Reversal of Fortune
Iran-born, Colombia and Paris-raised movie director and producer Barbet Schroeder began his career in French cinema in the 1960s working with such filmmakers as Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette. At age 23, he co-founded the production company Les Films du Losange, which has produced some of the best-known films of the French New Wave, including “My Night at Maudís” (1969), “Celine and Julie Go Boating” (1974), “Chinese Roulette” (1976) and “The American Friend” (1977).
Schroeder marked his directorial debut with “More” (1969), which became a hit in Europe. He later went on to direct more mainstream Hollywood fare, such as “Barfly” (1987; starring Mickey Rourke), “Single White Female” (1992; starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda), and “Reversal of Fortune” (1990; star Jeremy Irons won an Academy Award; Schroeder was nominated a Best Director Academy Award). He also made smaller films such as the 1974 documentary “General Idi Amin Dada,” the 1985 collection of short-interviews “The Charles Bukowski Tapes,” the adaptation of Colombian writer Fernando Vallejo's controversial novel “La virgen de los sicarios” (2000; aka “Our Lady of the Assassins”), and “Avocat de la terreur, L'” (2007; aka “Terror's Advocate”), a documentary on the controversial lawyer and former Free French Forces guerrilla Jacques Vergès.
Schroeder has also made some acting appearances, most notably his cameo appearance as the President of France in “Mars Attacks” (1996). He will soon direct his upcoming French film, a thriller titled “Inju.”
Iran, Colombia and Paris
Childhood and Family:
“It is one of those places dear to my heart.” Barbet Schroeder (on Colombia)
Born in Teheran, Iran, on August 26, 1941 to a Swiss geologist father and a German-born, non-practicing physician mother, Barbet Schroeder spent his formative years in the oil-rich countries of Iran, and then Colombia, where the family moved to when he was 6 years old. At age 11, his parents separated and young Schroeder moved to Paris with his mother, where he studied philosophy at Sorbonne, at the University of Paris.
In the early 2000s in Las Vegas, Schroeder married actress Bulle Ogier after almost 25 years of engagement.
Building his interest in motion pictures while living in France, Barbet Schroeder formed the production company Les Films du Losange alongside French film director and screenwriter Eric Rohmer. He soon made his first short film as a producer with Rohmer's as-yet-unreleased 23-minute romantic film, “La Boulangere de Monceau” (1962; aka “The Bakery Girl of Monceau”), which Schroeder narrated.
The next year, Schroeder worked as the production assistant to French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard in his adaptation of the play “Les Carabiniers” (1963; aka “The Carabineers”), in which Schroeder also acted as a car salesman in one scene. He then made his first feature as a producer in “Paris vu par...” (aka “Six in Paris”), a 1965 film capitalizing on the worldwide success of the French New Wave with segments by six celebrated directors: Douchet, Rouch, Pollet, Rohmer, Godard and Chabrol. Schroeder also acted in Rouch's sequence "Gare du Nord."
In 1969, Schroeder made his feature directing and co-writing (with Paul Gegauff) debut in “More,” a romantic crime drama about heroin addiction on the island of Ibiza. It stars Mimsi Farmer and Klaus Grunberg and features a soundtrack written and performed by Pink Floyd (later released as the album “Music from the Film More”). That same year, he also produced Rohmer's Oscar nominated drama film “Ma Nuit Chez Maud” (aka “My Night at Maud's;” starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Françoise Fabian), the third movie in the series of the “Six Moral Tales.” By this time, Schroeder had had several careers, including film critic (for Cahiers du Cinema), photojournalist, and jazz impresario, before hitting the age of 30.
Schroeder reunited with Rohmer as the producer of “Chloe in the Afternoon” (1972; aka “L'Amour l'après-midi;” starring Bernard Verley, Zouzou and Françoise Verley), the sixth and final movie in the series of the “Six Moral Tales.” Also that year, he directed and co-wrote (with Gegauff) “La Vallee” (aka “The Valley”), an action drama starring Bulle Ogier that explores sexual freedom, mind alteration and the pursuit of paradise against the backdrop of an early 70's encounter with some of the most isolated groups of human beings on earth in the bush of New Guinea. The Pink Floyd album “Obscured by Clouds” is the soundtrack for the film.
After serving as the producer of Jacques Rivette's hypnotic, circular film, “Celine and Julie Go Boating” (Schroeder also acted; the film won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1974), Schroeder wrote and helmed the fascinating documentary on the military dictator of Africa's Uganda, “General Idi Amin Dada.” He then directed and co-wrote “Maitresse” (1976; starring Bulle Ogier and Gérard Depardieu in an early role), which provoked controversy in the United Kingdom and the United States because of its graphic depictions of sado-masochistic behavior. It was first considered for release by the British Board of Film Classification in 1976, but was banned from release. The film was resubmitted in 1981 and was released with an X certificate following 4 minutes and 47 seconds of cuts from the most graphic scenes. The film was submitted for a third time in 2003, passed and was rated X in the United States.
