Atom Egoyan

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Atom Egoyan at the third film festival “Golden Apricot” 2006 in Yerevan , of which he is president.

Atom Egoyan ( Armenian Ատոմ Էգոյան ; born July 19, 1960 in Cairo , Egypt ) is a Canadian - Armenian director .

life and work

Atom Egoyan was born in Cairo as the eldest child of Armenian parents who chose his first name on the occasion of the construction of the first Egyptian nuclear reactor . His parents were trained painters who lived off a furniture business. His sister Eve Egoyan is now a classical pianist based in Toronto. The family moved to Victoria, British Columbia , Canada in 1963 , where he grew up trilingual.

At the age of 18 he moved to Toronto to study political science and classical guitar . He graduated from Trinity College of the University of Toronto . Major influences were the playwright Harold Pinter and the writer Samuel Beckett . He has a son named Arshile, is married to the actress and political scientist Arsinée Khanjian and lives in Toronto.

In 1984 the next of kin received an award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival . Familienbilder gained some international attention thanks to the help of Wim Wenders , who in 1987 rejected the jury's prize for Sky over Berlin at the Montreal Festival of New Cinema , with the request that it be presented to Egoyan. After Familienbilder , Egoyan directed television for Friday the 13th (Cupid's Quiver, 1987), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (The Final Twist, 1987 and There Was a Little Girl…, 1988) and The Twilight Zone (The Wall, 1989). Exotica represents his breakthrough and is at the same time a new artistic direction of his work, for which he received the Grand Prix of the Union de la critique de cinéma . The Sweet Beyond from 1997 is considered his best work. The successful Ararat by the filmmaker Egoyan, who focuses on the genocide of the Armenians , started in Germany in 2004 with only five copies. The comparatively straightforward Whodunit True Lies received mixed reviews from the critics.

According to WDR , Egoyan has also made a name for himself as a video artist and opera director. In 2004 he staged Wagner's Die Walküre des Ring cycle in Canada , and Salome in Houston and Vancouver. In addition to various works for television, he also worked on art installations and is active as a publisher and journalist. In 2003 he was the jury president of the Berlinale .

Today he is considered one of the most famous and renowned directors in Canada. For example, in 1998 he received two Oscar nominations for director and screenplay for Das süße Jenseits . In 1988 he received an award at the Berlin International Film Festival . He was invited to the Cannes International Film Festival through the film Dream Roles (1989). Two years later, Egoyan made his international breakthrough with the film The Estimator (1991). In 1994 and 1997 he won four awards at the Cannes Film Festival . He received the Toronto International Film Festival four times for Best Canadian Film, an Independent Spirit Award in 1998 and was nominated for Gemini Awards in 1989 and 1998 . Among other things, it also received eight Genie Awards , the last so far in 2006 . The IMDb counts as of March 10, 2008 41 personal film awards and an additional 34 nominations, making him one of " critically acclaimed makes".

The multiple award-winning drama The Sweet Beyond is in the film canon of the Federal Agency for Civic Education . In Germany, Der Schätzer , Felicia, mein Engel and Das süße Jenseits were “Film of the Month” of the Protestant Film Work jury .

In 1997 he was awarded the Orden Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as Chevalier by the French government . Since 1999 he has been Officer of the Order of Canada  (OC). He holds an honorary doctorate in law from Trinity College, University of Toronto . From 2006 onwards, he has been teaching at the University of Toronto for three years.

Egoyan staged David Hemblen , Don McKellar , Elias Koteas , Mia Kirshner , Bruce Greenwood , Sarah Polley , Ian Holm , Elaine Cassidy , Bob Hoskins , Michael Mcmanus , John Hurt , Charles Aznavour and Christopher Plummer , and regularly his wife Arsinée Khanjian . Mychael Danna became known as a composer at his side. Paul Sarossy used the camera in almost all of the films and he worked with film editor Susan Shipton in eleven joint films .

Themes and aesthetics

His treatment of the conclusion or synthesis deserves attention, where not every viewer is offered a cathartic moment, and narrative, but not psychologically / emotionally cleared up (or in any case unsolvable situations are dealt with).

He and his wife play the main roles in Calendar , under the role names Atom and Arsinée. Later he also filmed a short documentary about his son and his own travel diary.

