Greatest French Film Director

by Dibyayan_Chakravorty | created - 09 Nov 2014 | updated - 26 Aug 2017 | Public

Who do you think is the greatest French Film Director?

Discuss the list here

1. François Truffaut

Writer | La nuit américaine

French director François Truffaut began to assiduously go to the movies at age seven. He was also a great reader but not a good pupil. He left school at 14 and started working. In 1947, aged 15, he founded a film club and met André Bazin, a French critic, who became his protector. Bazin helped the ...

2. Jean-Luc Godard

Director | À bout de souffle

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of ...

3. Claude Chabrol

Director | Le beau Serge

Claude Chabrol was born on June 24, 1930 in Paris, France. He was a director and writer, known for Le Beau Serge (1958), Story of Women (1988) and The Swindle (1997). He was married to Aurore Chabrol, Stéphane Audran and Agnès Goute. He died on September 12, 2010 in Paris.

4. Robert Bresson

Writer | Au hasard Balthazar

Robert Bresson trained as a painter before moving into films as a screenwriter, making a short film (atypically a comedy), Affaires publiques (1934) in 1934. After spending more than a year as a German POW during World War II, he made his debut with Les anges du péché (1943) in 1943. ...

5. Louis Malle

Director | Au revoir les enfants

Louis Malle, the descendant of a French nobleman who made a fortune in beet sugar during the Napoleonic Wars, created films that explored life and its meaning. Malle's family discouraged his early interest in film but, in 1950, allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies ...

6. Luc Besson

Writer | Le cinquième élément

Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. His early life was entirely aquatic. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of The Big Blue (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...

7. Jean Cocteau

Writer | La belle et la bête

Jean Cocteau was one of the most multi-talented artists of the 20th century. In addition to being a director, he was a poet, novelist, painter, playwright, set designer, and actor. He began writing at 10 and was a published poet by age 16. He collaborated with the "Russian Ballet" company of Sergei...

8. Jacques Tati

Writer | Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot

The comic genius Jacques Tati was born Taticheff, descended from a noble Russian family. His grandfather, Count Dimitri, had been a general in the Imperial Army and had served as military attaché to the Russian Embassy in Paris. His father, Emmanuel Taticheff, was a well-to-do picture framer who ...

9. Jean Renoir

Writer | La grande illusion

Son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste, he had a happy childhood. Pierre Renoir was his brother, and Claude Renoir was his nephew. After the end of World War I, where he won the Croix de Guerre, he moved from scriptwriting to filmmaking. He married Catherine Hessling, for whom he ...

10. Alain Resnais

Director | Hiroshima mon amour

Alain Resnais was born on June 3, 1922 in Vannes, Morbihan, France as Alain Pierre Marie Jean Georges Resnais. He was a director and editor, known for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Same Old Song (1997) and Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980). He was married to Sabine Azéma and Florence Malraux. He ...

11. Jean-Pierre Melville

Actor | À bout de souffle

The name "Melville" is not immediately associated with film. It conjures up images of white whales and crackbrained captains, of naysaying notaries and soup-spilling sailors. It is the countersign to a realm of men and their deeds, both heroic and villainous. It is the American novel, with its ...

12. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Director | Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a self-taught director who was very quickly interested by cinema, with a predilection for a fantastic cinema where form is as important as the subject. Thus he started directing TV commercials and video clips (such as Julien Clerc in 1984). At the same time he met designer/...

13. Abdellatif Kechiche

Writer | La vie d'Adèle

Abdellatif Kechiche was born on December 7, 1960 in Tunis, Tunisia. He is a writer and director, known for Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013), L'esquive (2003) and The Secret of the Grain (2007).

14. Marcel Carné

Director | Le quai des brumes

Marcel Carné, the son of a cabinet maker, entered the movies as the assistant of Jacques Feyder. At the age of 25 he directed his first movie Jenny (1936). Colaborating with the writer Jacques Prévert, the decorator Alexandre Trauner, the musician and composer Maurice Jaubert and the actor Jean ...

15. Henri-Georges Clouzot

Writer | Le salaire de la peur

Beginning his film career as a screenwriter, Henri-Georges Clouzot switched over to directing and in 1943 had the distinction of having his film Le Corbeau (1943) banned by both the German forces occupying France and the Free French forces fighting them, but for different reasons. He shot to ...

16. Philippe de Broca

Director | L'homme de Rio

Philippe de Broca born in 1933 worked as an assistant for Claude Chabrol and Francois Truffaut ( "Les 400 coups" aka "The 400 blows" ). From 1960 to 2004 he directed over 30 full-length feature films, including the highly successful adventure movies such as "That Man from Rio" (L'Homme de Rio) in ...

17. Jacques Becker

Writer | Le trou

His interest in films was stimulated by a meeting with King Vidor, who offered him employment in the US as actor and assistant director. However, he remained in France and became assistant to Jean Renoir, a friend of the family, during that director's peak period (1932-39). In 1934 he ventured ...

