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Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan, Cairo-born, Canadian-bred and of Armenian descent, was raised in Victoria, BC, moving to Toronto at age 18 to study International Relations and classical guitar at the University of Toronto. It was there that he began to seriously explore the art and language of the cinema, and started making his own films which progressed to reflect his own, very personal thematic obsessions, delving into issues of intimacy, displacement and the impact of technology and media in modern life. His debut feature, Next of Kin (1984) earned Egoyan the Genie nomination (Canadian Academy Award) for Best Director, and went on to win Germany's Mannheim International Film Week Gold Ducat Award, receiving theatrical distribution around the world.

Family Viewing (1987) won the Locarno International Critics Prize, and was nominated for eight Genie Awards including Best Film, film gained wide notoriety when Wim Wenders declined the jury prize at the Montreal Film Festival for his own film Wings of Desire, and handed it over to Egoyan, his Canadian colleague. Next came Speaking Parts (1989), which marked his first Cannes premiere (Director's Fortnight), and earned even more international acclaim and Genie Award nods.

The Adjuster (1991) premiered at Cannes in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs, and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. It went on to capture the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. 1993's Calendar, shot in Armenia, earned the C.I.C.A.E. prize for Best Film in the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, and once again landed Egoyan Genie nominations for Best Direction and Screenplay.

Egoyan achieved a wider audience with the darkly mysterious Exotica (1994). The first English Canadian film to be invited into Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in nearly a decade, Exotica was awarded International Critics Prize for Best Film. Honored by festival and critical associations around the world, Exotica received major worldwide release, including a 500-screen US release from Miramax Films. In Canada, released by Alliance, Exotica played theatrically for over half a year. The film swept the Genies, earning eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997) had its world premiere in Official Competition at the 50 th Cannes Film Festival where it became the most-honored film of the Festival, winning The Grand Prize of the Jury as well as the International Critics Prize and the Ecumenical Award for Humanist filmmaking. The movie then opened the Toronto International Film Festival where it was doubly honored with both the International Critics Award and the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film. The Sweet Hereafter provided Egoyan a second sweep of the Genies by winning eight major awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sold to virtually every possible worldwide market, The Sweet Hereafter was the subject of unprecedented critical response, named to more than 250 major top-ten lists for 1997. The Sweet Hereafter held the top position on more than two-dozen of those lists, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. Egoyan received Academy Award nominations for his Directing and for his Adapted Screenplay. This made him the first Canadian to be so honored for work in a Canadian Film.

His two most recent film projects have been Irish in origin. In 1999, Egoyan directed Felicia' s Journey in Ireland and England. Based on the novel by William Trevor, starring Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy and Arsinée Khanjian, it premiered in competition at Cannes, before opening the Toronto Film Festival and holding the prestigious closing night spot at the New York Film Festival. Produced by Icon Entertainment, this film earned another four Genie Awards. Krapps Last Tape is an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's stage-play, starring John Hurt. This has been seen internationally since premiering in 2000.

His other works include many short films and original programs for television as well as a number of art installations presented internationally (including the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, Venice Biennale, and, Le Fresnoy in France). Exploring his long-standing interest in classical music, Egoyan made his debut as an opera director in 1996, with the Canadian Opera Company production of Salome. This production was subsequently presented in Houston and Vancouver before being remounted by the COC for a sold-out run in 2002. His original opera, Elsewhereless, composed by Rodney Sharman, written and directed by Egoyan premiered in Toronto in 1998, and was remounted in Vancouver. Later that year he directed the world premiere of Gavin Bryars' Dr. Ox's Experiment for English National Opera in London.

Egoyan's film works have been presented in numerous important retrospectives in major centers throughout the world. He has earned many exceptional honors in his career. There have been a number of books written about his work. TIME Magazine has named him to their Global 100, a roster of young leaders for the new millennium. He has been a member of the jury of the Cannes International Film Festival, and President of the Jury for Best First Feature Film at the Venice Film Festival. He was knighted by the French Government with the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, and has received the Anahid Literary Award from the Armenian Center at Columbia University, and was inducted into the Order of Canada. He has received honorary doctorates from universities across Canada.

His most recent work includes the installation Steenbeckett, for London's Artangel's 10 th anniversary, and Hors D'usage, for Montreal's Le Musée D'Art Contemporain, which opened in the August, 2002. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Atom Egoyan lives in Toronto, Canada with actress Arsinée Khanjian.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Atom Egoyan Facts

Birth NameAtom Yeghoyan
BirthdayJuly 19, 1960 (63)
BirthplaceCairo, Egypt

Selected Filmography

The Captive
Devil's Knot
Where The Truth Lies
Gross Misconduct
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