American director and screenwriter Paul Schrader is one of the most important and celebrated filmmakers of the generation that gave birth to the New Hollywood. Originally transfixed by the cinema while studying at Columbia University, and after earning his master’s degree in film from UCLA, he started his career as a film critic. His book Trascendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer was published in 1972. Together with his brother Leonard, he wrote The Yakuza (directed by Sydney Pollack in 1974). He then wrote Taxi Driver (directed by Martin Scorsese in 1976) creating arguably one of cinema’s most memorable lead characters in Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). He teamed up with Martin Scorsese again to write Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Over the years Schrader garnered praise for both his writing and elegant directorial style in Blue Collar (1978), American Gigolo (1980), Cat People (1982), Mishima (1985), Light Sleeper (1992) Affliction (1997, presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Mezzanotte section), Auto Focus (2002) and Adam Resurrected (2008). Most recently he has directed The Canyons (2013), a thriller written by Bret Easton Ellis and starring Lindsay Lohan, presented this year in Venice, Out of Competition.
Catherine Corsini (France)
For three years Catherine Corsini attended the lectures of Antoine Vitez and Michel Bouquet at the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique in Paris. After working for some time in the theater as an actor and assistant, she chose to focus on writing and direction, chiefly as a consequence of her encounter with some students at the IDHEC. She has made a number of shorts, all of which have won awards. He first feature-length film was entitled Poker. In 1991 her film Interdit d’amour, with Nathalie Richard and Maxime Leroux, proved a hit with television audiences. In 1998, with a comedy on the generation gap called La nouvelle Eve (The New Eve), Corsini broke with the more dramatic tone of her early works. Two years later she made La répétition (Replay) with Emmanuelle Béart and Pascale Bussières; the film was entered for competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Les ambitieux (Ambitious) followed in 2006, while in 2009 Corsini took part in the Toronto Festival with the film Partir (Leaving), starring Kristin Scott-Thomas, Sergi Lopez and Yvan Attal. In 2011 she made Trois mondes (Three Worlds), with Raphaël Personnaz, Clotilde Hesme and Arta Dobroshi; the film was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 in the official selection Un Certain Regard.
Leonardo Di Costanzo (Italy)
In 2013 Leonardo Di Costanzo won the David di Donatello for Best New Director with the film L’intervallo (The Interval), presented in 2012 in the Orizzonti section of the 69th Venice Film Festival, where it had won, among others, the FIPRESCI and Pasinetti awards. L’intervallo has also been presented at the festivals in Toronto and London, at the Viennale, in Lisbon and at “New Directors/New Films,” held at the MoMA in New York. While L’intervallo is considered his debut in fictional cinema, Di Costanzo has long been making documentary films, in both Italy and France. The company Les Films d’Ici produced his Prove di Stato (1999), A scuola (At School, 2003), presented at the 60th Venice Film Festival (Territori section), and Cadenza d’inganno (2011), which have won prizes and awards at numerous international festivals. In addition to his work as a director, Di Costanzo teaches documentary cinema at the Ateliers Varan in Paris, the prestigious center for the training of documentary filmmakers founded by the pupils of Jean Rouch, of which the celebrated French director has been the honorary president for many years. Within the framework of Varan’s foreign activities, Di Costanzo has conducted workshops in Phnom Pen (in collaboration with the Cambodian directory Rithy Pan), Bogota, Belgrade, Tbilisi and Marrakesh. He has also held courses at the FEMIS in Paris and the EICTV in Cuba. He lives between Naples and Paris.
Golshifteh Farahani (Iran)
Iranian actress, daughter of the theater director Behzad Farahani. Her career began very soon since she started performing on stage at the age of six. When she was fourteen, she was cast as the lead actress in the movie Derakhte golabi (The Pear Tree, 1998) by Dariush Mehrjui for which she won the award for Best Actress at the 16th Fajr International Film Festival. Since then, she has played in more than fifteen movies. More recently, she has been playing in many rewarded movies like Bahman Ghobadi’s Niwemang (Half Moon, 2006), that won the Golden Shell at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival. She’s also been in Rasool Mollagholi Poor’s Mim mesle madar (M for Mother, 2006), which, after a huge success in Iran, was chosen to represent the country for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2008. In the same year, she played with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies. Thanks to this part, she became the first Iranian actress to play in a major Hollywood production. Her last film in Iran, Darbareye Elly (About Elly) directed by Asghar Farhadi in 2009, won a Silver Bear in Berlin and the Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca. In 2011, she played in Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi’s Poulet aux prunes (Chicken With Plums) with Mathieu Amalric and Edouard Baer. She has also been singing and playing the piano in Hiner Saleem’s Si tu meurs je te tue (2011). She played in Rachid Bouchareb’s Just Like a Woman in which she stars with Sienna Miller. They were both awarded Best Actress at the “Festival de la Fiction TV de la Rochelle” in 2012. Recently, Atiq Rahimi also chose her to be the lead of his bestseller novel cinematographic adaptation, Syngue Sabour, which he also directed, and Hiner Saleem offered her the leading part in his movie My Sweet Pepper Land.
