Vadim Perelman
Birth Place:
Kiev, Ukraine
Famous for:
NBR Award win for 'House of Sand and Fog' (2003)
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House of Sand and Fog


An American film director of Ukrainian origin, Vadim Perelman garnered international acclaim for writing the screenplay and directing a film adaptation of Andre Dubus III's 1999 novel, “House of Sand and Fog” (2003; starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, and Shohreh Aghdashloo), which was nominated for three Academy Awards. He followed it up with his second feature, "The Life Before Her Eyes" (2008), and reportedly will direct the upcoming film adaptations of "The Giver" and "Atlas Shrugged," as well as MGM's remake of the 1982 original horror/thriller, "Poltergeist."

Ukrainian Origin

Childhood and Family:

Born in Kiev, the capital of then-Soviet occupied Ukraine in 1963, Vadim Perelman, who was an only child, grew up with his immediate and extended family in a communal flat. At age 7, both grandparents died, and at 9, his father was tragically killed in a car accident. Vadim left Kiev for Western Europe at age 14 and lived in Vienna for two months. He then spent a year in Rome.

Perelman later left Europe with his mother and moved to Canada. After earning his high school equivalency, Perelman, who learned English when he was 16, went to the University of Alberta where he majored in physics and math. He later became interested in film making and studied the craft at Ryerson University's prestigious School of Image Arts in Toronto, Canada, but dropped in his second year.

The Life Before Her Eyes


After dropping out of Ryerson University's prestigious School of Image Arts, Vadim Perelman launched his own Toronto-based production house called Canned Films and began directing and editing music videos. He then decided to test the waters in Los Angeles where he established himself as an innovative and sought-after director of television commercials and music videos. He has worked for such multi-national clients as Microsoft, General Motors, Panasonic, Nike, Airwalk, AT&T, Sony Playstation, Coors and Mastercard. During this time, he was repeatedly approached by Hollywood to direct mainstream, high-profile films, but was very selective about his projects.

“I don’t want to spend a year of my life working on a film that does not resonate with me on a poetic level. Since great scripts are a rare commodity, I realized that I have to create my own opportunities and not wait for the right project to come along, for fate to smile upon me.” Vadim Perelman

An avid reader since the age of 4, Perelman discovered Andre Dubus III's 1999 novel, “House of Sand and Fog,” before it was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 2000 and was a finalist for the National Book Award. After calling his agent to check on the rights, Perelman adapted and directed the novel's film version, which also marked Perelman's feature directional debut.

"I'm at heart a big sloppy Russian romantic. I went home a few years ago for the first time, went back to where we used to live, ten people in one room about the size of this hotel room. No television, no movies, at least not for me, I wasn't interested in them. The only broadcast media exposure I got, I remember, is that we all went to some hall one night to watch some figure skating event in the Olympics. But I read. I read a lot as a kid, everything I could get a hand on, but I went back home. I found my old landlady and we just sat and cried, remembering how hard things had been. In the airport on the way home, I found Dubus' book and felt as though I'd come full circle in my life somehow." Vadim Perelman

Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, the film that follows the battle between a young woman and an immigrant Iranian family over ownership of a house, was released by Dreamworks in 2003 to critical acclaim. It won Perelman a National Board of Review Award for Best Debut Director. He also received nominations at Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Most Promising Filmmaker, the Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature, and the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Screenplay, Adapted and for Breakout Performance - Behind the Camera. The film also received three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Kingsley), Best Supporting Actress (Aghdashloo), and Best Original Score.

"I have to say that I identify almost more with the Jennifer Connelly character, Kathy. That was me when I first got to Canada, you know, that was me, divorced from my own family, a stepfather that cast me out and the feeling that my mother had betrayed me. The immigrant connection is there but sort of shallow. The deeper connection is between Kathy and me. I feel as though both of us had a lot of tragedy and that through it I was able to gain a keener understanding of life and the human condition. That sounds pretentious. Maybe it's better to say that I hope that it gave me that insight." Vadim Perelman

In 2005, Perelman directed Kelly Clarkson’s music video "Because of You," which won Best Female Video 2006 at the VMA Awards. He then directed his second feature, the independently financed thriller "The Life Before Her Eyes," which was adapted by Emil Stern from the Laura Kasischke novel of the same name. Unlike his debut work, the film that was distributed by Magnolia Pictures on April 18, 2008, received generally negative reviews from critics.

It is rumored that Perelman will be directing and writing the screenplay for a movie adaption of the novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. He is also reported to be directing a movie of the Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged,” which will star Angelina Jolie. He is now in negotiations to direct MGM's remake of the 1982 original thriller "Poltergeist."


  • National Board of Review: Best Debut Director, "House of Sand and Fog," 2003

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