Top 100 Eastern European Directors

The most important directors from the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. 23 Hungarian, 20 Polish, 15 Czech, 13 Romanian, 13 Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, 5 Bulgarian/Macedonian, 5 Slovak, 3 Georgian, one Albanian, one Armenian and one Ukrainian director.
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1.
Richard Boleslawski
Director, Les Misérables
Inventing a stage name "Boleslawski" (later spelled also "Boleslavsky"), young Pole Boleslaw Ryszard Srzednicki left his second home (Odessa, Russian Empire) to study theatre and train as an actor at the world-famous Moscow Art Theatre before and during WW I. He also acted in a few early Russian films...
 
2.
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...
 
3.
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...
 
4.
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.
 
5.
Emeric Pressburger
Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart, Emeric Pressburger worked as a journalist in Hungary and Germany and an author and scriptwriter in Berlin and Paris. He was a Hungarian Jew, chased around Europe (he worked on films for UFA in Berlin and Paris) before World War II, finally finding sanctuary in London--but as a scriptwriter who didn't speak English...
 
6.
Michael Curtiz
Director, Casablanca
Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. After WWI, he continued his filmmaking career in Austria and Germany and into the early 1920s when he directed films in other countries in Europe. Moving to the US in 1926, he started making films in Hollywood for Warner Bros...
 
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9.
Rudolph Maté
One of the most respected cinematographers in the industry, Polish-born Rudolph Mate entered the film business after his graduation from the University of Budapest. He worked in Hungary as an assistant cameraman for Alexander Korda and later worked throughout Europe with noted cameraman Karl Freund...
 
11.
Laslo Benedek
Director, The Wild One
Laslo Benedek was brought to Hollywood from Hungary--where he had been a writer, editor and photographer--by MGM, and his first few films were undistinguished programmers. His third, however, was quite a bit better: Death of a Salesman, the screen version of Arthur Miller's classic play. Although trashed by critics at the time for...
 
14.
Rangel Vulchanov
Rangel Vulchanov was one of the few Bulgarian directors who had not studied in Moscow. He graduated from a vocational high school and the Theatrical Institute, worked as assistant director five years; in 1956 was Sharaliev's second unit director in Two Victories. After the critique of On a Small Island...
 
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21.
Vulo Radev
Director, The Peach Thief
Vulo Radev (1 January 1923 - 28 March 2001) was a Bulgarian film director, writer and cinematographer. Radev was born in a village Lesidren. In 1953, Radev graduated from the filming faculty of the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. His first film, a documentary, appeared in 1952...
 
22.
Zoltán Fábri
He was born in 1917 and between the two World War he finished his primary and secondary school. After them he graduated in the College of Fine Arts, which helped him later to be a production-designer. He liked to learn and joined the Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. He bacame a director and actor. In the beginning of his career he was a production-designer...
 
25.
Karel Kachyna
Director, Ucho
 
26.
Wojciech Has
Born in Kraków, Poland, in 1925. Feature film director. Graduated in 1946 from Cracow Film Institute, also studied painting. From 1947 to 1957 made a number of documentary shorts and educational films. Feature film debut: _The Noose_ (Petla, 1958, co-scr.). Other films: _Farewells_ (Pozegnania, 1958...
 
27.
Vera Chytilová
Director, Daisies
Vera Chytilová was born on February 2, 1929, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). She studied philosophy and architecture in Brno for two years, then worked as a technical draftsman, a designer, a fashion model, a photo re-toucher, then worked as a clapper girl for Barrandov Film Studios in Prague. There she continued as a writer, actress, and assistant director...
 
29.
Aleksandar Petrovic
One of the most acclaimed and successful Yugoslav directors, born in 1929. in Paris. Studied film directing at the prestigious Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague (1947/48). His studies remained unfinished due to the political aggravation between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia at the time and he was forced to return to homeland...
 
30.
Walerian Borowczyk
Director, Emmanuelle 5
Born in Kwilcz, Poland, Walerian Borowczyk trained as a painter and lithographer, winning Poland's National Prize in 1953. He began his film career as a film poster designer, then started making short animated films in the late 1950s. Moving to France in the early 1960s, he gained a reputation as a leading animator before switching to live-action features...
 
32.
Károly Makk
Director, Love
 
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35.
Hajrudin Krvavac
Hajrudin "Siba" Krvavac (22 December 1926 - 11 July 1992) was a Bosnian film director most notable for directing movies from the Partisan film genre during 1960s and 70s. His gift for precise storytelling was visible in his early documentaries and would become a staple of his feature films later on...
 
36.
Miklós Jancsó
Miklos Jancsó was born in 1921 in Vac, Hungary. His mother Angela Poparada was Romanian and his father Sandor Jancsó Hungarian. Jancsó received a degree in Law from the University of Cluj-Napoca in 1944. After fighting in WWII and a brief period as a POW, he chose to join the Film and Theater Academy in Budapest...
 
37.
Roman Polanski
Director, The Pianist
Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933. His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years before World War II began...
 
