and directed Oscar nominated performances.
California girl Kathryn is the only child of the manager of a paint factory and a librarian. She was born on 27th November 1951 in San Carlos, California. Her creativity endeavors began as a student of painting in early days of school. Kathryn received her “Bachelor in Arts” from San Francisco Art Institute in 1972. Later, seasoned film maker earned a scholarship to study film at Columbia University School of art, graduating in 1979.
“I can't change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies”, with this goal and determination Kathryn started making films in early 80s. Kathryn’s films are reflection of her inner thoughts and she believes it as a great opportunity to comment on the world(through films) in which we live. Her first full length feature was “Loveless” which came out in 1982. Nero –dark (1987) was the next film which she co-scripted with Eric-Red. In 1987 Kathryn directed a music video for the “New Order” song “Touched by the hand of God”; the video is a satire of glam metal imagery.
Kathryn established herself as both Hollywood brand and auteur through her action trilogy –“Blue steel”, “Point Break “and “Strange Days.” The three films feature gendered and racial politics. “Point Break” was Kathryn’s most profitable studio film featuring Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent. She directed an episode of the TV series called “West Palms” in 1993.
Her success story continues with “Zero Dark thirty”, a dramatization of American efforts to find Osama bin Laden. Although, the movie was critically successful one but it had raised some controversies and criticism for its allegedly pro-torture stance. The film received numerous numbers of prestigious awards including “National Board of Review Award” for Best Director making her the first woman to win that award.
Kathryn’s film making techniques are very distinct. She very often uses slow motion in action scenes which enhances the experience of watching those scenes for audiences. Her classic slow motion shots give audience prolonged and more detailed look at the landscape and explosions. She uses non-diegetic sound to create suspense. Hand-held camera effects involve the audience very deeply with the story and characters. Kathryn uses that method very often in suspenseful and terrifying shots.
By: Lindi Mugwara
Steve McQueen is an Academy award winning English director. Born October 9, 1969 in London, McQueen first started to take interest in film when he enrolled briefly at New York University's Tisch School of Arts. He later dropped out as he felt he was artistically limited there because he was not able to do certain things.
He followed that up with Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan about a man that struggles with sex addiction. McQueen frequently collaborates with Fassbender. Fassbender has appeared in all three of McQueen's films. Another constant collaborator of McQueen's is cinematographer Sean Bobbit who has lensed all three of his films. McQueen balances form (the look of the film) and content (the story) very well. His artistic approach is never compromised. One can call him an auteur without any doubt. McQueen proclaims to be an artist instead of a filmmaker.
Before delving into film McQueen made several artworks, many of which have been exhibited in art galleries and museums around Europe. McQueen artistic background has certainly crossed over into his films. He continues to inspire us all with his body of work. He has cited the influence of the nouvelle vague and the films of Andy Warhol. Very often he appears in his films. Mcqueen observes his surroundings very well and get elements from it for his movies. He has garnered many awards and prizes for his art works as well.
He was announced as one of the most influential people in the world in 2014 by Time Magazine. He indeed is an influential figure in the world of cinema. Mcqueen is a name of an auteur and inspiration.
By: Nazia Adnin
As a big big fan of U2, I was exposed to magnificent works of Anton Corbijn long before I thought of being a film maker. His amazing music videos were an indispensible part of my childhood and during harsh time of teen age. As rebel teen age in mid 2000s I would indulge myself into the music of U2, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and the list goes on. And most of those songs were perfectly articulated in the music videos directed by Anton Corbijn. He is a great mind and has great influence in my short career.
Anton shook both the movie and music world through his collaboration with handful of great bands of all time. He has made music videos for bands like Nirvana, U2, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Joy Divison, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave and Bad Seed, Cold Play, Arcade Fire etc. He also collaborated with artists like Johnny Cash, Bryan Adams, Naomi Campbell and many more.
Anton Corbijn is a Dutch photographer, music video director and film maker. He was born on May 20th, 1955 in Strrijen, Netherlands. Corbijn began his career as music photographer in 1975. His photography subjects include iconic figures and bands like Joy Division, David Bowie, Robert De Niro, Bob Dylan, Stephen Hawking, Client East Wood, U2, Simple Minds, The Cramps, Miles Davis, Marc Almond, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, R.E.M, The Killers, among others.
His has made music videos on numbers of popular songs including “One” “Pride” “Please” “Electric Storm” (U2).”A Question of time”,”Never let me down again”, “Personal Jesus,” “World in my eyes” ,”Walking in my shoes”, Suffer Well”(Depeche Mode), Reflektor (Arcade Fire), “Heart –Shaped Box”(Nirvana) ,”Hero of the day”(Metallica), “Delia’s gone” (Johnny Cash),”Do I have to say the words?(Bryan Adams),”All things that I have done”(The Killers) and many more. Music world has been blessed with his enormous contribution. Anton has demonstrated the profound connection between music and art of film making through his videos. His passion and love for both medium have produced some of the greatest time less music videos of the century.
In 2010 he came back as director with the movie “The American” starring George Clooney. Next year he directed a webcast by Coldplay from Madrid, Spain. He continued being a successful director onwards. In 2015 he released “Life” ,a film about James Dean and photographer Dennis Stock. Corbijn himself is the subject of Josh Whiteman's 2009 documentary film Shadow Play – The making of Anton Corbijn.
Anton Corbijn is a prodigy of our time with a brilliant mind and vision.
By: Nazia Adnin
Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time .His contribution to the word of cinema cannot be described in words. Over the course of his career he has mesmerized the world with ambitious, bold and brilliant works.
Scorsese is known for his signature style of editing, music, frequent collaboration with selective actors and imaginative way of creating. He is never stick to one genre .He is very vibrant and never fails to surprise through his unique style of making. And that makes him uniquely qualified to be both prolific and proficient.
In his review of Mean Streets, Roger Ebert said that Martin Scorsese had the potential to become the American Fellini in ten years. It probably didn’t really take that long to prove him right.
Descendant of Italian parents Scorsese was born in Queens, New York in 1942. His movies are reflections of his past and his personality-specially growing up in NY and inside Catholicism — from intimate experiences and curiosity. And that helps him to select subject matter and also applies to set tone of his films as well. Scorsese attended New York University and attained two college degrees from there.
Scorsese is one of the members of influential “Movie Brats” club. His friend list includes iconic movie makers like Coppela, Spielberg, George Lucas and Brian De Palma. He cited film makers Satyajit Ray, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Federico Fellini as a major influence on his career. In 1972 Scorsese made “Mean Street” which was a breakthrough for his career. Mean while his signature style was established -violence, fragility ,macho showdown of gangster ,catholic values, redemption ,guilt , emotions ,rapid fire editing and sound track on contemporary music.
He was given us more or less 31 films so far including classics like “Taxi Driver”, Wolf of Wall Street” “Hugo” ,”Goodfellas”, “Raging Bull”, “Shutter Island”, ”Casino”, “Gangs of New York”, “Mean Streets”, “The Aviator “ “After Hours” “The Departed and many more.
Martin Scorsese is a name of brand and institution himself. His skilled earned him countless numbers of awards, nominations, recognition and immense popularity in the movie industry. The Oscar winning director has bagged numerous numbers of awards in his career.
Acclaimed director and producer Marin Scorsese is a living legend and walking library on film. Thus, our tribute goes to this maestro.