Olivier Assayas

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Olivier Assayas
Viennale 2010.10.30 Olivier Assayas.jpg
Born (1955-01-25) 25 January 1955 (age 60)
Paris, France
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, film critic
Known for Cold Water, Irma Vep, Clean
Spouse(s) Maggie Cheung (1998–2001)
Mia Hansen-Løve (2009–present)

Olivier Assayas (born 25 January 1955) is a French film director, screenwriter and film critic.

Life and career[edit]

Assayas was born in Paris, France, the son of French director/screenwriter Raymond Assayas, alias Jacques Rémy (1911–1981). His father was of Italian Jewish origin and his mother was of Protestant Hungarian origin.[1][2][3][4] Assayas started his career in the industry by helping his father. He ghostwrote episodes for TV shows his father was working on when his health failed.

He made his debut in 1986, after directing some short films and writing for the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma.

Assayas's film Cold Water was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

His biggest hit to date has been Irma Vep, starring Hong Kong star Maggie Cheung, which manages to be a tribute both to French director Louis Feuillade and to Hong Kong cinema.

While working at Cahiers du cinéma, Assayas wrote lovingly about European film directors he admires but also about Asian directors. One of his films, HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is a documentary about Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

He married Hong Kong movie actress Maggie Cheung in 1998. They divorced in 2001, but their relationship remained amicable, and in 2004 Cheung made her award-winning film Clean with him.

He married actress-director Mia Hansen-Løve. They met when Hansen-Løve, seventeen at the time, starred in Assayas's 1998 feature Late August, Early September, but "[they] didn't get together until [she] was 20".[6]

He directed and co-wrote the acclaimed 2010 French television miniseries Carlos, about the life of the terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez. Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez won the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2011 for his performance as Carlos.

In April 2011, it was announced that he would be a member of the jury for the main competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[7]

His 2012 film, Something in the Air, was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.[8] Assayas won the Osella for Best Screenplay at Venice.[9] His 2014 film Clouds of Sils Maria was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[10] Sils Maria won the Louis Delluc Prize and garnered six César Award nominations including best film, best director, and best original screenplay. The film won a César Award for Best Supporting Actress for American actress Kristen Stewart.[11][12]

Style and influences[edit]

In an interview with Nick Pinkerton of Reverse Shot, Assayas talked about his influences:

"That radicality in cinema involved just being outside of the world of modern images, and the key to it was the work of Robert Bresson, who has been by far the most important influence in my work, and intellectually it's been the influence of Guy Debord—basically, you know, it's been Debord-Bresson, Bresson-Debord, the things that've always defined my framework, the way I look at the world."[13]


Narrative feature films[edit]

Fiction short films[edit]

Documentary feature films[edit]

  • HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien (1997)

Documentary short films[edit]

  • Winston Tong en Studio (1984)



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Chouaki, Yasmine (1 June 2012). "2. Michka Assayas (rediffusion)". RFI. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Michka Assayas Ecrivain et journaliste français". Evene. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Franck Le Gac, "Olivier Assayas", Senses of Cinema, Issue 39, Great Directors.
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Cold Water". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Morris, Octavia (27 June 2010). "The film that changed my life: Mia Hansen-Løve". guardian.co.uk (London). Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Jury of the 64th Festival de Cannes". Cannes. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Venezia 69". labiennale. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Official Awards of the 69th Venice Film Festival". labiennale. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "2014 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  11. ^ http://variety.com/2014/film/global/olivier-assayas-sils-maria-wins-louis-delluc-prize-1201380706/
  12. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/César_Award_for_Best_Supporting_Actress
  13. ^ Pinkerton, Nick. "Another interview with Olivier Assayas". Reverse Shot. 

External links[edit]