18. René Clair

Writer | Le silence est d'or

René Clair was born on November 11, 1898 in Paris, France as René-Lucien Chomette. He was a writer and director, known for Le silence est d'or (1947), The Grand Maneuver (1955) and Beauties of the Night (1952). He was married to Bronia Clair. He died on March 15, 1981 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, ...

19. Éric Rohmer

Director | Le genou de Claire

Admirers have always had difficulty explaining Éric Rohmer's "Je ne sais quoi." Part of the challenge stems from the fact that, despite his place in French Nouvelle Vague (i.e., New Wave), his work is unlike that of his colleagues. While this may be due to the auteur's unwillingness to conform, ...

20. René Clément

Director | Jeux interdits

René Clément was one of the leading French directors of the post-World War II era. He directed what are regarded as some of the greatest films of the time, such as The Battle of the Rails (1946), Forbidden Games (1952) and The Day and the Hour (1963). He was later almost forgotten as a director. He...

21. Max Ophüls

Director | La ronde

Director Max Ophüls was born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrücken, Germany. He began his career as a stage actor and director in the golden twenties. He worked in cities such as Stuttgart, Dortmund, Wuppertal, Vienna, Frankfurt, Breslau and Berlin. In 1929 his son Marcel Ophüls was born in Frankfurt, ...

22. 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,...

23. Mathieu Kassovitz

Actor | Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

Mathieu Kassovitz was born on August 3, 1967 in Paris, France. He is an actor, known for Amélie (2001), La Haine (1995) and The Crimson Rivers (2000). He is married to Julie Mauduech. They have one child.

24. Bertrand Tavernier

Director | Un dimanche à la campagne

Bertrand Tavernier was a law student that preferred write film criticisms. He also wrote a few books about American movies. Then his first film won a few awards in France and abroad and established his reputation.

25. Michel Gondry

Director | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

He grew up in Versailles with a family who was very influenced by pop music. When he was young, Gondry wanted to be a painter or an inventor. In the 80s he entered in an art school in Paris where he could develop his graphic skills and where he also met friends with whom he created a pop-rock band ...

26. Jacques Audiard

Writer | De rouille et d'os

Born in Paris, France, in 1952. Jacques Audiard's family has always been involved in movie business. His father, Michel, was a popular screenwriter and director and his uncle a producer. But in his teens he refused that world and wanted to be a teacher. He studied literature and philosophy at the ...

27. Jean-Jacques Annaud

Director | Der Name der Rose

Jean-Jacques Annaud is a French film director, screenwriter and producer, best known for directing Quest for Fire (1981), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Lover (1992), Seven Years in Tibet (1997) and Le dernier loup (2015). Annaud has received numerous awards for his work, including four César ...

28. François Ozon

Director | Dans la maison

François Ozon was born on November 15, 1967 in Paris, France. He is a director and writer, known for Dans la maison (2012), 8 femmes (2002) and Young & Beautiful (2013).

29. Georges Méliès

Director | Le royaume des fées

Georges Méliès was a French illusionist and film director famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema.

Méliès was an especially prolific innovator in the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splices, multiple exposures, ...

30. Costa-Gavras

Director | Missing

Costa-Gavras was born on February 12, 1933 in Loutra-Iraias, Greece as Konstantinos Gavras. He is a director and writer, known for Missing (1982), Z (1969) and Amen. (2002). He has been married to Michèle Ray-Gavras since 1968. They have two children.

31. Agnès Varda

Director | Sans toit ni loi

Agnès Varda was born on May 30, 1928 in Brussels, Belgium as Arlette Varda. She is a director and writer, known for Vagabond (1985), Le Bonheur (1965) and Les plages d'Agnès (2008). She was previously married to Jacques Demy.

32. Jacques Demy

Director | Les parapluies de Cherbourg

Jacques Demy was born on June 5, 1931 in Pontchâteau, Loire-Atlantique, France. He was a director and writer, known for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), Une Chambre en Ville (1982) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). He was married to Agnès Varda. He died on October 27, 1990 in Paris, France.

33. Claude Lelouch

Director | Un homme et une femme

Claude Lelouch was born on October 30, 1937 in Paris, France. He is a writer and director, known for A Man and a Woman (1966), Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté (1988) and Les misérables (1995). He is married to Valérie Perrin. He was previously married to Alessandra Martines, ...

34. Claude Berri

Writer | Jean de Florette

Claude Berri was born on July 1, 1934 in Paris, France as Claude Berel Langmann. He was a producer and actor, known for Jean de Florette (1986), Germinal (1993) and The Two of Us (1967). He was married to Anne-Marie Rassam and Sylvie Gautrelet. He died on January 12, 2009 in Paris.

35. Alice Guy

Director | Shadows of the Moulin Rouge

Generally considered to be the world's first female director, French-born Alice Guy entered the film business as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The next year Gaumont changed from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, and Guy became one of its first film directors. She impressed the the ...



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