Egoyan is sometimes seen as a cosmopolitan , just as Canadian cinema is multicultural. He describes himself as Christian-religious, even if he does not belong to any community. Egoyan was not brought up very politically, as he himself says. Ararat became one of his most personal works: " I think it is no coincidence that artists only deal with such issues in the second half of their lives " (Atom Egoyan). Much of the staff was of Armenian descent.

Of his avant-garde films is often heard as a puzzle or game of deception because of their " constructed-nested narrative technique ". His treatment of the conclusion or synthesis deserves attention, where not every viewer is offered a cathartic moment, and narrative, but not psychologically / emotionally cleared up (or in any case unsolvable situations are dealt with). In Exotica , a “ cautious optimism ” is emerging for the first time .

Tobias Lehmann sees his main theme in a review as that of loss . In his thesis "'Look But Don't Touch': Synthesizing Strategies of Denial in the Later Films of Atom Egoyan, 1994–2002" from 2005, Brian Allen Santana examines Egoyan's cinematic work from including Exotica in the light of individual or collective denial / Rejection ( “Denial” ). According to critic Michael Ranze, Where The Truth Lies treats, among other things, the subjectivity of truth , unfulfillable longings, culminating in trauma . A sense of reality and literally wishful thinking are also represented. Egoyan's protagonists in his films, like Egoyan himself in real life, have problems with their personal identity.

Matthias Kraus and Rüdiger Suchsland name the question of identity . Egoyan's own website addresses proximity , exile, and the impact of technology and media on modern life . The technical commentary (“ video as a kind of memory ”) of the early films has given way to the inner family since Exotica . Monique Tschofen finds multilingualism and translation treated as such in a short essay .

Hardly any of the films can be imagined without eroticism, yet Egoyan appears “ sterile and cold ” to some (Matthias Kraus). Sexuality is shown as voyeurism, homosexuality, incest or fetishism.

What is particularly impressive about the overall work is his acting as a guide.

As favorite films he himself nominated Vertigo , Last Year in Marienbad and India Song (D: Marguerite Duras ) for the Time Out in the top places , as actors Faye Dunaway and Dustin Hoffman .

“It's easier to discuss the more theoretical aspects of my work because on an emotional level the questions are almost embarrassingly simple… Why do we need the others? How do we need the others? What do we have to do to get love? What can we sincerely give of ourselves if we don't know who we really are? "

- Atom Egoyan

"In short: Atom Egoyan is an auteur filmmaker par excellence, a skeptical humanist and playful intellectual who persistently knits on his cinematic universe."

- Stefan Lux : One step behind the mirror - Atom Egoyan

Filmography (selection)

Atom Egoyan and Arsinée Khanjian 2008

B = script, D = actor, M = music, P = production, R = direction, S = editing


  • Paul Virilio , Jacqueline Liechenstein, Patrick De Haas: Atom Egoyan . Ed. DIS, VOIR, Paris 1993, ISBN 2-906571-34-2 .
  • Svenja Cussler: Mediatized people, technical memory images, creating images, being God as the director of life . Ed .: Georg Hoefer. Coppi-Verlag, Alfeld / Leine 2002, ISBN 0-7900-0146-2 .
  • Matthias Kraus: Image - Memory - Identity: The films of the Canadian Atom Egoyan . Stoke [u. a.], Marburg 2000, ISBN 3-89472-321-1 .
  • Jonathan Romney: Atom Egoyan (BFI World Directors) . British Film Institute, London 2003, ISBN 0-85170-877-3 .
  • Brian Allen Santana: Look But Don't Touch: Synthesizing Strategies of Denial in the Later Films of Atom Egoyan, 1994-2002. Thesis . North Carolina State University, Raleigh 2005, ISBN 0-85170-877-3 ( [PDF]).
  • Monique Tschofen, Jennifer Burwell: Image and Territory: Essays on Atom Egoyan. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Waterloo 2007, ISBN 978-0-88920-487-4 .
  • Jürgen Felix / Matthias Kraus / Editor: [Article] Atom Egoyan. In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Film directors. Biographies, descriptions of works, filmographies. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008 [1. Ed. 1999], ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4 , pp. 209-213 [with references].


