Name:
Marc Forster
Birth Date:
November 30, 1969
Birth Place:
Ulm, Germany
Height:
6' 2
Nationality:
German
Famous for:
Director of 'Monster's Ball' (2001)
Profession:
film director, screenwriter
Education:
New York University's Film School (attended 1990-1993)
BIOGRAPHY
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Monster's Ball Director

Background:

"What I'm passionate about is telling stories which mean something to me." Marc Forster

Germany-born, Switzerland-raised film director and screenwriter Marc Forster got his international breakthrough with his critically-acclaimed dramatic film "Monster's Ball" (2001), which won lead actress Halle Berry a Best Actress award at the Academy Awards. He then went on to direct Johnny Depp in "Finding Neverland" (2004), a semi-biographical film based on the play "The Man Who Was Peter Pan" by Allan Knee. The movie earned Depp a Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.

The director, who was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 2005, also helmed "Stay" (2005), a tense psychological thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling, "Stranger than Fiction" (2006), a surreal romantic comedy starring Will Ferrell, and "The Kite Runner" (2007), an adaptation of Afghanistan author Khaled Hosseini's 2003 novel of the same name.

Forster is currently directing Daniel Craig for the 22nd James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," set for release on November 7, 2008.

When asked how he keeps himself grounded, Forster revealed, "I practice a lot of yoga and meditation and I just enjoy what I do. Storytelling is everything I do. I think one only loses the ground if you start to lose yourself. That mainly happens when you become very tangled with all the people and be very social and really don’t spend too much time with yourself anymore."


Germany-Born, Switzerland-Raised

Childhood and Family:

Born in Ulm, Germany, on November 30, 1969, Marc Forster was raised in Davos, a winter resort in eastern Switzerland. The youngest of three brothers born to Dr. Wolf Forster, a German doctor who died in 1998 from cancer, and his German architect wife, Marc was a student of the famous Institute Montana Zugerberg in Switzerland, then an all-boys school.

“There was a theater in the village, but my parents weren't interested in movies at all. It was the last thing they were interested in. So I didn't see a film until I was 12. It was 1982 and it was 'Apocalypse Now' [laughs]. But the funny thing about that was that I was in New Orleans where I was filming and the executive producer was one of Francis Ford Coppola's friends and Coppola had a house in New Orleans. After two weeks in the hotel, I was going nuts. You couldn't open the window! I was getting claustrophobic. So this executive producer said, 'Ah, well, a friend of mine has a house here.'” Marc Forster

In 1990, when he was 20 years old and had completed his Swiss Maturity degree, Marc left home for New York City to study at the New York University's prestigious film program. After receiving his BA degree from NYU in 1993, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a professional filmmaker.

"I finished high school in Switzerland and I read that NYU was a great film school, so I applied to NYU and got in. My parents couldn't afford it at the time, so I wrote letters to all the rich people in Switzerland I knew, and there were a lot of them. I wrote about 30 letters and the first person I called responded positively and said he would pay the first year of film school and if I had talent he would continuously pay for the rest of my education. So I went to New York and he paid for my first year and that went well and so he kept on paying.” Marc Forster

Marc, who has a live-in girlfriend as of summer 2002, supported a Swiss HIV prevention campaign of the Swiss federal health department alongside Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger in 2005.

Marc became an honorary citizen of Davos in November 2007.


Quantum of Solace

Career:

"When you grow up like that and suddenly you decide you intend to make movies, everybody says, 'It's impossible.' And I'm here and I'm living my dream." Marc Forster

Growing up in the mountains of Switzerland without television and unable to watch his first film until age 12, Marc Forster left home at age 20 to study at New York University's prestigious film program. Shortly after graduation, the aspiring filmmaker made two documentary films for European television.

Forster subsequently moved to Los Angeles to further his career as a filmmaker. He directed his first feature, "Loungers" (1995), a thriller project starring Lisa Deanna, Greg Lauren and Sebastian Roche. Telling a story about a lounge singer who recruits his amnesiac sister to kill their parents, the film won the Slamdance Audience Award's Best Feature.

Five years later, in 2000, Forster directed "Everything Put Together," an independent drama about a woman (played by Radha Mitchell) coping with the loss of a child and her shallow friendships. It premiered at Sundance, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic). "Everything Put Together" was also nominated for Best Feature - Under $500,000 at the Independent Spirit Awards, where it also won the Someone to Watch Award.

