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Kijak studied with the film scholar and John Cassavetes expert Ray Carney, as well as the late Mel Howard at Boston University's College of Communication. He wrote, directed and produced the feature film Never Met Picasso (1996) which starred Margot Kidder, Alexis Arquette and Don McKellar (with music by Kristin Hersh). It won awards for both Best Screenplay and Best Actor (for Arquette) at the 1997 Outfest film festival.
Kijak followed that with the cult hit Cinemania (2002) (co-directing and co-producing with the German filmmaker Angela Christlieb), a documentary about five of the most manic-obsessive film-buffs in New York City. The film won the Golden Starfish Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2002 Hamptons International Film Festival.
His next film was a documentary on musician Scott Walker. The film, titled Scott Walker - 30 Century Man was executive produced by David Bowie, and featured Radiohead, Brian Eno, Sting, Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker, and provided a look inside Scott Walker’s creative process over a 40-year career. The film had its world premiere on October 31, 2006, at the 50th London Film Festival, and premiered internationally at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival and became one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries released in the UK that year.
Stones in Exile, a film he directed that was commissioned by The Rolling Stones to tell the story of the making of their 1972 album Exile on Main St., had its world premiere at the 2010 Directors' Fortnight in Cannes, followed by broadcast premieres on BBC 1's Imagine, and on a special edition of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC.
On February 11, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Kijak would be directing a feature documentary about the biggest-selling boy band of all time, The Backstreet Boys, a film being produced by Mia Bays (who produced Kijak's Scott Walker film) and Pulse Films.
We Are X, a documentary on the heavy metal band X Japan and its leader Yoshiki, was premiered in the World Documentary Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Kijak remarked about the film "I might have to quit music films after this one. The story is so unreal, I don't know where else I could go after this." The film was awarded the Special Jury Award for Editing. It then went on to play at SXSW where it won an Audience Award for Excellence in Title Design. It has continued to screen at festivals around the world, including Seattle International Film Festival, BEAT Festival in Moscow, and the Shanghai International Film Festival. It was released theatrically in the US by Drafthouse Films, a division of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and has been released to great acclaim all around the world, from the UK to Japan and most recently on 100 screens across Russia.
On March 13, 2018, Kijak's documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, prior to its US broadcast debut on Showtime on August 18, 2018. Another Showtime documentary followed in 2019: the highly acclaimed Sid & Judy, a fresh take on the life of Judy Garland framed by the story of Judy's marriage to her third husband Sidney Luft.
- "We Are X Director Stephen Kijak Interview". Red Carpet News TV. January 27, 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- Morris, Wesley (May 24, 2010). "Rolling with rock royalty". Boston.com. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
- "OUTFEST 1997 FILM COMPETITION WINNERS". Outfest.org. Archived from the original on 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- "Backstreet Boys Documentary: Show 'em what you're made of". fluxmagazine.com. 2015-02-18. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stephen Kijak.|
- Stephen Kijak on IMDb
- club.kingsnake.com: Review of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man; interview with Stephen Kijak
- Village Voice: Tribeca Film Festival interviews
- Official website
- Kevchino Interview with Stephen Kijak on Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
- Interview with Stephen Kijak - RadioLIVE New Zealand, June 2010.