Next, Schroeder produced Rohmer's stylized look at the Chrétien de Troyes's 12th century Arthurian romantic novel, “Perceval le Gallois” (1978; aka “Perceval;” starring Fabrice Luchini, André Dussolier and Arielle Dombasle), and acted in Pierre Zucca's fantasy drama “Roberte” (1979), which Schroeder has claimed was his favorite performing job. Two years later, he served as the producer of Rivette's romantic fantasy/mystery film “Le Pont du Nord” (1982; starring Bulle Ogier and Pascale Ogier).
In 1985, Schroeder made 52 short films. “The Charles Bukowski Tapes” is a collection of short-interviews with the alcoholic, provocative writer/poet. It was first published in 1987 in the USA and is considered a cult classic today. Schroeder followed it up with directing and producing the feature film “Barfly” (1989; starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway), which was based on Bukowski's life and was written by him. Bukowski was also featured as a silent cameo in the film. The film later earned Schroeder a Golden Palm nomination at the Cannes Film Festival.
Schroeder received critical acclaim in Hollywood in 1990 when he brought Alan Dershowitz's 1985 book, “Reversal of Fortune,” to the big screen. It tells the true story of British socialite Claus von Bulow's trial for the attempted murder of his socialite wife Sunny von Bülow (played by Glenn Close). Star Jeremy Irons, who portrayed Claus von Bülow, won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Schroeder was also nominated for a Best Director Oscar.
Following his Oscar nomination, Schroeder helmed and produced the psychological thriller “Single White Female” (1992), based on John Lutz's novel “SWF Seeks Same.” The movie starred Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steven Weber. He also acted in Patrice Chereau's French-German-Italian film based on the 1845 historical novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas “père, La Reine Margot” (1994; aka “Queen Margot;” starring Isabelle Adjani), which won 5 César Awards and two awards at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Costume Design.
During the rest of the 1990s, Schroeder directed and produced the crime/detective thriller “Kiss of Death” (1995; starring David Caruso, Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson), a remake of the 1947 film of the same name which starred Richard Widmark, and portrayed the president of France in Tim Burton's sci-fi comedy movie “Mars Attacks” (1996; with Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening and Pierce Brosnan), based on the popular card series of the same name. He also directed Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep in the family drama “Before and After” (1996), based on the 1992 novel of the same title by Rosellen Brown, and helmed the action thriller “Desperate Measures” (1998), starring Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia, Brian Cox and Marcia Gay Harden.
Entering the new millennium, Schroeder garnered praise and accolades for directing “Our Lady of the Assassins” (aka “La Virgen de los Sicarios;” starring Germán Jaramillo), which is adapted from the novel of the same title by Fernando Vallejo. The film centers on a fifty-something Colombian writer who returns to his hometown of Medellín only to find himself trapped in an atmosphere of violence and murder caused by drug cartel warfare. It received rave reviews at several film festivals.
In August 2001, Schroeder contributed the article "Colombia: Land Of Death" to men's magazine “Playboy.” He also returned to the director's chair, helming and producing “Murder by Numbers,” a psychological thriller film loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb case, the Columbine High School massacre, and the Dartmouth Murders. It stars Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin and Ryan Gosling.
The subsequent years saw Schroeder appear in Luc Bondy's “Ne fais pas ça” (2004; as a client in a restaurant), Xavier Giannoli's romantic drama “Une aventure” (2005), the ensemble romantic film “Paris, je t'aime” (2006) and Jacques Rivette's adaptation of Honoré de Balzac's romantic novel, “Ne touchez pas la hache” (2007; aka “Don't Touch the Axe”). He recently directed “Avocat de la terreur, L'” (2007; aka “Terror's Advocate;” Schroeder also narrated), a documentary on Jacques Vergès, the controversial lawyer and former Free French Forces guerrilla who has defended unpopular figures such as Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.
It has been announced that Schroeder will direct his upcoming French film, a thriller titled “Inju,” which will be filmed in Tokyo, Japan.
Verzaubert - International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival: Best Film, “Virgen de los sicarios, La,” 2001
Havana Film Festival: Best Work of a Non-Latin American Director on a Latin America Subject, “Virgen de los sicarios, La,” 2000
Venice Film Festival: The President of the Italian Senate's Gold Medal, “Virgen de los sicarios, La,” 2000