“I do films to be behind the camera, not in front of the camera. I'm sure I say very intimate things about myself in all my films, but it's better to say it not too directly, to be hidden behind a woman.” Francois Ozon
One of the most important young French film directors Francois Ozon first came to prominence as the director of such shorts as Action vérité/ Truth or Dare (1994), Une robe d’été/ A Summer Dress (1996), X 2000 (1998) as well as Scènes de lit (1998) before making the leap into directing motion picture with the Cannes-premiered Sitcom (1998), an entertaining black comedy that gave Ozon three nominations. The writer/director whose movies are frequently characterized by sharp satirical wit and a non-interventionist view on human sexuality went on to score victory with the award-winning movies Les Amants Criminels/ Criminal Lovers (1999), Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes/ Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000) and Sous le sa/Under the Sand (2000) and, during 2002-2003, collected international acclaim for his movies 8 femmes (2002) and Swimming Pool (2003).
Ozon’s first full English-language production The Real Life of Angel Deverell is now in post-production, and will be released in early 2007 in several countries such as Germany, England, Belgium, Netherlands, in addition to France. It stars actress Romola Garai, whom he has mentioned as his muse.
Personally speaking, Ozon is generally considered to be gay though he is not particularly willing to label his sexuality. At any rate, lesbian or gay characters and plot elements are featured regularly in his works. In 2002, Ozon showed his political concern by supporting Lionel Jospin in his presidential campaign.
Childhood and Family:
Francois Ozon was born on November 15, 1967, in Paris, France, to bourgeois intellectuals. He acquired a master’s degree in cinema and furthered his filmmaking studies to the celebrated national film school La FEMIS in Paris, France.
The Real Life of Angel Deverell
Francois Ozon became interested in filmmaking at a young age. When he was 18, he started making Super 8 short films and many of his shorts were screened at various international film festivals or screened on French television. Ozon’s early works include Photo de famille (1988), Peau contre peau (1991), Une goutte de sang (1991), Thomas reconstitué (1992) and Victor (1993). He also directed and wrote a 4-minute short Action vérité/ Truth or Dare (1994), which won a Critics Award for Best Short at the 1996 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
After the 26-minute short Petite mort, La (1995) and the documentary film Jospin s’éclaire (1995), Ozon drew attention with Une robe d’été/ A Summer Dress, a 1996 engaging short about a young, homosexual man on holiday with his boyfriend who has a brief fling with a girl and, after losing his clothes, is forced to wear her dress. The film was nominated for a César for Best Short Film-Fiction and won a Brest European Short Film Festival for French Grand Prix. When it was released in the United States in the following year, A Summer Dress took home an Audience Award for Outstanding Narrative Short Film at the 1997 L.A. Outfest. Ozon’s first semi-feature-length film, Regarde la mer/ See the Sea, was also released in America that same year. A darkly sexual, elegantly threatening suspense drama about a young mother alone on a seaside holiday who opens her home and life to a gloomy young backpacker, the acclaimed featurette set up its director as a master of psychological manipulation and composition, and launched him as a foremost new talent.
In 1998, Ozon finally released his first feature-length film called Sitcom, a black comedy he also wrote. It was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and handed Ozon three nominations, a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival and a Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film for Best Film, and a Stockholm Film Festival for Bronze Horse. Though Sitcom was compelling, some critics pointed out that the film deceived Ozon’s roots as a director of shorts and, by itself, ran out of steam midway through. The same year, Ozon also earned success for his work in the short films X 2000, in which he took home a 1999 Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and a 1999 Ourense Independent Film Festival, and Scènes de lit, garnering him with a 1998 Avignon Film Festival.
The following year saw Ozon gain even more victory with his sophomore motion picture, Les Amants Criminels/ Criminal Lovers, which was premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Starring Natacha Régnier and Jeremie Renier as two young murderers, the crime/thriller film cemented the director’s status as the enfant appalling of contemporary French cinema. His bright effort in the film brought him a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival for Best Screenplay and an L.A Outfest’s Grand Jury for Outstanding Foreign Narrative Feature.
Ozon then adapted an early, unproduced play by a then-19-year-old Rainer Werner Fassbinder for his next project, Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes/ Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000), starring Malik Zidi as the young, naive Franz, and Bernard Girardeau as his older, tyrannical lover Leopold. A description of the dysfunctional relationship between these two brothers and their respective fiancée and ex-girlfriend, Water was a great fame, earning a Teddy Award for Best Gay & Lesbian Film at the Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlin International Film Festival. It also nabbed a New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival for Best Feature. With the success, Ozon further solidified his reputation as one of the most promising of France’s new generation of filmmakers.
Following another successful film Sous le sa/Under the Sand (2000), which earned him two César nominations for Best Film and Best Director, as well as a European Film nod for Best Director, Ozon wrote and directed 8 femmes (2002), starring a dream team of such French film legends as Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant, Isabelle Huppert, and Emmanuelle Béart. With an enjoyable take on the overexagerrated Hollywood musicals of yesteryear, the film became a massive commercial success. As for Ozon, he won a Lumiere (France) for Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) and a Reader Jury of the “Berliner Morgenpost” at the Berlin International Film Festival. Additionally, he received three César nominations for Best Director, Best Film and Best Writing - Original or Adaptation, and two European Film nominations for Best Screenwriter and Best Director (Audience Award). Ozon further gained international popularity with his next project, Swimming Pool, which was released in the following year. He won a Bangkok World Film Festival for Best Film, a Golden Palm nomination at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and an Audience nod for Best Director at the European Film.
Next, Ozon directed the movie 5x2 (2004), which nabbed a Golden Lion nomination at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, and his 2005 film,Temps qui reste, Le Time To Leave, premiered at various worldwide film festivals. The latter even won a Silver Spike from the Valladolid International Film Festival. In 2006, Ozon helmed the short film Un lever de rideau, adapted from a book by Henry de Montherlant.
Currently, Ozon is working on his first full English-language film The Real Life of Angel Deverell, starring Ramora Garai in the title role. The film, based on a novel by British writer Elizabeth Taylor, will be premiered in the Berlin Film Festival on February 17, 2007.