PROFILE
Name:
Bertrand Tavernier
Birth Date:
April 25, 1941
Birth Place:
Lyon, Rhône, France
Nationality:
French
BIOGRAPHY
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Life and Nothing But

Background:

“When I do a film, I like to not only be involved with the emotion, but also the context around the character. I want to show the environment and I want, sometimes, to deal with social and political issues because they are organic to the jobs of people.” Bertrand Tavernier

Bertrand Tavernier is an acclaimed French director, screenwriter and producer. Among his noted work include “The Clockmaker of St. Paul” (1974), “Let Joy Reign Supreme” (1975), “Coup de Torchon” (1981), “A Sunday in the Country” (1984), “'Round Midnight” (1986), “Life and Nothing But” (1989), “Fresh Bait” (1995), “Captain Conan” (1996), “It All Starts Today” (1999), “Safe Conduct” (2002) and “Holy Lola” (2004). He has won a BAFTA Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, five César Awards, a Venice Film Festival Award and several

Berlin International Film Festival Awards, among other awards and nominations. Prior to making his feature directing debut in early 1970s, Tavernier wrote film criticism for major journals in France, worked as an assistant director and publicist as well as authored a few books on American films.

Tavernier is fond of jazz and gastronomy. He is the father of actor Nils Tavernier and screenwriter/novelist/assistant director Tiffany Tavernier.


Lyon Boy

Childhood and Family:

Bertrand Tavernier was born on April 25, 1941, in Lyon, Rhône, France. His father, Rene Tavernier, edited one of few independent journals in Vichy France. He died on December 16, 1989 in Paris, France at age 74. His mother's name is Geneviève. Bertrand attended Lycee Henri IV and Sorbonne, University of Paris. He knew that he wanted to make films around age 13 or 14. His major cinematic influences include Jacques Becker, John Ford, Jean Renoir, Jean Vigo, and William Wellman.

Bertrand was married to screenwriter Claudine (Colo) O'Hagen in 1965. They separated in 1980 and divorced three years later. The marriage produced one son, Nils Tavernier (born September 1, 1965), and one daughter, Tiffany Tavernier (born 1967).


It All Starts Today

Career:

A law student that preferred write film criticisms, Bertrand Tavernier eventually quit school to write for the film journals, “Cahiers du Cinema” and “Positif” in the 1960s. He also wrote a few books about American cinemas and worked as an assistant director and publicist for Jean-Pierre Melville, Mario Caiano, and Pierre Schoendoerffer, among other directors. Tavernier made his directorial debut with a sketch for the 1964 film “Les Baisers” (“The Kisses”) called “Baiser de Judas” (“Kiss of Judas”). Three years later, he co-scripted “Mexican Slayride” (1967), an Italian action/crime film helmed by Riccardo Freda. He also co-wrote (with Jean Ardy and director Jean Leduc) the 198 adventure film “Capitaine Singrid.”

Tavernier eventually made his feature film directorial debut (also co-wrote the script) with “The Clockmaker of St. Paul” (1974), an adaptation of Georges Simenon's novel, “L'Horloger d'Everton.” The film was entered into the 24th Berlin International Film Festival, in which it won the OCIC Award for Competition and the Silver Berlin Bear for Special Jury Prize and was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear. It also won the Prix Louis Delluc. His sophomore effort, “Let Joy Reign Supreme” (“Que la fête commence...”, 1975), a historical drama set during the 18th century French Régence focusing on the Breton Pontcallec Conspiracy, brought Tavernier his first two Césars for Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) and Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation), the latter of which he shared with Jean Aurenche, and an additional nomination for Best Film (Meilleur film). The film also won the Critics Award for Best Film at the 1976 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.

In 1976, Tavernier directed and co-wrote (again with Jean Aurenche) the French comedy/drama film “The Judge and the Assassin,” starring Philippe Noiret, Michel Galabru and Isabelle Huppert. He picked up a César for Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation) and also two nominations for Best Film and Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) at the same gala. In the following year, he directed and co-wrote the drama film “Spoiled Children” (“Des enfants gâtés”), starring Michel Piccoli. Also in 1977, he made his producing debut with the award winning drama “La question,” directed by Laurent Heynemann.

