TOP 50 FOREIGN DIRECTORS

by slavov-daniel | created - 22 Oct 2013 | updated - 02 Nov 2013 | Public

The best not American and not British directors.Many of them made movies as well in US. I didn't include directors who are born abroad but they did movies only in US.

1. Milos Forman

Director | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in ...

2. Roman Polanski

Actor | Chinatown

Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933.

His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years ...

3. Costa-Gavras

Director | Missing

Costa-Gavras was born on February 12, 1933 in Loutra-Iraias, Greece as Konstantinos Gavras. He is a director and writer, known for Missing (1982), Amen. (2002) and Z (1969). He has been married to Michèle Ray-Gavras since 1968. They have two children.

4. Pedro Almodóvar

Writer | Hable con ella

The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study ...

5. Luis Buñuel

Writer | Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

The father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of the film medium, Luis Buñuel was given a strict Jesuit education (which sowed the seeds of his obsession with both religion and subversive behavior), and subsequently moved to Madrid to study at the ...

6. François Truffaut

Writer | La nuit américaine

French director François Truffaut began to assiduously go to the movies at age seven. He was also a great reader but not a good pupil. He left school at 14 and started working. In 1947, aged 15, he founded a film club and met André Bazin, a French critic, who became his protector. Bazin helped the ...

7. Vittorio De Sica

Director | Ladri di biciclette

Vittorio De Sica grew up in Naples, and started out as an office clerk in order to raise money to support his poor family. He was increasingly drawn towards acting, and made his screen debut while still in his teens, joining a stage company in 1923. By the late 1920s he was a successful matinee ...

8. Wolfgang Petersen

Director | Das Boot

This director seems to shine most when making movies that can best be described as part action movies/part disaster movies.

Beginning with Outbreak (1995) about the outbreak of a killer virus. This film had shades of an Irwin Allen disaster movie, The Swarm (1978), about the outbreak of killer bees....

9. Yimou Zhang

Director | Ying xiong

Yimou Zhang was born on November 14, 1951 in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. He is a director and writer, known for Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004) and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006).

10. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro was born October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico. Raised by his Catholic grandmother, del Toro developed an interest in filmmaking in his early teens. Later, he learned about makeup and effects from the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist (1973)) and worked on making his ...

11. Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Producer | Biutiful

Alejandro González Iñárritu (ih-nyar-ee-too), born August 15th, 1963, is a Mexican film director.

González Iñárritu is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and by the Directors Guild of America for Best Director. He is also the first Mexican-born ...

12. Alejandro Amenábar

Writer | The Others

Is the son of a Spanish mother and a Chilean father. His family moved back to Spain when he was 1 year old, and he grew up and studied in Madrid. He wrote, produced and directed his first short film La cabeza at the age of 19, and he was 23 when he directed his feature debut Thesis (1996). His film ...

13. Fernando Meirelles

Director | Blindness

Fernando Meirelles was born in a middle class family in São Paulo City, Brazil.

He studied architecture at the university of São Paulo. At the same time he developed an interest in filmmaking. With a group of friends he started producing experimental videos and video art. They won a huge number of ...

14. Paul Verhoeven

Director | Zwartboek

Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris (1969), about a medieval ...

15. Luc Besson

Writer | The Fifth Element

Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. His early life was entirely aquatic. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of The Big Blue (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...

16. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Ran

After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

17. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the ...

18. Fritz Lang

Actor | Le mépris

Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. ...

19. Sergio Leone

Writer | Once Upon a Time in America

Sergio Leone was virtually born into the cinema - he was the son of Roberto Roberti (A.K.A. Vincenzo Leone), one of Italy's cinema pioneers, and actress Bice Valerian. Leone entered films in his late teens, working as an assistant director to both Italian directors and U.S. directors working in ...

20. Giuseppe Tornatore

Writer | La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano

Giuseppe Tornatore was born on May 27, 1956 in Bagheria, Sicily, Italy. He is a writer and director, known for The Legend of 1900 (1998), The Best Offer (2013) and Cinema Paradiso (1988).

