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What Ever Happened To These 5 Foreign-Language Filmmakers?

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist June 18, 2012 at 2:54PM

Generally you can find plenty of information about your favorite stateside filmmaker, and depending on who they are (see: David Gordon Green), you can find a long list of potential upcoming projects to investigate. But being head-over-heels for a foreign director is a different story -- without the Hollywood system or independent film cliques to generate word of mouth or gossip, you can spend years without hearing a peep from even the biggest festival sweethearts, and only last week were were discussing around the Playlist water cooler where some of our favorite international filmmakers had gone in the last few years.

Arnaud Desplechin
Arnaud Desplechin
Who: French filmmaker who frequently employs big French fish notables: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Chiara Mastroianni, and László Szabó among others.
Years Away From The Game: "A Christmas Tale" hit Cannes in 2008 as a contender for the Palme d'Or while also cropping up on many, many year-end lists.
What Happened: Desplechin has been dealing them out consistently for awhile -- "Playing 'In the Company of Men'" was in 2003, with "Kings and Queens" following a short year afterwards, and both "L'Aimée" and "A Christmas Tale" similarly cropped up soon afterwards. "Jimmy Picard" was announced some time back in 2010, so while it was always cooking, it seems that it either needed a bit more time on the burner or the filmmaker was hoping for a top name to carry the project -- something he got in Del Toro, for sure.
What To Watch: If you haven't seen "A Christmas Tale" yet, (1) we're surprised and (2) go do it. Family as a subject can be painfully trite nowadays, but 'Tale' is both amusing and affecting with terrific performances from its entire cast. "Kings and Queen" is also a solid effort, also featuring an unbeatable Amalric and Emmanuelle Devos.

Kanji Nakajima
Kanji Nakajima
Who: Japanese filmmaker that struck Sundance with "The Clone Returns Home," a sci-fi tale in vein of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Solaris" and "Mirror."
Years Away From The Game: 'Clone' was in 2008, so we've had a four year period of silence.
What Happened: It's hard to say, really, because there isn't much information out there on either the filmmaker or 'Clone' aside from reviews. Quiet, slow-paced cinema can bud passionate champions, though they generally are few in number and that's to say nothing about the science fiction conceit which also unfortunately limits its audience (one look at the glossy, generic Japanese DVD cover will probably hint at how much hope they had for it). All that aside, Nakajima has been working since 1994 and has amassed a scant three pictures, the latter two dealing with fantasy elements that likely cost a pretty penny, so it's safe to assume that while he probably takes his time with his screenplays, it's difficult to fund his meditative work. He was able to find an executive producer in Wim Wenders for his last effort, so a new project isn't out of the cards if he's able to build that kind of relationship again.
What To Watch: If you can find his first two flicks (“Fe” and “The Box”), have at it, but we'd really recommend 'Clone.' Aside from the Tarkovsky lauds, it's a philosophically-rich, highly moving film for those who froth at the mouth for brilliantly composed long takes. Sure, we're few, but we're definitely out there.

This article is related to: Arnaud Desplechin, Features, Lucretia Martel, Kanji Nakajima, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Denys Arcand