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Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan in Stepanakert.jpg
Egoyan in 2017
Atom Yeghoyan

(1960-07-19) July 19, 1960 (age 61)
Cairo, United Arab Republic
(present-day Cairo, Egypt)
Alma materTrinity College, Toronto
OccupationFilm director, stage director,
screenwriter, producer
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Arsinée Khanjian

Atom Egoyan CC (/ɛˈɡɔɪən/;[1] Armenian: Աթոմ Եղոյեան, romanizedAtom Yeghoyan; born July 19, 1960)[2] is an Armenian-Canadian[3] film and stage director, screenwriter, and producer.[4][5] He was part of a loosely-affiliated group of filmmakers to emerge in the 1980s from Toronto known as the Toronto New Wave. Egoyan made his career breakthrough with Exotica (1994), a film set primarily in and around the fictional Exotica strip club.[6] Egoyan's most critically acclaimed film is the drama The Sweet Hereafter (1997), for which he received two Academy Award nominations,[7] and his biggest commercial success is the erotic thriller Chloe (2009). Egoyan is widely considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation. [8][9]

His work often explores themes of alienation and isolation, featuring characters whose interactions are mediated through technology, bureaucracy, or other power structures. Egoyan's films often follow non-linear plot structures, in which events are placed out of sequence in order to elicit specific emotional reactions from the audience by withholding key information.[4]

In 2008, Egoyan received the Dan David Prize for "Creative Rendering of the Past."[10] Egoyan later received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, Canada's highest royal honour in the performing arts, in 2015.[11]

Early life and education

Egoyan was born Atom Yeghoyan (Western Armenian: Աթոմ Եղոյեան) in Cairo, Egypt, the son of Shushan (née Devletian) and Joseph Yeghoyan, artists who operated a furniture store.[12] His parents were Armenian-Egyptians, and he was named Atom to mark the completion of Egypt's first nuclear reactor.[13][14] In 1962, the family moved to Canada, where they settled in Victoria, British Columbia and changed their last name to Egoyan. Atom grew up in British Columbia with his sister, Eve, now a concert pianist based in Toronto.[15]

As a teenager, he became interested in reading and writing plays. Significant influences included Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Egoyan also attributes his future in the film industry to Ingmar Bergman's film Persona, which he viewed at age fourteen, according to an interview he had with journalist Robert K. Elder for The Film That Changed My Life:

It gave me an incredible respect for the medium and its possibilities. To me, Persona marries a pure form and a very profound vision with absolute conviction. It's very inspiring. I felt that it was able to open a door that wasn't there before.[16]

He graduated from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. It was at Trinity College that Egoyan came into contact with Harold Nahabedian, the Armenian-Canadian Anglican Chaplain of Trinity College. In interviews Egoyan credited Nahabedian for introducing him to the language and history of his ethnic heritage. Egoyan also wrote for the University of Toronto's independent weekly, The Newspaper, during his time at the school.


Egoyan began making films in the early 1980s; his debut film Next of Kin (1984) world-premiered at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg and won a major prize. He directed the Twilight Zone episode 'The Wall' which was first released in 1985. His commercial breakthrough came with the film Exotica (1994). He received the Grand Prix (Belgian Film Critics Association) in Brussels, the FIPRESCI Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and Best Motion Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards (then called the Genie Awards). However, it was Egoyan's first attempt at adapted material that resulted in his best-known work, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), which earned him three prizes at the 50th Cannes Film Festival—the Grand Prix, the FIPRESCI Jury Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The film also earned Egoyan Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Film critic Roger Ebert gave The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica his highest great calling Egoyan “One of Canada's best and most respected directors”. [17]

The film Ararat (2002) generated much publicity for Egoyan. After Henri Verneuil's French-language film Mayrig (1991), it was the first major motion picture to deal directly with the Armenian genocide. Ararat later won the award for Best Motion Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards, marking his third win.[18] The film was released in over 30 countries around the world. In 2004, Egoyan opened Camera Bar, a 50-seat cinema-lounge on Queen Street West in Toronto.[19]

Beginning in September 2006, Egoyan taught at the University of Toronto for three years.[20] He joined the Faculty of Arts and Science as the Dean's Distinguished Visitor in theatre, film, music, and visual studies. He subsequently taught at Ryerson University.[21] In 2006, he received the Master of Cinema Award of the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg.

In 2009, he directed the erotic thriller Chloe, which was theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics on March 26, 2010. This film grossed $3 million in box office sales in the United States and became one of the higher-grossing specialty films of the year in the United States.[22] Several months after the DVD/Blu-ray release of Chloe, Egoyan said that Chloe had made more money than any of his previous films.[8][9] The success of Chloe led Egoyan to receive many scripts of erotic thrillers.[23]

In 2012, he directed a production of Martin Crimp's Cruel and Tender, starring Khanjian, at Canadian Stage in Toronto.[24]

After the release of the West Memphis Three from 18 years in prison, Egoyan directed a movie about the case called Devil's Knot (2013) starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, based on a book, Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt. His next feature, The Captive (2014), starred Ryan Reynolds and screened in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[25] where it received largely negative reviews from critics.[26] Justin Chang from Variety described the film as "a ludicrous abduction thriller that finds a once-great filmmaker slipping into previously un-entered realms of self-parody."[27]

In 2015, Egoyan directed the thriller Remember, which starred Christopher Plummer and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, before being given a limited release in theatres.[28] His latest film is the drama Guest of Honour, was nominated for a Golden Lion in competition in Venice in 2019, had a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, and opening night galas in Vancouver and Montreal.

