French version

Mathieu 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).

Mathieu 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.

He 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 films.
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.

Also 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 on!”

But 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.

In 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 Mon Homme.

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 Fifth Element.

In 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.

The 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.

Le 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!

The 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.

 

Last update : 04.23.2003
Thanks to Susan for the translation.