38.
Andrzej Zulawski
Writer, Possession
Born in Lvov, Ukraine; then he moved with his father Miroslaw Zulawski to Czechoslovakia and later to Poland. In the late 1950s, he studied cinema in France. In the 1960s, he was an assistant of the famous Polish film director Andrzej Wajda. His feature debut The Third Part of the Night was an adaptation of his father's novel...
 
40.
Andrzej Wajda
Director, Katyn
Andrzej Wajda is an Academy Award-wining director. He is the most prominent filmmaker in Poland known for The Promised Land, Man of Iron, and Katyn. He was Born on March 6, 1926, in Suwalki, Poland. His mother, Aniela Wajda, was a teacher at a Ukrainian school. His father, Jakub Wajda, was a captain in the Polish infantry...
 
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42.
Feliks Falk
Director, Joanna
 
43.
Sergiu Nicolaescu
Sergiu Nicolaescu was born on the 13th of April 1930, in Targu Jiu, Gorj County, Romania. Nicolaescu, the 'Steven Spielberg of the Romanian cinema', was a brilliant, self-taught technician and a master of popular entertainment who approached during his long career various genres with great success. In his childhood...
 
44.
Goran Markovic
Director, Tito i ja
The son of actors Rade Markovic and Olivera Markovic, between 1965 and 1970 he studied film directing in Prague and then started working for television, directing documentaries and about fifty tv movies. His first theatrical feature was the critically acclaimed and financially successful Special Education...
 
45.
Zbigniew Rybczynski
Director, Tango
Zbigniew Rybczynski (Rib-chin-ski) was born on January 27, 1949, in Lodz, Poland, but was raised in Warsaw, where he attended an arts high school and was trained as a painter. He went on to study cinematography at the world-renowned Lodz Film School, where he began experimenting with the film medium...
 
47.
Slobodan Sijan
Director, Ko to tamo peva
Slobodan Sijan is a Serbian filmmaker. He graduated from Academy of Theatre, Film, Radio and Television in Belgrade as a film director and began his career in the mid-1970s.
 
48.
Milos Forman
Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in Buchenwald and his mother died in Auschwitz...
 
49.
István Szabó
Director, Sunshine
Istvan Svabo was the first Hungarian director to win an Oscar (Although a Hungarian-American director, Michael Curtiz [Mihaly Kertesz], also won an Oscar previously for directing Casablanca). He received the award for his 1981 movie Mephisto. In January 2006, it became public that he had been an agent of the III/III department...
 
50.
Dusan Makavejev
Dusan Makavejev is the premier figure in Yugoslavian film history; his films are deeply rooted in his nation's painful postwar experiences and draw on important Yugoslavian cinematic and cultural models. Makavejev's work has violated many political and sexual taboos and invited censorship in dozens of nations...
 
51.
Krzysztof Zanussi
Born in 1939 in Warsaw, Poland. Documentary and feature film director. Studied physics at Warsaw University and philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Graduated from Lodz Film Academy in 1966. Amateur film maker. His school diploma film 'Death of a Provincial' (The Death of a Provincial) won an awards in Venice...
 
53.
Jerzy Skolimowski
Born in Lódz, Poland, in 1938. Director, playwright, scriptwriter, and actor. Graduated in ethnology, literature and history from Warsaw University in 1959. Graduated from Lódz Film Academy in directing in 1962. Feature debut: _Identification Marks - None_ (Rysopis, 1964, scr., dir, act.), awarded in Warsaw 1964 and Arnhem 1965...
 
54.
Ryszard Bugajski
Director, Przesluchanie
Ryszard Bugajski began his career working with Andrzej Wajda at Studio X in the late 70's. When he was pressured by the secret police to become an informant at the Studio, Bugajski vowed to try and bring down the Communist regime. To that end he shot his first feature film, "Interrogation", as society crumbled around him during the Solidarity uprisings...
 
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Krzysztof Kieslowski
Krzysztof Kieslowski graduated from Lódz Film School in 1969, and became a documentary, TV and feature film director and scriptwriter. Before making his first film for TV, Pedestrian Subway (The Underground Passage), he made a number of short documentaries. His next TV title, Personnel (The Staff)...
 
58.
Jan Svankmajer
Director, Otesánek
After studying at the Institute of Industrial Arts and the Marionette Faculty of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts in the 1950s, Jan Svankmajer started working as a theatre director, chiefly in association with the Theatre of Masks and the Black Theatre. He first experimented with film-making after becoming involved with the mixed-media productions of Prague's Lanterna Magika Theatre...
 
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Artavazd Peleshian
Director, Mer dare
Creator of the "distange montage," Artavazd Peleshian, one of the key Soviet documentarians, removed the boundaries of feature and documentary films, editing both sequences as a real poetical unity. His "distange montage" was a new step in the development of film editing. Even his student works (The Earth of the People 1966 and the Beginning 1967) shot at VGIK...
 
65.
Peter Medak
Director, The Changeling
Peter Medak is an international Film Director. Born in Budapest, Hungary and fled to England at the age of 18 during the famous uprising against the communist regime. He immediately began his Film career with associated British Picture Corporation in Borehamwood. He studied and worked his way through by being an assistant editor...
 
