Kassovitz was born on August 3rd, 1967 in Paris. His
father, Peter Kassovitz, is a director (Jacob
the Liar) and his mother is a film editor.
With this kind of creative influence, it’s easy
to understand why he chose to work in the film business.
“My parents work in the film business. If
they had been bakers, I would have been a baker. They
were film-makers, so I became a film-maker."
(Positive, n°412, June, 1995).
became interested in film at the age of six when his
father helped him discover the work of Steven Spielberg.
He spent a lot of time at his father’s film
shoots. In 1979, he played alongside Jane Birkin in
Au Bout du Bout du Banc, directed
by his father. Very quickly Mathieu began to learn
everything he could about making films.
became a trainee during the summer and returned to
school the following September. At seventeen years
of age he decided to quit school and pursue the film
business full time. He became the second assistant
director on the film Moitié-Moitié.
Then he became first assistant director on some industrial
Thinking that he wasn’t good enough, he decided
to stop that for a while and he started working on
his first short film, Fierrot le Pou.
Slowly but surely, and thanks to Christophe
Rossignon, he directed two other short films:
Cauchemar Blanc in 1991 and Assassins
in 1992. Assassins was an “exercise
in style” in preparation for his first full-length
film Métisse (aka Cafe au
lait) . It also tested a technical team that he would
use again in Métisse.
The results confirmed his talent as a director.
He acted in Regarde Les Hommes Tomber
alongside Jean Louis Trintignant for director Jacques
Audiart in 1993. He received two awards for his role,
a César for “most promising actor”
and the Jean Gabin award.
in 1993, he released his first full-length film, Métisse,
which was critically well-received. This put him in
the category of a “new director to keep an eye
it wasn’t until 1995 that Mathieu became really
well known because of his film La Haine
(aka Hate) which won a Golden Palm award for best
direction at the 48th Cannes Film Festival, and a
César for best film and best editing. That
same year, his career finally took off. He made a
“cameo” appearance in La Cité
des Enfants Perdus (aka City of lost Children)
by Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.
1996, he played Albert Denhousse, a “self-made
hero”, in Jacques Audiard’s Un
Héros Très Discret (aka A self-made
hero). He then played Clément in Bertrand Blier’s
In 1997, he participated in the financing of Albert
Dupontel’s Bernie, and released
Assassin(s), which raised a great
debate at Cannes and in the press. Mathieu Kassovitz
shocks! And likes to shock! This third full-length
film had been developed from the short film of the
same name, but without the restraints. He also played
the small role of a mugger in Luc Besson’s The
1998, he was in Le Plaisir et Ses Petits Tracas,
a film by Nicolas Boukrief (co-writer of La Haine
and Assassins). He also had a role in his father’s
film, Jacob the Liar, which came
out at the end of 1999.
year 2000 saw the release of Les Rivières
Pourpres (aka The crimson rivers) which was
very well received by the public in France and abroad.
Between the filming of Amélie and the editing
of Les Rivières Pourpres,
Mathieu Kassovitz promoted Printemps
and directed the clip Y’a for
Sayan Supa Crew, a french hip-hop band.
Fabuleux d’Amélie Poulain (aka
Amelie) was released in 2001. From this point on,
Mathieu Kassovitz had literally become the character,
Nino Quincampois, in everyone’s mind. Even Lancôme,
the cosmetics company, knew this and they asked him
to help promote their latest fragrance for men, Miracle.
Mathieu, director and actor, had now become a model!
But, just for a little while!
year 2002 started with a bang with the release of
the Costa Gavras film Amen, in which
Mathieu Kassovitz plays a young priest, trying to
warn the pope about the extermination of the Jews
during the Second World War.
update : 04.23.2003
Thanks to Susan for