In the '90s Olivier Assayas emerged as one of the key figures in the new generation of French filmmakers. As a former critic for Cahiers du Cinema and a die-hard cinephile, he makes his films both personal and referential to the works of directors that he adores. His father was a director/screenwriter in the 1940s who later worked mainly for TV. When it was increasingly difficult for him to work because of a health condition, Olivier started to help him, first merely as a secretary, and then ghostwriting a few screenplays for the Maigret TV series. In the late 1970s he joined the team of influential film magazine Cahiers du Cinema, that once launched the French New Wave. While working for Cahiers he wrote essays on his favorite European filmmakers, Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, and published extensive studies on American horror films and Hong Kong Cinema (the latter came out long before Hong Kong cinema became fashionable with Western filmgoers and critics). He collaborated on screenplays of two André Téchiné films, Rendez-Vous and Le Lieu du Crime, and directed a few shorts before making his feature debut in 1986 with Desordre. Though his films enjoyed considerable critical acclaim in France and at international film festivals, his name was virtually unknown in English-speaking countries until the release of his 1996 film Irma Vep, a loving tribute both to Louis Feuillade and Hong Kong cinema. Still faithful to his critical roots, he later directed a documentary on Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien.
Biography by Yuri German
- Il a débuté comme critique aux Cahiers du cinéma.
- Il a fait tourner son ex-compagne Maggie Cheung a deux reprises : dans Irma Vep en 1996, puis, deux ans après leur divorce, dans Clean (2004), qui vaut à l'actrice le prix d'interprétation à Cannes.
- En 2008, il collabore avec le chorégraphe Angelin Prljocaj pour la mise en image du ballet Eldorado.
- Deux ans plus tard, il présente Carlos, un téléfilm sur la vie du célèbre terroriste.
- Il réalise en 2012 Après mai, qui reçoit le prix du meilleur scénario à la Mostra de Venise.
- En 2017, il tourne Idol's Eye avec Sylvester Stallone et Robert Pattinson et Doubles Vies avec Juliette Binoche et Guillaume Canet.
- Il dirige en 2019 Penelope Cruz dans Wasp Network, un film d'espionnage sur des espions Anti-Castro.