François Ozon, One of France’s Most Prolific Directors

François Ozon, One of France’s Most Prolific Directors

If you love French films like we love French films, then you’ll have noticed that François Ozon is a name that pops up a lot. So we thought we should take a closer look at the man who’s been described as one of French cinema’s most important modern filmmakers.

Director, screenwriter, producer, Ozon’s oeuvre is recognised for its beautiful aesthetics and witty humour. Born in Paris in the late 1960s, just as la nouvelle vague was in its dying days, he attended La Fémis and began making short movies in the late 1990s before graduating to features with Sitcom (1998).

In 2002, he won international attention for 8 femmes, the first in his theatrical trilogy. This was followed by 2003’s sexually-charged thriller Swimming Pool, starring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier, which Ozon described as a very personal film, and then 5×2 and Time to Leave (Le temps qui reste) which also impressed on the international film festival circuit. The world beckoned and it was no surprise that Ozon soon ventured into English-language movies. The result was 2007’s Angel, starring Charlotte Rampling and Romola Garai, which tells the tale of an irrepressible Edwardian girl who is determined to become a romance writer and climb the social ladder. Afterwards, Ozon declared Garai to be his muse.

In 2010, the second part of his trilogy, Potiche, arrived, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu. Set in the 70s, it tells the tale of a woman who gets to run her husband’s umbrella factory. It was nominated for a raft of awards, like so much of Ozon’s cinematic output. Impressively, his career has netted more than 50 nominations to date, from Cannes to Berlin, alongside several wins.

Most recently, 2022’s Peter von Kant flipped the genders of Fassbinder’s 1972 original, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (“Fassbinder is a filmmaker whose work, thought and worldview have always haunted me,” Ozon has said). And next up at the cinema is The Crime is Mine (Mon Crime), the third, delicious part of Ozon’s comedic trilogy. Having been born at the end of the New Wave, it is perhaps apt that now, as one of France’s most compelling directors, Ozon is considered part of the country’s ‘new New Wave’.

François Ozon’s 10-second CV

Name: François Ozon

Born: November 15, 1967, in Paris.

Early career

He earned a master’s degree from French film school La Fémis, and went on to make several short films in the late 1990s, such as A Summer Dress (Une robe d’été) which was extremely well received by critics.

What should I watch.

We love 8 Women, which kickstarts Ozon’s trilogy. Full of famous faces, Ozon said: “The difficulty was directing eight actresses, none of whom want to be directed the same way. Oh, I was so tired! Catherine Deneuve just wants to know what to do with her hands. Isabelle Huppert wants to know nothing except her place. Emmanuelle Beart wants to know the psychology of her character…”

C’est pas vrai!

Ozon, a prolific filmmaker, likes to take a fun approach to movies. “When we make a film, we are like children playing a game. I say to the actors, ‘OK, you will be the doctor, you be the nurse… and I am the headmaster.”

From France Today Magazine


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