Atom Egoyan was raised in Victoria, BC, moving to Toronto at age 18 to study International Relations and classical guitar at the University of Toronto. It was there that he began to seriously explore the art and language of the cinema, and started making his own films which progressed to reflect his own, very personal thematic obsessions, delving into issues of intimacy, displacement and the impact of technology and media in modern life.
His debut feature, NEXT TO KIN (1984) earned Egoyan a Genie nomination (Canadian Academy Award) for Best Director, and went on to win Germany's Mannheim International Film Week Gold Ducat Award, receiving theatrical distribution around the world.
FAMILY VIEWING (1987) won the Locarno International Critics Prize, and was nominated for eight Genie Awards including Best Film. The film gained wide notoriety when Wim Wenders declined the jury prize at the Montreal Film Festival for his own film WINGS OF DESIRE, and handed it over to Egoyan, his 'Canadian colleague.' Next came SPEAKING PARTS (1989), which marked his first Cannes premiere (Quinzaine des Realisateurs), and earned even more international acclaim and Genie Award nods.
THE ADJUSTER (1991) premiered at Cannes in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs, and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. It went on to capture the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
CALENDAR, (1993) shot in Armenia, earned the C.I.C.A.E. prize for Best Film in the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival, and once again landed Egoyan Genie nominations for Best Direction and Screenplay.
Egoyan achieved a wider audience with the darkly mysterious EXOTICA (1994). The first English Canadian film to be invited into Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in nearly a decade, EXOTICA was awarded International Critics Prize for Best Film. Honored by festival and critical associations around the world, EXOICA received major worldwide release, including a 500-screen US release. In Canada, EXOTICA played theatrically for over half a year. The film swept the Genies, earning eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997) had its world premiere in Official Selection in Competition at the 50th Cannes Film Festival where it became the most-honored film of the Festival, winning The Grand Prize of the Jury as well as the International Critics Prize and the Ecumenical Award for Humanist filmmaking. The movie then opened the Toronto International Film Festival where it was doubly honored with both the International Critics Award and the Toronto/CITY Award for Best Canadian Film. THE SWEET HEREAFTER provided Egoyan a second sweep of the Genies by winning eight major awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sold to virtually every possible worldwide market, THE SWEET HEREAFTER was the subject of unprecedented critical response, named to more than 250 major top-ten lists for 1997. THE SWEET HEREAFTER held the top position on more than two-dozen of those lists, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. Egoyan received Academy Award nominations for his Directing and for his Adapted Screenplay. This made him the first Canadian to be so honored for work in a Canadian Film.
His next two films were Irish in origin. In 1999, Egoyan directed FELICIA'S JOURNEY in Ireland and England. Based on the novel by William Trevor, starring Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy and Arsinée Khanjian, it premiered in competition at Cannes, before opening the Toronto Film Festival and holding the prestigious closing night spot at the New York Film Festival. Produced by Icon Entertainment, this film earned another four Genie Awards. KRAPP'S LAST TAPE is an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's stage-play, starring John Hurt. This has been seen internationally since premiering in 2000 at the Venice Film Festival.
ARARAT Egoyan's most recent feature, was distributed in over thirty countries, after its premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2002. It has won numerous awards, including Best Film at the 24th Durban Film Festival in South Africa, Best Film on Human Rights by the Political Film Society of Hollywood, the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review in New York, and the Genie award for Best Film from the Canadian Academy of Film and Television.
His other works include many short films and original programs for television as well as a number of art installations presented internationally (including the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, Venice Biennale, and, Le Fresnoy in France). Exploring his long-standing interest in classical music, Egoyan made his debut as an opera director in 1996, with the Canadian Opera Company production of SALOME. This production was subsequently presented in Houston and Vancouver before being remounted by the COC for a sold-out run in 2002. His original opera, ELSEWHERELESS composed by Rodney Sharman, written and directed by Egoyan premiered in Toronto in 1998, and was remounted in Vancouver. Later that year he directed the world premiere of Gavin Bryars' DR. OX'S EXPERIMENT for English National Opera in London.
His art and theatre projects include the installation Steenbeckett, for London's Artangel's 10th anniversary, and Hors D'usage, for Montreal's Le Musée d'art contemporain, which opened in the Fall of 2002.
Egoyan's film works have been presented in numerous important retrospectives in major centers throughout the world. He has earned many exceptional honors in his career. There have been a number of books written about his work, and he co-edited a collection of essays, SUBTITLES on the foreignness of film, published by MIT press in 2004. Egoyan was President of the Jury at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival, and has served on juries in Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto. He was knighted by the French Government with the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, and has received the Anahid Literary Award from the Armenian Center at Columbia University, and was inducted into the Order of Canada. He has received honorary doctorates from universities across Canada.
Egoyan is currently working on the Canadian Opera Company's production of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, directing Die Walk0;re. The successful production will be remounted next summer.