66.
Milcho Manchevski
Director, Before the Rain
Milcho Manchevski is a New York-based Macedonian-born film director, writer, photographer and artist. His Academy-award nominated film Before the Rain won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, FIPRESCI and Independent Spirit, along with 30 other awards. The New York Times included it on its "1,000 Best Films Ever Made" list...
 
68.
Emir Kusturica
Director, Underground
A Serbian film director. Born in 1954 in Sarajevo. Graduated in film directing at the prestigious Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague in 1978. During his studies, he was awarded several times for his short movies including Guernica (1978), which took first prize at the Student's Film Festival in Karlovy Vary...
 
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71.
Jan Sverák
Director, Kolya
Jan Sverak spent his studies at FAMU Documentary Department and graduated in 1988. Sverak's talent first attracted attention through his short films Space Odyssey II. and Oil Gobblers above all - documentary fiction dealing with "newly discovered species" received the American Academy's Student Oscar (1988)...
 
72.
Goran Paskaljevic
Director, Bure baruta
Goran Paskaljevic is one of Europe's most respected independent directors. He was born in 1947 in Belgrade (Serbia) and he studied at the well-known Prague school of cinema (FAMU). He has made 30 documentaries and 17 feature films (Cabaret Balkan, Special Treatment, Someone Else's America, How Harry Became a Tree, Midwinter Night's Dream, When Day Breaks...
 
73.
Peter Kassovitz
Director, Jakob the Liar
Born in Budapest, he saw his parents taken away to a concentration camp when he was 5. Hidden by a Catholic family, he met his parents after the war (who surprisingly survived the camps). During the Hungarian revolution in 1956, he moved to Paris where he worked as an assistant camera operator and a cameraman. He began directing in 1959.
 
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Pawel Pawlikowski
Director, Ida
A literature and philosophy graduate, with extensive post-graduate work at Oxford on German literature, Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski started as a documentary filmmaker in British television. His second feature, Last Resort, earned him international critical acclaim at numerous festivals, including Toronto and Sundance...
 
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Géla Babluani
Director, 13
Gela Babluani was born in Tblisi in Georgia. He is the son of the prominent director Temur Babluani. At 17 years of age, he and his three siblings were sent to study in France. His first short film, A Fleur de Peau (2002), received critical appraise. His first feature length film is 13 Tzameti, won the World Cinema Jury Prize for a Dramatic motion picture at the Sundance Film Festival.
 
85.
Horatiu Malaele
Actor, Maria
Horatiu Malaele is a Romanian actor and film director born on August 1st 1952 in Targu-Jiu. He graduated the Theater and Cinematography Art Institute in the year 1975. Horatiu Malaele became renowned for his theater plays, which he directed, but also for his characters in Romanian comedy movies. Through his career...
 
86.
Javor Gardev
Director, Zift
Javor Gardev (born 1972, Sofia) holds an MA degree in Philosophy from Sofia University, and in Theatre Directing from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. One of the foremost directors of his native Bulgaria, he has staged over thirty five performances, in his home country and abroad, which were presented in Sofia...
 
89.
Florin Serban
Florin Serban (1975, Romania) studied at Columbia University in New York and holds a Master's Degree in Film Directing. He also graduated from the Romanian National University for Theater and Film in 2002 and received an MA in the Philosophy of Culture and Hermeneutics in 1998. During his studies he wrote and directed short films and documentaries...
 
90.
Agnieszka Holland
Director, Europa Europa
Agnieszka Holland was born 28 of November 1948 in Warsaw but went to Czechoslovakia to study film directing at FAMU in Prague. She began her film career working in Poland with Krzysztof Zanussi as assistant director, and Andrzej Wajda as her mentor. She wrote several scripts with Wajda before directing her own films...
 
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Cãlin Peter Netzer
Calin Peter Netzer was born on the 1st May 1975 in Petrosani [Petroschen], Romania. His family belongs to the Transylvanian Saxons, a cultural minority of German descent who lives since generations in Romania. He was raised mainly in Cluj [Klausenburg]. Netzer's father was a dentist and emigrated to West-Germany in 1981...
 
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Stephan Komandarev
Stephan Komandarev is a Bulgarian director, producer and scriptwriter, with a number of award-wining documentaries and feature films such as: The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner, 2008 (the first Bulgarian film, shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars (2010), the most world-wide theatrical released Bulgarian film ever: in 93 countries...
 
99.
Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
Director, Plemya
Born in Kyiv (Ukraine) in 1974, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi graduated from the filmmaking department of the Kyiv National I. K. Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television University, majoring in feature film directing. He has worked at various Ukrainian film studios in Kyiv (such as the Dovzhenko Film Studio) and Russian film studios in St...
 
100.
László Nemes
Director, Saul fia
László Nemes was born on 18th Feb. 1977 in Budapest, Hungary. He moved to France at 12 with his mother. He grew up in Paris, where he studied History, International Relations and Political Science at the Institut d'Études Politiques, because he couldn't go to film school. After that he started working as an assistant director on short films...