  • "The Directors" - TV, Season 2, Episode 24: The Films of Atom Egoyan . (1999)
  • Formulas for Seduction: The Cinema of Atom Egoyan . (1999, directed by Eileen Anipare, Jason Wood)
  • A Road to Elsewhere . (1999, directed by Robert Cohen, Shari Cohen)
  • Atom structures . The film world of Atom Egoyan. ZDF / ARTE, 67 min. (1994, director: Alexander Bohr)

Web links

Commons : Atom Egoyan  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d IMDb , either on the person or on the respective film.
  2. ^ A b c Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide at The New York Times . The New York Times: Atom Egoyan , accessed November 17, 2007.
  3. a b Santana, p. 8.
  4. Geoff Pevere, TOM McSorley: Atom Egoyan ( English, French ) In: The Canadian Encyclopedia . Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  5. ^ A b c Matthias Kraus: Atom Egoyan. A filmmaker from Canada. , accessed on November 17, 2007.
  6. a b c d e Ego Film Arts, : "intimacy, displacement and the impact of technology and media in modern life" .
  7. ^ Canadian Film Encyclopedia ( September 29, 2007 memento on the Internet Archive ), accessed December 15, 2019
  8. (PDF) accessed on December 2, 2007.
  9. a b fansite, , accessed on December 3, 2007.
  10. fansite, ( Memento from August 21, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on December 3, 2007.
  11. ^ , accessed December 3, 2007.
  12. a b c d The city of dead children . In: Der Spiegel . No. 10 , 1998, pp. 223 f . ( online review of The Sweet Hereafter ).
  13. a b Santana, abstract.
  14. movie service 02/04 (2004), p. 33
  15. a b c Epd Film 2/2006 p. 30 f.
  16. ^ WDR , Kulturweltspiegel ( Memento from May 1, 2004 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on November 13, 2007.
  17. "arthouse darling". Linda Ruth Williams: Songs For Swinging Lovers in Sight & Sound December 2005. , accessed November 17, 2007, replaced by an archive link on July 24, 2013.
  18. Federal Agency for Civic Education , Film Canon , accessed on November 10, 2007.
  19. ^ Governor General of Canada, Honors , accessed November 10, 2007.
  20. University of Toronto , , accessed on April 11 of 2008.
  21. Oriental narrator in western cinema . In: taz , January 25, 2003
  22. a b Film-Dienst 02/04 (2004), p. 13.
  23. a b Epd Film 2/2004 p. 32 f.
  24. a b Lux, p. A 11.
  25. a b c d Robin Detje: Through the desert . In: Die Zeit , No. 6/1992, p. 55. Review of The Adjuster . “Anyone who [...] wants to assert their own aesthetics in a streamlined, standardized industry (and in a time that eagerly claims that there is nothing new in art) can use vanity and egocentricity; it really needs a lot of protection. "
  26. Stefan Lux: A step behind the mirror - Atom Egoyan in Lexikon des Internationale Films , p. A 8 - A 11. p. A 9. Published after Exotica .
  27. a b Lux, p. A 8.
  28. Artechock, , accessed on November 15, 2007.
  29. Also Canadian Film Encyclopedia, on The Sweet Hereafter and Felicia's Journey .
  30. Already in the title.
  31. a b cf. Santana p. 44: “construct a reality” on Felicia's Journey .
  32. a b Also David L. Pike: Four Films in Search of an Author - Egoyan Since Exotica in Bright Lights Film Journal, Issue 52, May 2006.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed November 18, 2007.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  33. cf. Girish Shambu: The Pleasure And Pain Of "Watching": Atom Egoyan's Exotica. (No longer available online.) In: Senses of Cinema. March 2001, archived from the original on December 5, 2008 ; accessed on December 28, 2008 (English).
  34. ^ Rüdiger Suchsland: The return of violence . In: Telepolis , May 24, 2005.
  35. Christiane Peitz: Comforter in Chaos . In: Die Zeit , No. 12/1998, p. 71 ("Every child who grows up with several cultures and languages ​​realizes very early that the character is a construction", quotation from Atom Egoyan).
  36. Also Santana, p. 48 f.
  37. ^ Santana, p. 18, p. 45.
  38. Also Santana, p. 48 f. to Felicia's Journey .
  39. Monique Tschofen: Speaking a / part: Modalities of Translation in Atom Egoyan's Work , ( Memento from November 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 463 kB) accessed on November 19, 2007.
  40. ^ Also lexicon of the international film about The Sweet Hereafter : "very artificial design".
  41. ^ Time Out : Director's Choice. (No longer available online.) In: Eric C. Johnson, archived from the original on March 1, 2009 ; accessed on March 14, 2009 .
  42. ↑ Step behind the mirror in Exotica .