The Top 15 Best Contemporary European Directors

by Andrias Høgenni | last updated - 13 Mar 2011 | Public

Purely based on my personal taste.

1. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly ...

2. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

3. Mike Leigh

Director | Secrets & Lies

Mike Leigh was born on February 20, 1943 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. He is a director and writer, known for Secrets & Lies (1996), Naked (1993) and Happy-Go-Lucky (2008). He was previously married to Alison Steadman.

4. Shane Meadows

Director | This Is England

Shane Meadows was born on December 26, 1972 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, England. He is a director and writer, known for This Is England (2006), Dead Man's Shoes (2004) and TwentyFourSeven (1997).

5. Werner Herzog

Director | Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes

Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has won numerous national and international awards for...

6. Roy Andersson

Director | Sånger från andra våningen

Roy Andersson was born on March 31, 1943 in Gothenburg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden as Roy Arne Lennart Andersson. He is a director and writer, known for Sånger från andra våningen (2000), En kärlekshistoria (1970) and You, the Living (2007).

7. Lukas Moodysson

Writer | Fucking Åmål

Lukas Moodysson was born on January 17, 1969 in Malmö, Skåne län, Sweden as Karl Frederik Lukas Moodysson. He is a writer and director, known for Show Me Love (1998), Lilya 4-Ever (2002) and Vi är bäst! (2013). He has been married to Coco Moodysson since 1994. They have three children.

8. Ken Loach

Director | I, Daniel Blake

Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it's virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter's College, Oxford, he branched out into...

9. Thomas Vinterberg

Director | Jagten

With Sidste omgang (1993) (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury's and Producers' Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular ...

10. Luc Dardenne

Producer | Deux jours, une nuit

Luc Dardenne was born on March 10, 1954 in Awirs, Wallonia, Belgium. He is a producer and director, known for Two Days, One Night (2014), Le silence de Lorna (2008) and La Promesse (1996).

Along with his brother Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

11. Pedro Almodóvar

Writer | Hable con ella

The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study ...

12. Cristian Mungiu

Writer | 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile

Cristian Mungiu was born on April 27, 1968 in Iasi, Romania. He is a writer and director, known for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), Dupa dealuri (2012) and Bacalaureat (2016).

13. Aleksandr Sokurov

Director | Russkiy kovcheg

He was born with a disability because of an anatomic defect of his leg, in 1951 in Podorvikha village in Siberian Russia. His father was a Red Army veteran of WW2. One of most important contemporary filmmakers, Sokurov worked extensively in television and later graduated from the prestigious film ...

14. Oliver Hirschbiegel

Director | Das Experiment

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1957. In his teens he left high school and worked as a cooker in a boat.

Then he studied painting and graphism in the Academy of arts in Hamburg where he also started experimenting with video and photography. Those experimental movies attracted the attention of some ...

15. Lone Scherfig

Director | An Education

Writer/director Lone Scherfig graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 1984. Her first feature film, THE BIRTHDAY TRIP (1990), was selected for Panorama in Berlin, the New Directors section at MOMA in New York and won the Grand Jury Prix in Rouen. Her next film, ON OUR OWN (1998), ...