Silent Directors (international)

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Sergei M. Eisenstein
The son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein attended the Institute of Civil Engineering in Petrograd as a young man. With the fall of the tsar in 1917, he worked as an engineer for the Red Army. In the following years, Eisenstein joined up with the Moscow Proletkult Theater as a set designer and then director...
Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Director, Pandora's Box
Georg Wilhelm Pabst is considered by many to be the greatest director of German cinema, in his era. He was especially appreciated by actors and actresses for the humane way in which he treated them. This was in contrast to some of his contemporaries, such as Arnold Fanck, who have been characterized as martinets.
Carl Theodor Dreyer
The illegitimate son of a Danish farmer and his Swedish housekeeper, Carl Theodor Dreyer was born in Copenhagen on the 3th of February, 1889. He spent his early years in various foster homes before being adopted by the Dreyers at the age of two. Contrary to popular belief (perhaps nourished by the fact...
Abel Gance
Writer, Napoleon
Despite parental pressure to pursue a 'respectable' career, Abel Gance was addicted to the theatre, and made his acting debut at the age of 19. He started acting in films in 1909 because he needed the money - he was deeply unimpressed with the film medium at that point. But he continued acting...
Fritz Lang
Director, M
Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. From 1910 to 1914...
Louis Feuillade
Director, Les vampires
A prolific director--over 700 films, most of them short- or medium-length--Louis Feuillade began his career with Gaumont where, as well as directing his own features, he was appointed artistic director in charge of production in 1907. His work was largely comprised of film series; his first series, begun in 1910 and numbering 15 episodes...
Alfred Hitchcock
Director, Psycho
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
Kenji Mizoguchi
Director, Ugetsu
Coming from a lower class family Mizoguchi entered the production company Nikkatsu as an actor specialized in female roles. Later he became an assistant director and made his first film in 1922. Although he filmed almost 90 movies in the silent era, only his last 12 productions are really known outside of Japan because they were especially produced for Venice (e.g...
Yasujirô Ozu
Director, Tokyo Story
Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first film the next year...
Luis Buñuel
The father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of the film medium, Luis Buñuel was given a strict Jesuit education (which sowed the seeds of his obsession with both religion and subversive behavior), and subsequently moved to Madrid to study at the university there, where his close friends included Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca...
Ferdinand Zecca
Was a cafe concert entertainer before Charles Pathe noticed him during the Universal Exhibition, where Zecca had been assigned to Pathe's stand. After a few daysPathe asked Zecca if he would like to work in cinematography. Zecca immediately accepted the offer and rapidly became Pathe's right hand man and head of production.
Émile Cohl
Director, Fantasmagorie
Pioneering animator Emile Cohl was born Emile Eugène Jean Louis Courtet in Paris, France, in 1857. He began his career as a caricaturist, cartoonist and writer in his 20s, and in 1908 he was hired by the Gaumont film company as a writer. He soon also became a director, turning out comedies and fantasies...
Segundo de Chomón
Segundo de Chomón became involved in film through his wife, who was an actress in Pathé films. In 1902 he became a concessionary for Pathé in Barcelona, distributing its product in Spanish-speaking countries and managing a factory for the coloring of Pathé films. He began shooting footage of Spanish locations for the company...
Louis Delluc
Director, Fièvre
Richard Oswald
Director and producer of many German as well as a few American, British and French films, Richard Oswald started making films in 1914 and shortly formed his own production company. After making many successful films and discovering several important performers, he fled his homeland after the Nazi takeover and eventually settled in the US...
Ewald André Dupont
German film director E.A. Dupont was an influential critic and newspaper columnist before breaking into the film industry. He wrote several screenplays and worked as a story editor for Richard Oswald before turning to directing in 1917. Over the next eight years Dupont became a respected exponent of the German expressionist movement...
“ Die Geierwally , Das alte Gesetz , Variety , Piccadilly... ” - quietgiant2
Maurice Elvey
Director, The Clairvoyant
Maurice Elvey was born in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England, the oldest son of William Clarence Folkard, an inspecting engineer, and Sarah Anna Seward Folkard (formerly Pearce). He never had a formal education, and was working on the streets of London by the age of nine after having run away from home...