Tavernier returned to the director's chair when he helmed Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton in the science fiction flick “Death Watch” (“La mort en direct,” 1980), which was based on the novel “The Unsleeping Eye” by David G. Compton. The film was entered into the 30th Berlin International Film Festival in 1980, where it earned a Golden Berlin Bear nomination. It also brought Tavernier a César nomination for Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation), which he shared with David Rayfiel. The same year, he also directed, co-wrote and produced the drama “A Week's Vacation” (“Une semaine de vacances”), starring Nathalie Baye. He picked up a 1980 Palme d'Or nomination for the film.

Tavernier reunited with Jean Aurenche for the screen adaptation of “Coup de Torchon” (1981), which was based on Jim Thompson's 1964 novel “Pop. 1280.” Starring Philippe Noiret and Isabelle Huppert, the film collected 10 César nominations, including Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) and Best Film (Meilleur film) and Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation) for Tavernier, and won the Critics Award at the 1982 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics. It went on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (France) in 1983. After co- directing and co-writing the documentary film “Mississippi Blues” (1983), with Robert Parrish, and co-wrote “The Trail” (1983), with director Bernard Favre, Tavernier directed, co-wrote (with wife Colo) and produced the film “A Sunday in the Country” (“Un dimanche à la campagne”), starring Louis Ducreux. The film earned him a BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film (shared with Alain Sarde), a César for Best Writing - Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, adaptation (also was nominated for Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) and Best Film (Meilleur film)), a Cannes Film Festival for Best Director (also nominated for Palme d'Or), a Boston Society of Film Critics for Best Director and a Mainichi Film Concours for Best Foreign Language Film.

In 1986, Tavernier directed and co-wrote (with David Rayfiel) “'Round Midnight,” the story of an African American tenor saxophone player in Paris in the 1950s who is befriended by an unsuccessful French graphic designer who idolizes the musician and who attempts urgently to help him to flight alcohol abuse. The film won an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score (Herbie Hancock) and was nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Award (Dexter Gordon). Tavernier himself took a Bodil for Best European Film, a Silver Ribbon for Best Director - Foreign Film, and Pasinetti Award for Best Film at the 1986 Venice Film Festival for his work. The remaining of the decade saw him direct “Beatrice” (1987) and “Lyon, Inside Out” (TV documentary; 1988) and write “ Les mois d'avril sont meurtriers” (1987). He also helmed and co-wrote (with Jean Cosmos) the drama/war film “Life and Nothing But” (1989), starring Philippe Noiret, Sabine Azéma and Pascale Vignal. The film won him a BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) for Best Foreign Film, European Film's Special Prize of the Jury, and Tokyo International Film Festival's Best Artistic Contribution Award. He also received César nominations for Best Film, Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur) and Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation), a David nomination for Best Foreign Film, and a Tokyo Grand Prix for the film.

Early 1990s found Tavernier directing such films as “Daddy Nostalgia” (1990), “La guerre sans nom” (documentary, 1992), from which he netted a Bergamo Film Meeting for Special Mention, “L.627” (1992, also wrote) and “ La fille de d'Artagnan” (1994) as well as writing the documentary “Der grüne Berg” (1991). Tavenier reunited with his wife for the screenplay of “Fresh Bait” (“L'Appât”, 1995), about two boys and a girl who commit a murder, with the girl acting as a 'bait', which he also directed. Starring Marie Gillain, Olivier Sitruk and Bruno Putzulu, the film won a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1995. In 1996, he directed Philippe Torreton, Samuel Le Bihan and Bernard Le Coq in “Captain Conan,” an adaptation of the 1934 Prix Goncourt winning novel “Captain Conan (Fr. Capitaine Conan)” by Roger Vercel. He won a César for Best Director (also nominations for Best Film and Best Writing - Original or Adaptation) , the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award and People's Choice Award for Feature Film at the 1997 Denver International Film Festival, French Syndicate of Cinema Critics' Critics Award and the FIPRESCI Prize and Solidarity Award at the 1996 San Sebastián International Film Festival (also a Golden Seashell nomination) for the film.

After directing TV documentary “ The Other Side of the Tracks” (1997), Tavernier returned to the big screen with by directing and co-writing (with daughter Tiffany and Dominique Sampiero) “It All Starts Today” (1999), a drama film starring Philippe Torreton, Maria Pitarresi and Nadia Kaci. For his work, Tavernier was handed the FIPRESCI Prize, Honorable Mention and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival, Audience Award at the 1999 San Sebastián International Film Festival, Ecumenical Film Award at the 1999 Norwegian International Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Foreign Film and Turia Award for Best Foreign Film at the 2000 Turia Awards, and a 2000 Fotogramas de Plata for Best Foreign Film.