21. Bernardo Bertolucci

Writer | Ultimo tango a Parigi

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director whose films were known for their colorful visual style, was born in Parma, Italy. He attended Rome University and became famous as a poet. He served as assistant director for Pier Paolo Pasolini in the film Accattone (1961) and directed The Grim Reaper (...

22. Federico Fellini

Writer |

The women who both attracted and frightened him and an Italy dominated in his youth by Mussolini and Pope Pius XII - inspired the dreams that Fellini started recording in notebooks in the 1960s. Life and dreams were raw material for his films. His native Rimini and characters like Saraghina (the ...

23. Roberto Benigni

Actor | La vita è bella

Roberto Benigni was born on October 27, 1952 in Manciano La Misericordia, Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany, Italy as Roberto Remigio Benigni. He is an actor and writer, known for Life Is Beautiful (1997), The Tiger and the Snow (2005) and Down by Law (1986). He has been married to Nicoletta Braschi ...

24. Jean-Pierre Melville

Actor | À bout de souffle

The name "Melville" is not immediately associated with film. It conjures up images of white whales and crackbrained captains, of naysaying notaries and soup-spilling sailors. It is the countersign to a realm of men and their deeds, both heroic and villainous. It is the American novel, with its ...

25. Lasse Hallström

Director | What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Lasse Hallström was born on June 2, 1946 in Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden as Lars Hallström. He is a director and writer, known for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Chocolat (2000) and My Life as a Dog (1985). He has been married to Lena Olin since March 18, 1994. They have one child. He was...

26. John Woo

Director | Ying hung boon sik

Born in southern China, John Woo grew up in Hong Kong, where he began his film career as an assistant director in 1969, working for Shaw Brothers Studios. He directed his first feature in 1973 and has been a prolific director ever since, working in a wide variety of genres before A Better Tomorrow ...

27. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Director | Das Leben der Anderen

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was born on May 2, 1973 in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany as Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck. He is a director and writer, known for The Lives of Others (2006), The Tourist (2010) and Never Look Away (2018). He is married to ...

28. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly ...

29. Juan José Campanella

Writer | El secreto de sus ojos

Juan José Campanella was born on July 19, 1959 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a writer and actor, known for The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), The Man of Your Dreams (2011) and El mismo amor, la misma lluvia (1999).

30. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

31. Werner Herzog

Director | Fitzcarraldo

Director. Writer. Producer. Actor. Poet. He studied history, literature and theatre for some time, but didn't finish it and founded instead his own film production company in 1963. Later in his life, Herzog also staged several operas in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has...

32. Susanne Bier

Director | Hævnen

Though Academy Award®, Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award winning writer and director Susanne Bier's films often play out against a wide-reaching global backdrop, their focus is intimate, carefully exploring the explosive emotions and complexities of familial bonds. This unique combination is part ...

33. Mathieu Kassovitz

Actor | Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

Mathieu Kassovitz was born on August 3, 1967 in Paris, France. He is an actor, known for Amélie (2001), La Haine (1995) and The Crimson Rivers (2000). He is married to Julie Mauduech. They have one child.

34. Emir Kusturica

Director | Underground

A Serbian film director. Born in 1954 in Sarajevo. Graduated in film directing at the prestigious Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague in 1978. During his studies, he was awarded several times for his short movies including Guernica (1978), which took first prize at the Student's Film ...

35. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Director | Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a self-taught director who was very quickly interested by cinema, with a predilection for a fantastic cinema where form is as important as the subject. Thus he started directing TV commercials and video clips (such as Julien Clerc in 1984). At the same time he met designer/...

36. Claude Lelouch

Director | Un homme et une femme

He started off by making short films for television on which he was producer,screenwriter and cameraman. This was interrupted by military service in the army but only partly as he was put into the army film unit where he made over 100 films. Demobbed in 1960 he used family money for his first ...

