Sean Durkin

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Sean Durkin
Timothy Sean Durkin

(1981-12-09) December 9, 1981 (age 42)
Other namesT. Sean Durkin
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, film producer

Timothy Sean Durkin (born December 9, 1981) is a Canadian-American film director, screenwriter and producer.[1] Durkin is known for directing the critically acclaimed independent films Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), The Nest (2020), and The Iron Claw (2023). He is also known for directing episodes of the Channel 4 series Southcliffe (2013) and the Amazon Prime Video miniseries Dead Ringers (2023).

Early life and education[edit]

Durkin was born in Canada and moved to England soon thereafter; he was raised in North London and in Surrey until his family moved to Manhattan when he was 12.[2] Durkin graduated from Kent School in Kent, Connecticut in 2000,[3] then attended the film school at New York University, where he graduated in 2005 and delivered his thesis film in 2006. He moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2008.[2]


In an interview with Robert K. Elder for the book The Best Film You've Never Seen, Durkin said, “When I make a film, I think about things that scare me. My exploration of those things is to try and wrap my head around them and confront them.”[4] Durkin is a founding member of Borderline Films with fellow directors Antonio Campos and Josh Mond.[5][6] Durkin started his career directing several short films starting with Doris in 2006. His short film, Mary Last Seen won the award for best short film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Directors' Fortnight.[7] Durkin adapted the short into his first feature length film, the psychological-thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) which was starred Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, and Sarah Paulson. The film revolves around a woman suffering from paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival where he won the Dramatic Directing Award.[8] The film received positive reviews with Christy Lemire of the Associated Press naming it the best film of 2011.[9]

In 2013, Durkin directed the Channel 4 drama series Southcliffe, starring Sean Harris and Rory Kinnear.[10] His second film, another psychological drama, The Nest (2020) starred Carrie Coon and Jude Law. The film revolves a couple who's marriage disolves once they move from New York to London. Film critic Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair declared the film the best film of the year. The film received six British Independent Film Award nominations including three awards Durkin for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best British Independent Film. Durkin then directed his third film the A24 drama The Iron Claw (2023), starring Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, and Lily James. The film is a biography based on the Von Erich family of wrestlers.[11][12]

Favorite films[edit]

Durkin participated in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, where he listed his ten favorite films as follows:[13]


Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer
2006 Doris Yes No No
2007 The Last 15 No No Yes
2008 A Long Way Home No No Yes
2010 Mary Last Seen Yes Yes No
Kids in Love No No Yes
2013 Karaoke! No No Yes
1009 No No Executive
2014 Tzniut No No Executive


Year Title Director Writer Producer
2011 Martha Marcy May Marlene Yes Yes No
2020 The Nest Yes Yes Yes
2023 The Iron Claw Yes Yes Yes

Executive producer



Year Title Director Executive
2013 Southcliffe Yes No Miniseries
2023 Dead Ringers Yes Yes 3 episodes

Music videos[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2014 BAFTA TV Award Best Mini-Series Southcliffe Nominated
2021 British Independent Film Award Best British Independent Film The Nest Pending
Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
2010 Cannes Film Festival SFR Prize Mary Last Seen Won
2011 Un Certain Regard Martha Marcy May Marlene Nominated
2008 Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Afterschool Nominated
2011 Martha Marcy May Marlene Nominated
2015 James White Nominated
2010 Sundance Film Festival Short Filmmaking Award Mary Last Seen Nominated
2011 Grand Jury Prize Martha Marcy May Marlene Nominated
Directing Award Won


  1. ^ Kay, Jeremy (December 9, 2011). "Elizabeth Olsen". Screen International. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  2. ^ a b Frank Lovece, "Who is Martha Marcy May Marlene? Sean Durkin debuts with acclaimed drama of young cult refugee." Film Journal, September 21, 2011.
  3. ^ "Sean Durkin '00 Captures the Indie Film World", Kent School news, November 2011 (accessed 2012-05-26).
  4. ^ Durkin, Sean. The Best Film You've Never Seen. by Robert Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press 2013
  5. ^ "Interview: Sean Durkin on the Method Behind "Martha Marcy May Marlene"". The Moveable Fest. 2011-10-22. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  6. ^ Nordine, Michael (2016-11-09). "Borderline Films Retrospective at Museum of the Moving Image". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  7. ^ "Sean Durkin: Director Sean Durkin returns to Cannes with Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene after winning Best Short at Directors' Fortnight last year." Jason Guerrasio, Screen Daily, May 15, 2011.
  8. ^ Nigel M. Smith (2011-12-19). "Sundance's Golden Boy Sean Durkin, Director/Writer of 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'". Indiewire.
  9. ^ Lemire, Christy (December 22, 2011). "AP movie critic Christy Lemire's top 10 films of 2011". CBS News. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Southcliffe: TV that threatens the status quo", Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, July 21, 2013.
  11. ^ White, Abbey (October 10, 2023). "Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White Plagued by Family Tragedy in Trailer for Wrestling Drama 'The Iron Claw'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 24, 2022). "Lily James Joins Sean Durkin's 'The Iron Claw' For A24". Deadline. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  13. ^ "Sean Durkin | BFI". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "Louis XIV "Air Traffic Control" | Outright Mental".

External links[edit]