In the new millennium, Tavernier directed the TV film “ Les enfants de Thiès” (2001) and the documentary “Histoires de vies brisées: les 'double peine' de Lyon” (2001) and wrote “ My Father Saved My Life” (2001). He directed and wrote the historical drama “Safe Conduct” (2002), about the French film industry from 1942 to 1944 during the Nazi occupation, starring Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydès and Charlotte Kady. The film brought him Jury Award for Best Director, the Best Film, and Best Screenplay Awards from the 2002 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. He reunited with his daughter for the screenplay of his next film, “Holy Lola” (2004), an emotional roller coaster of the trials and tribulations of a French couple's attempts to adopt an orphan baby in Cambodia, starring Jacques Gamblin and Isabelle Carré. He won Audience Award at the 2005 San Sebastián International Film Festival for the film. Tavernier next directed the Franco/American drama/mystical film “In the Electric Mist” (2009), starring Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Kelly Macdonald and Mary Steenburgen, and wrote and directed the period movie “The Princess of Montpensier” (2010), starring Mélanie Thierry, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet and Lambert Wilson.


Awards:

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Holy Lola,” 2005

  • Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Jury Award, Best Director, “Safe Conduct,” 2002

  • Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Best Film,“Safe Conduct,” 2002

  • Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “Safe Conduct,” 2002

  • Istanbul International Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001

  • Fotogramas de Plata : Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “It All Starts Today,” 2000

  • Sant Jordi : Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “It All Starts Today,” 2000

  • Turia : Audience Award, Best Foreign Film, “It All Starts Today,” 2000

  • Turia: Turia Award, Best Foreign Film, “It All Starts Today,” 2000

  • Berlin International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, Competition, “It All Starts Today,” 1999

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Honorable Mention, “It All Starts Today,” 1999

  • Berlin International Film Festival:Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Competition, “It All Starts Today,” 1999

  • Norwegian International Film Festival: Ecumenical Film Award, “It All Starts Today,” 1999

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Audience Award, “It All Starts Today,” 1999

  • Brussels International Film Festival: Crystal Iris, 1998

  • César: Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur), “Captain Conan,” 1997

  • Denver International Film Festival: Krzysztof Kieslowski Award, “Captain Conan,” 1997

  • Denver International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, Feature Film, “Captain Conan,” 1997

  • French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Critics Award Best Film, “Captain Conan,” 1997

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, “Captain Conan,” 1996

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Berlin Bear, “Fresh Bait,” 1995

  • Bergamo Film Meeting: Special Mention, “La guerre sans nom,” 1992

  • BAFTA: Best Film not in the English Language, “Life and Nothing But,” 1990

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Foreign Film, “Life and Nothing But,” 1990

  • European Film: Special Prize of the Jury, “Life and Nothing But,” 1989

  • Tokyo International Film Festival: Best Artistic Contribution Award, “Life and Nothing But,” 1989

  • Bodil : Best European Film (Bedste europæiske film), “'Round Midnight,” 1988

  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Director - Foreign Film (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero), “'Round Midnight,” 1987

  • Venice Film Festival: Pasinetti Award, Best Film, “'Round Midnight,” 1986

  • Mainichi Film Concours: Best Foreign Language Film, “A Sunday in the Country,” 1986

  • Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): Best Director, “ A Sunday in the Country,” 1985

  • César: Best Writing - Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, adaptation), “A Sunday in the Country,” 1985

  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Director, “A Sunday in the Country,” 1984

  • French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Critics Award Best Film, “Coup de Torchon,” 1982

  • César: Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation), “The Judge and the Assassin,” 1977

  • César: Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur), “Let Joy Reign Supreme,” 1976

  • César: Best Writing - Original or Adaptation (Meilleur scénario, original ou adaptation), “Let Joy Reign Supreme,” 1976

  • French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Critics Award Best Film, “Let Joy Reign Supreme,” 1976

  • Berlin International Film Festival: OCIC Award, Competition, “The Clockmaker of St. Paul,” 1974

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Special Jury Prize, “The Clockmaker of St. Paul,” 1974

  • Prix Louis Delluc: “The Clockmaker of St. Paul,” 1973

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