Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan (born 19.07.1960, Cairo, Egypt)
Atom Egoyan occupies a distinct position within Canadian filmmaking — that of auteur. His unequivocal authorial vision and inimitable style are sustained throughout a body of work that includes 10 feature films. Egoyan is the most consummate filmmaker of his generation, and his films appeal to national and international audiences alike and, increasingly, receive greater critical acclaim and commercial success.
Born in Cairo of Armenian descent and raised in Victoria, B.C., Egoyan moved to Toronto at 18 to study international relations at the University of Toronto. While studying, two formative encounters fused to inform his life work — fluency with his ethnic heritage and the cinema. Egoyan produced several short films at the Hart House Film Board while furthering his knowledge of Armenian history and politics. His films relentlessly highlight the act of looking from both structural and thematic perspectives, fully exploiting possible implications from knowledge to voyeurism to comprehension and insight. At the same time, the oft-used Canadian filmic tropes of identity and its uncertainty, image and technology, and communication or the lack thereof compete for equal thematic screen time. The content, aesthetics and production contexts of Egoyan’s films are decidedly interstitial. Multi-directional, they spring from national and diasporic contexts, between art cinema narration and the recent adoption of popular genres, chiefly the thriller, that coalesce into an unprecedented brand of filmmaking. Still, Egoyan remains our resident “spokes-filmmaker” for Canada’s brand of New World modernity.
Key Egoyan sensibilities emerge in Next of Kin (1984) and continue throughout Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991), though these early features share a fascination with surface affectation particular to emerging filmmakers of the period.
The films of the mid-1990s offer a more profound exploration of contemporary anxieties. Calendar (1993), a work both raw and tender, wrestles with belonging and identity from here to Armenia and back again. With Exotica (1994), perhaps an apt title for all of Egoyan’s enterprise, original trauma (Armenia’s genocide) shifts into the more familiar terrain of terrifying psychic dispossession. The adaptations of The Sweet Hereafter (1997) and Felicia’s Journey (1999) (novels by Russell Banks and William Trevor, respectively) effortlessly mesh with Egoyan’s preoccupations, as both stories' claustrophobic worlds turn on the themes of loss and violation.
With Ararat (2002), Egoyan widens the standard intimacy of his palette to produce the first film to wrestle with the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Egoyan’s art installations have similarly gained distinction to include works completed for the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the Venice Biennale and Le Frenoy in France. His latest projects span from Evidence (2002) to Notorious (2000) (a video installation that commemorates Alfred Hitchcock) to Diaspora (a short film with music by Philip Glass, which is part of the program Philip on Film) to Hors d’usage, a soundscape work based on reel-to-reel tapes of Montreal residents. Krapp’s Last Tape (2000), a film adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s play, attests to Egoyan’s tremendous formal latitude, one that defies the supposed restrictions of film as a popular medium.

Howard in Particular (1979), After Grad with Dad (1980), Peep Show (1981), Open House (1982), Next of Kin (1984), Men: A Passion Playground (1985), Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989), The Adjuster (1991), Montrռal vu par... (1992), Episode 3: En passant (1992), Calendar (1993), Exotica (1994), Portrait of Arshile (1995), The Sweet Hereafter (1996), Felicia’s Journey (1999), Krapp’s Last Tape (2000), Diaspora(2001), Philip on Film (2001), Ararat (2002), Where the Truth Lies (2005), Adoration (2008).




 Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation
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