37. Hany Abu-Assad

Director | Omar

Hany Abu-Assad a Palestinian/Dutch movie director and writer. From the famous movies Abu-Assad has directed so far are : Rana's Wedding (2002), Paradise Now (2005) and Omar (2013), The mountains between us (2017). He has been nominated twice for Academy Awards for his movies 'Paradise Now' in 2006 ...

38. Georges Lautner

Director | Les tontons flingueurs

Georges Lautner was born on January 24, 1926 in Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France. He was a director and writer, known for Monsieur Gangster (1963), La maison assassinée (1988) and Galia (1966). He was married to Caroline Lautner. He died on November 22, 2013 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine...

39. Krzysztof Kieslowski

Writer | Trois couleurs: Bleu

Krzysztof Kieslowski graduated from Lódz Film School in 1969, and became a documentary, TV and feature film director and scriptwriter. Before making his first film for TV, Przejscie podziemne (1974) (The Underground Passage), he made a number of short documentaries. His next TV title, Personnel (...

40. Claude Berri

Writer | Jean de Florette

Claude Berri was born on July 1, 1934 in Paris, France as Claude Berel Langmann. He was a producer and actor, known for Jean de Florette (1986), The Two of Us (1967) and Hunting and Gathering (2007). He was married to Anne-Marie Rassam and Sylvie Gautrelet. He died on January 12, 2009 in Paris.

41. Thomas Vinterberg

Director | Jagten

With Last Round (1993) (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury's and Producers' Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular ...

42. Tom Tykwer

Writer | Lola rennt

Director, writer, producer and composer Tom Tykwer was born in 1965 in Wuppertal, Germany. He showed an interest in film-making from childhood, making super 8 films from the age of 11. Among his first jobs was working at a local art-house cinema. Tykwer eventually relocated to Berlin, first working...

43. Walter Salles

Director | Central do Brasil

Walter Salles was born on April 12, 1956 in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as Walther Moreira Salles Jr. He is a director and producer, known for Central Station (1998), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and Foreign Land (1995). He is married to Maria Klabin. They have one child.

44. Denis Villeneuve

Director | Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve is a French Canadian film director and writer. He was born in 1967, in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada. He started his career as a filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada. He is best known for his feature films Arrival (2016), Sicario (2015), Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), ...

45. Denys Arcand

Writer | Les invasions barbares

One of Québec's most politically aware filmmakers, Denys Arcand studied history at Université de Montréal, where he co-directed Alone or with Others (1962) with Denis Héroux and co-written with Stéphane Venne. He joined the National Film Board (NFB) in 1963, where his feature-length documentary on ...

46. Jacques Audiard

Writer | De rouille et d'os

Born in Paris, France, in 1952. Jacques Audiard's family has always been involved in movie business. His father, Michel, was a popular screenwriter and director and his uncle a producer. But in his teens he refused that world and wanted to be a teacher. He studied literature and philosophy at the ...

47. Caroline Link

Director | Nirgendwo in Afrika

Caroline Link was born on June 2, 1964 in Bad Nauheim, Hesse, Germany. She is a director and writer, known for Nowhere in Africa (2001), Beyond Silence (1996) and Annaluise & Anton (1999).

48. Patrice Leconte

Director | La fille sur le pont

Patrice Leconte was born on November 12, 1947 in Paris, France. He is a director and writer, known for The Girl on the Bridge (1999), Ridicule (1996) and Monsieur Hire (1989).

49. Alain Resnais

Director | Hiroshima mon amour

Alain Resnais was born on June 3, 1922 in Vannes, Morbihan, France as Alain Pierre Marie Jean Georges Resnais. He was a director and editor, known for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Same Old Song (1997) and My American Uncle (1980). He was married to Sabine Azéma and Florence Malraux. He died on March...

50. Roland Suso Richter

Director | Der Tunnel

Roland Suso Richter was born on January 7, 1961 in Marburg, Hesse, Germany. He is a director and production manager, known for The Tunnel (2001), A Handful of Grass (2000) and Sara Amerika (1999).



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