The following year, Forster scored his big break when he directed the critically acclaimed "Monster's Ball" (2001), a drama film about an African American woman (played by Halle Barry) who becomes romantically involved with a racist white man (played by Billy Bob Thornton) who executed her husband (played by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) on death row. The film garnered general positive reviews and was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. It also won Berry Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards. Despite numerous positive reviews of the film, some African Americans were split over Berry's winning the award and urged a boycott of the film.

When asked if he had any fears or worries about making a film like “Monster's Ball” that could be seen as critical of America, Forster admitted, "Yes, sure. You're always open to a lot more criticism when you make a film about people in a different country. But that's the challenge. I read the screenplay and, just thematically, there was so much more to work with. It was written very simply and yet it was a very complex story."

He also revealed that he didn't want Berry for the role at first. He explained, “Right, at the beginning, I knew that she was already a pretty big star in America and just assumed that she wouldn't be prepared to do this sex scene. I mean, there had been this big discussion when she did 'Swordfish' with John Travolta. And I thought, well, if it's such a difficult matter for her to do that, then I don't know if she'd be willing to shoot such a scene. So we met two or three times and I offered her the role and I thought that she showed so much passion for it that there was something inside her that no one else had revealed. And I thought that if I could manage to pull that out, then we could work very well together.”

Three years after his international breakthrough, Forster was offered the opportunity to direct “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), which he declined. Instead, he directed Johnny Depp as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie and Kate Winslet as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the widowed mother of four boys who served as the inspiration for Barrie, in "Finding Neverland" (2004), a semi-biographical film based on the play "The Man Who Was Peter Pan" by Allan Knee. Forster's work earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director - Motion Picture, the David Lean Award for Direction nomination at the BAFTA Awards, and a Critics Choice Award - Best Director nomination at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards. He was also nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures and took home the Laterna Magica Prize from the Venice Film Festival. The film also earned Depp an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Forster was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 2005. That same year, he also produced a low budget drama/comedy film by Renée Chabria (she worked with him in "Monster's Ball," 2001) and "Finding Neverland" (2004).

Additionally, he directed "Stay," a tense psychological thriller about a psychiatrist (played by Ewan McGregor) whose suicidal client (played by Ryan Gosling) makes some bizarre predictions that begin to come true. Despite a complex visual style and an experienced cast, the film did poorly at the box office and received mixed reviews by critics.

In 2006, Forster directed a romantic comedy called "Stranger than Fiction." starring Will Ferrell as an IRS auditor whose world is turned upside down when he begins to hear the voice of a woman. The film was a modest success at the box office and earned Ferrell a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.

Forster won the Director of the Year award at the 2007 Hollywood Film Festival. He also directed the feature adaptation of Afghanistan author Khaled Hosseini's 2003 novel, "The Kite Runner," which follows an Afghani-American man who returns to his war-torn country to save the son of his former childhood friend. Though most of the film is set in Afghanistan and much of the film's dialogue is in Dari Persian, the scenes were primarily shot in Kashgar, China, due to the dangers of filming in Afghanistan at the time. The film, which was banned by the Afghan government from movie theaters and DVD shops because of the rape scene and the ethnic tensions that the film highlights, recently won a Christopher Award in 2008. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 65th Golden Globe Awards and Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards.

On casting unknown actors, including British actor Khalid Abdalla, UAE-based actor Zekeria Ebrahimi, and Iranian actor Homayoun Ershadi for "The Kite Runner" (2007), Forster explained, "Because to a certain degree you have to play the film in Farsi because it’s set in Afghanistan in the 70’s and you need to have the film in its original language."

Forster is currently sitting in the director's chair directing Daniel Craig for the 22nd James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace." The sequel to the 2006 "Casino Royale," "Quantum of Solace" will follow Bond, assisted by a mysterious half-Ukrainian, half-Bolivian woman (played by Olga Kurylenko), as he battles environmentalist Dominic Greene (played by Mathieu Amalric), a member of a cover organization called Green Planet who intends to stage a coup d'état in a Latin American country. "Quantum of Solace" is scheduled for release on November 7, 2008.

About the production, he revealed, "Financially, there are limits, even on a Bond film. Otherwise, I have been able to realize my vision."


Awards:

  • Christopher: Feature Films, "The Kite Runner," 2008

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Director of the Year, 2007

  • Venice Film Festival: Laterna Magica Prize, "Finding Neverland," 2004

  • Independent Spirit: Someone to Watch Award, "Everything Put Together," 2001

  • Slamdance Film Festival: Audience Award-Best Feature, "Loungers," 1996

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