Arnold Fanck
Arnold Fanck was born March 6, 1889, in Frankenthal, Germany. A trained geologist, he began making documentary and action films after the end of World War I, and his love of geology inspired him to shoot his films in remote mountain locations. These pictures became immensely popular with the German audiences and led to what is known as the "mountain films"...
Georg Jacoby
Georg Jacoby was an actor, film and theatre director. He started to play on stage in 1915 and in cinema in WWI propaganda films. After 1919, he was only a film director. In 1922, he made The Little Napoleon ("The Little Napoleon"), in which Marlene Dietrich had a bit part. His first wife was Edith Meller...
Alexander Korda
One of a large group of Hungarian refugees who found refuge in England in the 1930s, Sir Alexander Korda was the first British film producer to receive a knighthood. He was a major, if controversial, figure and acted as a guiding force behind the British film industry of the 1930s and continued to influence British films until his death in 1956...
Zoltan Korda
Director, Sahara
A one time Hungarian cavalry officer, Zoltan Korda started working in films as a cameraman then an editor before becoming a director with London Films run by his brother Alexander Korda. Zoltan had strong liberal/socialist ideals and often clashed with Alexander, who, despite their both being born in Hungary, was a proud supporter of the old British Empire.
Dimitri Kirsanoff
Director, Ménilmontant
In France from 1923. Kirsanoff was at the forefront of Parisian avant-garde filmmaking thanks to works such as Ménilmontant (1926), which combined soviet style montage with hand-held camerawork and lyrically composed static shots. Kirsanoff's early silent films, many starring his first wife Nadia Sibirskaia...
Viktor Tourjansky
Director, Herod the Great
Viktor Tourjansky was a Russian film director who emigrated after the communist revolution of 1917, and worked in France, Germany, USA, UK, and Italy. He was born Viacheslav Konstantinovich Turzhanski on March 4, 1891, in Kiev, Ukraine, Russian Empire (now Kiyiv, Ukraine). Studied painting and art history...
Lev Kuleshov
Director, Po zakonu
Lev Kuleshov was a Russian director who used the editing technique known as the "Kuleshov effect." Although some of the editing innovations, such as crosscutting were used by other directors before him, Kuleshov was the first to use it in the Soviet Russia. he was driving a Ford sports car amidst hard situation in the post-Civil war USSR...
Teinosuke Kinugasa
Director, Gate of Hell
Former female impersonator who entered films in 1917 as an actor, turned to directing in 1922 and made some of the most formally brilliant Japanese films of the following decades. The few of Kinugasa's early works to have reached the West betray a highly mature, sophisticated talent. His best-known silent films are _Kurutta Ippeji (1926)_...
Germaine Dulac
The daughter of a cavalry captain, she was raised by a grandmother in Paris, where she studied various forms of art with an emphasis on music and the opera. In 1905 she married engineer-novelist Marie-Louis Albert-Dulac and under his influence veered toward journalism. As one of the leading radical feminists of her day...
Humberto Mauro
Director, Tesouro Perdido
Pioneer of Brazilian cinema. Humberto Mauro began his career in the provinces in 1926 and was brought to Rio de Janeiro by producer-director Adhemar Gonzaga in 1930. He went on to direct several features which were praised for their uniquely Brazilian style - notably Ganga Bruta - as well as making over 230 shorts for the National Institute of Educational Cinema...
“ "Ubirajara" ” - quietgiant2
J. Stuart Blackton
In the US from the age of 10, he first worked as a journalist-illustrator for the New York World. Interviewing Thomas A. Edison, he so impressed the inventor with his drawings that Edison suggested he allow some of them to be photographed by the Kinetograph camera. The result was a short film, Edison Drawn by 'World' Artist...
August Blom
Director, Atlantis
Carl Boese
Director, The Golem
Pyotr Chardynin
Director, Boyarin Orsha
Pyotr (Peter, Petr) Chardynin was a prolific silent film director who made over 100 silent films in Russia, France, Germany, and Soviet Union. He was born Pyotr Ivanovich Krasavtsev, on 28 January 1972, in Simbirsk, Russian Empire (now Ulyanovsk, Russia). His father was a small business owner, his mother was a homemaker...