Frédéric Fonteyne (Belgium)
Born in Brussels in 1968. With a passion for literature, drawing and painting, he studied film at the IAD in Belgium. He went on to make several shorts that won awards at numerous festivals: Bon anniversaire Sergent Bob (1988), Les Vloems (1989), La modestie (1991) and Bob le déplorable (1993). For his screenplays he turned from the outset to the writer and playwright Philippe Blasband. His first feature film Max et Bobo (1997), starring actors Jan Hammenecker and Alfredo Pea, won, among other things, the Main Award of the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival. His second feature, Une liaison pornographique (An Affair of Love, 1999), with Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez, was screened at the Venice Film Festival, where Nathalie Baye won the award for best actress. Fonteyne’s third film was an adaption of Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s novel, La femme de Gilles (Gilles’ Wife, 2004); with a cast made up of Emmanuelle Devos, Clovis Cornillac and Laura Smet, it also took part in the Venice Film Festival, winning the CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) Award. Tango libre, his fourth feature film, starring François Damiens, Sergi Lopez, Jan Hammenecker and Anne Paulicevich, was shortlisted at the 2012 Venice Film Festival and won the Special Prize of the Orizzonti Jury. A few months later the film won the Main Award of the Warsaw Festival. Frédéric Fonteyne, in addition, regularly holds workshops of performance and direction at film and drama schools in Belgium and France.
Kseniya Rappoport (Russia)
She was born in 1974 in St. Petersburg, where she graduated from the Theater Art Academy in 2001. She has had a rich theatrical and cinematic career, playing Nina Zarechnaya in Chekhov’s The Seagull, Jocasta in Sophocles’ Edipus Rex, Elena Andreovna in Chekov’s Uncle Vania, Beatrice in Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters and Lady Milford in Schiller’s Intrigue and Love. In 2006 she played the enigmatic Irena in Giuseppe Tornatore’s La sconosciuta (The Unknown Woman), a film that won a series of awards at the David di Donatello in 2007, including the one for Best Actress. In 2008 took the part of Sara in Maria Sole Tognazzi’s L’uomo che ama (The Man Who Loves) and in the same year that of Lyubov in Kiril Srebrennikov’s Yurev den (Yuri’s Day). This performance won her the White Elephant, the highest recognition of the Russian Guild of Film Critics, as Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Golden Eagle Award of the National Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences of Russia. In 2009 she won the Volpi Cup at the 66th Venice International Film Festival for her performance as Sonia in Giuseppe Capotondi’s La doppia ora (The Double Hour). The same year she appeared in Giovanni Veronesi’s comedy Italians. In 2010 she played Lisa in Ricky Tognazzi’s Il padre e lo straniero (The Father and the Foreigner), while in 2011 she was Masha in Dva dnya (Two Days), directed by Dunya Smirnova, a role for which she received the Golden Eagle Award as Best Actress from the National Academy of Motion Pictures and Science of Russia in 2012. In that same year, for the role of Lyubov in Yurev den, she won the Golden Lion of the province of Messina at the Taormina Film Festival.
Amr Waked (Egypt)
Born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1972. He studied economics and theater at the American University in Cairo. At the beginning of his career as an actor, Waked joined the Temple Theatre Troop in 1994 and the Yaaru Theatre Troop in 1999, where he received his training and developed his skills as a stage performer. Drawing on his onstage experience, Waked was able to play his first role on the big screen in 1998 when he joined the cast of Ossama Fawzy’s Gannet El Shayateen. Waked’s award-winning performance paved the way for him to become a popular actor, famous for his gravity and vast range. In 2003, Waked joined the cast of Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana, his first appearance in an international movie. His performance was very well-received and brought him other opportunities in international productions, such as House of Saddam and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. In 2005, Waked cofounded “zad communication & production llc,” marking the beginning of his experience as a producer. The communication agency and production house was to focus on developmental and social issues in Egypt and the Middle East. In 2012, zad produced its first feature film, El sheita elli fat (Winter of Discontent), directed by Ibrahim El Batout, which had its première at the 69th Venice International Film Festival in 2012.