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Mohsen Makhmalbaf is one of the towering figures in Iranian cinema. Arguably more political than Abbas Kiarostami, the two directors nevertheless share a style of filmmaking that is both poetic and profoundly humane. His breakthrough feature was 'The Cyclist' (1987), a deceptively simple parable about a man attempting to raise money for his gravely ill wife's treatment. That film was also the basis of a real-life case of a man impersonating Makhmalbaf that Kiarostami filmed as 'Close-Up' (1990). 'Gabbeh' (1996) and 'The Silence' (1998) were more lyrical ruminations on daily life in Iran, a stark contrast to the turbulent world of 'Kandahar' (2001) set in post 9/11 Afghanistan and detailing both the fall of the Taliban and the occupation by American forces. At the same time, Makhmalbaf was instrumental in starting the filmmaking careers of two of his daughters, Samira and Hanna. 'The President' (2014) once again looked at politics, but from the top down, offering up a satirical take on institutionalised power.
Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, born in 1966, is one of the most important female filmmakers in world cinema as one of the founding members of the New Argentine Film movement of the 1990s. Her style is minimalist and multi-layered, seamlessly combining image and sound in order to create suffocating, claustrophobic narratives.
A French filmmaker who works with Olivier Duscatel, best known for balancing gay themes with comedy, his most popular international film has been 'Cockles and Mussels' (2005). His most recent film, 'Theo & Hugo' (2016) is a rhapsodic love letter to Paris, as the eponymous couple leave a gay club late one weekend night and wander the streets of the French capital.
Travis Mathews is an award-winning filmmaker whose films focus on gay men and intimacy. Informed with a Masters in Counselling Psychology and a background in documentary, Travis takes a thoughtful and naturalistic approach to filmmaking while maintaining his sense of humour. His first feature film was 'I Want Your Love' (2012).
Kleber Mendonça Filho was born in 1968 in Recife, Brazil. He graduated in journalism and has worked as a film critic and also as a film programmer in Recife's top alternative cinema. Over the last decade, his short films have won over 100 awards in Brazil and abroad. 'Neighbouring Sounds' (2012) is his first fiction feature.
Roger Michell was born in South Africa in 1956. He attended Cambridge University, and graduated in 1977. He moved to London and began an apprenticeship at the Royal Court Theatre and was an assistant director to famous playwrights such as Samuel Beckett. Michell moved onto to directing many award-winning TV series and films before directing 'Notting Hill' (1999), the highest grossing British film of all time.
Born in 1960 near Osaka, Japan, Takashi Miike is a highly prolific director who has more than 80 films to his name since making his directorial debut in the early 90s. Although his films are often associated with black humour, inventive violence and audacious style, Miike has shown his versatility in other genres by making children's dramas and a horror musical. His landmark films include 'Ichi the Killer' (2001) and '13 Assassins' (2010).
Since 1999, Yves Montmayeur has directed documentaries about films which are regularly screened at international festivals, with a predilection for Asian cinema and directors from countries such as Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. Yves has also made portraits of eccentric authors and unusual personalities: Michael Haneke, cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Italian actress-director, Asia Argento.
Nanni Moretti, born in 1953, is an Italian director, screenwriter and actor, best known for directing 'Dear Diary' (1993), which was followed in 1998 by a sequel 'Aprile'. His 2001 film 'The Son's Room' won the Palme d'Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Moretti is also an avid water polo player, and an outspoken political leftist.
His winning the Palme d’Or cemented the position of the Romanian New Wave on the landscape of world cinema. But a glance at the filmmaker’s acclaimed features highlights the tenuousness grouping one generation of filmmakers together. After a series of successful shorts and the solid feature 'Occident' (2002), '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' (2007) revealed the breadth of Cristian Mungiu’s talent. An extraordinary drama that runs the gamut from tense, thriller-like scenes to biting satire, the film’s strength nevertheless lies in its profound humanity. This was further explored in 'Beyond the Hills' (2012), which won Mungiu the Best Screenplay award at Cannes and saw its two leads (Cristina Flutur) and (Cosmina Stratan) share the Best Actress prize. They play two friends from childhood whose shared traumas are relived through the strict rules of a convent one of them lives in and to which the other seeks refuge. It is a startling and powerful indictment of religious hypocrisy. 'Graduation' (2017), which was awarded the Best Director prize at Cannes in 2016, returns to a more familiar territory explored by other Romanian New Wave directors – the insidiousness of the behaviour amongst members of the ruling class. Once again, Mungiu’s eye captures the nuances of human dynamics and his wry humour is never far away.