Dziga Vertov
Born in Bialystok, Poland, studied music and enrolled in St. Petersburg Neurological Institute in 1916. Worked on first Soviet newsreel, Kinonedelia (1918-1919), then on subsequent newsreel series (inc. Kinopravda, 1922-1925).
Georges Méliès
Georges Melies, a professional magician by training, first saw the new "moving pictures" in 1895. Little over a year later, Melies was filming and projecting his own creations. By accident, he discovered that he could use stop-motion photography to render trick visual effects. Melies was also the first to use techniques such as the fade-in...
“ Nächte des Grauens , Schatten , Manon Lescaut ,
Die Todesschleife ....
talking_ The Informer , der student von Prag ” - quietgiant2
Joe May
A businessman and operetta director, Joe May, one of the founders of the German cinema, started directing films in 1911 and started his own production company a few years later. He gave famous German director Fritz Lang his start in films, employing him as a screenwriter in his early films. After the Nazi takeover...
Gustaf Molander
Director, Intermezzo
He attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school 1907-1909 and went on to become an actor at the same theatre 1913-1926. His first work for the movies was the script to Thomas Graals bästa film and the follow-up Thomas Graals bästa barn. He made his directing debut with Bodakungen. During the 1920s he made his first movies based on the Selma Lagerlöf novels...
Gustav Machatý
Director, Ecstasy
Gustav Machatý was born on May 9, 1901 in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic). His first experience with the motion picture industry was playing piano at movie theaters, accompanying silent pictures. In 1917, he made his debut as an actor. In the early 1920s, he emigrated to the United States...
Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt was from an Austrian merchant family (surname officially changed from the family name Goldmann to Reinhardt in 1904), and even as a boy, after his family moved to Vienna, he haunted the "Hofburg Theater" and tried to see every play. In 1890 he studied at the Sulkowsky Theater in Matzleinsdorf...
Florián Rey
Writer, Orosia
Spanish director Florian Rey began his career in the film industry in the 1920s as an actor, but he soon switched careers and directed his first film in 1924. His 1927 film Sister San Sulpicio starred Spanish actress Imperio Argentina, whom he later married. His best-known film is The Cursed Village, considered by many film historians to be a masterpiece of early Spanish cinema...
Reinhold Schünzel
Actor, Notorious
The son of a German father and a Jewish mother, Reinhold Schuenzel was born in St. Pauli, the best known, but also the poorest, part of Hamburg. His father started off as an actor, but economic circumstances forced him to turn towards commerce. For a while, Reinhold followed in his footsteps, undertook business studies and then began his professional career in the publishing business...
Julien Duvivier
Director, Pépé le Moko
Revered by such legendary fellow directors as Ingmar Bergman and Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier is one of the greatest figures in the history of French cinema and of world cinema in general. He is perhaps the most neglected of the "Big Five" of classic French cinema (the other four being Jean Renoir, Rene Clair...
Émile Reynaud
Director, Pauvre Pierrot
His father was a watchmaker, his mother a schoolteacher. He was taught by his parents, and they believed he should learn whilst having fun. When his father died, him and mother both left Paris for Puy-en-Velay. He became a professor of physics and natural sciences, and taught from 1873 to 1877. During this time he invented the "praxinoscope" which is an instrument that creates optical illusions...
Jenö Janovics
Director and Managing Director Jenö Janovics was one of the pioneers of film in Hungary. He was instrumental in the formation of a systematic film production: Between 1914-17 his film companies Proja and Corvin worked with influential directors like Michael Curtiz, Márton Garas and Alexander Korda...
Yevgeni Bauer
Director, Posle smerti
Yevgeni Bauer was the most important filmmaker of the early Russian cinema, who made about eighty silent films in 5 years before the Russian Revolution of 1917. He was born Yevgeni Frantsevich Bauer in 1865, in Moscow, Russia, into an artistic family. His father, Franz Bauer, was a renown musician who played zither...
Wladyslaw Starewicz
Although his name nowadays means very little except to animation buffs (and even they have to be pretty well informed), Wladyslaw Starewicz ranks alongside Walt Disney, as one of the great animation pioneers, and his career started nearly a decade before Disney's. He became an animator by accident - fascinated by insects...