Personal life

Egoyan is based in Toronto, where he lives with his wife Arsinée Khanjian, a trilingual (English, French and Armenian) Armenian-Canadian actress who appears in many of Egoyan's films, and their son, Arshile (named after the Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky).

In 1999, Egoyan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, it was later upgraded to Companion of the order in 2015, the highest level of the honour. In 2009, he won the ‘Master of Cinema’ award from the Mannheim Film Festival, 25 years after receiving his international festival premiere at the same event. Egoyan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Film Festival of India in 2017.[29]


Feature films

Year Film Notes
1984 Next of Kin Won prizes at International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg. Nominated for Best Direction Genie Award. First met Arsinée Khanjian
1987 Family Viewing Won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Locarno International Film Festival (1988)
1989 Speaking Parts Best Motion Picture nomination, including five others, at the 1989 Genie Awards
1991 The Adjuster Won the Special Silver St. George at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival,[30] Best Canadian Film and Best Ontario Picture at Cinefest Sudbury (1991)
1993 Calendar Won the Special Jury Prize at Taormina International Film Festival (1993)
1994 Exotica Won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes.[31]
1997 The Sweet Hereafter Won Grand Prize of the Jury, FIPRESCI Jury and Ecumenical Jury Prizes at Cannes.[32]
1999 Felicia's Journey Won the Best Adapted Screenplay at Genie Awards (2000)
2002 Ararat Won Best Motion Picture at the 2003 Genie Awards; also won Genies for costume design and original score; in addition, Arsinée Khanjian won the best actress award and Elias Koteas best supporting actor at the 2003 Genie Awards. Also won the Writers Guild of Canada award in 2003.
2005 Where the Truth Lies Won the Best Adapted Screenplay at Genie Awards (2006)
2008 Adoration Won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes Film Festival (2008), Best Canadian Feature Film – Special Jury Citation at Toronto International Film Festival (2008).
2009 Chloe Nominated for the DGC Craft Award at the Directors Guild of Canada (2010)
2013 Devil's Knot Nominated for the Best Film Golden Seashell Award at San Sebastian International Film Festival (2013)
2014 The Captive Palme d'Or nomination at Cannes Film Festival (2014)
2015 Remember Won the Vittorio Veneto Film Festival Award – Venice Film Festival (2015)
2019 Guest of Honour Nominated for the Golden Lion (Leone d’Oro) at the Venice Film Festival, opening nights at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Festival du nouveau cinéma

TV films

Short films

  • Howard in Particular (1979)
  • After Grad with Dad (1980)
  • Peep Show (1981)
  • Open House (1982)
  • Men: A Passion Playground (1985)
  • Looking for Nothing (1988)
  • Montreal Stories (Montréal vu par...) (1991)
    • segment: En passant (In Passing)
  • A Portrait of Arshile (1995)
  • The Line (2000)
  • Diaspora (2001)
  • Chacun son cinéma / To Each His Own Cinema (2007)
    • segment: Artaud Double Bill
  • Venezia 70 Future Reload (2013)
    • segment: Butterfly
  • Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (2014)
    • segment: L'Apparition (d'après René Magritte)

Documentary films

  • Citadel (2003)



  1. ^ "Say How: E". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "Famous birthdays for July 19: Brian May, Anthony Edwardsl". United Press International. July 19, 2019. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019. Filmmaker Atom Egoyan in 1960 (age 59)
  3. ^ "PM Pashinyan hands Armenian passports to Arsinée Khanjian and Atom Egoyan". Armenpress. 7 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Atom Egoyan Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and video lectures)". European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  5. ^ Nestruck, J. Kelly (February 23, 2011). "Canstage lures Atom Egoyan back to the stage - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  6. ^ "Atom Egoyan - The Interview". Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  7. ^ Clarke, Cath (January 21, 2010). "The double life of Atom Egoyan". The Guardian. London.
  8. ^ a b Pevere, Geoff (December 7, 2010). "The Digital Revolution: Part 1". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Atom Egoyan : "Ryan Reynolds m'a semblé une évidence"". MYTF1News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Dan David Prize Official site, Atom Egoyan Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Atom Egoyan - biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Atom Egoyan Biography (1960-)". Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  13. ^ Charles Rawlings-Way, Natalie Karneef (2007). Toronto (3rd ed.). Footscray, Vic., Australia: Lonely Planet. p. 28. ISBN 9781740598354.
  14. ^ "ATOM EGOYAN - BIOGRAPHY". European Graduate School. Retrieved 25 August 2013. Atom Egoyan's name was a symbolic choice by his parents, named after the new nuclear reactor in Egypt.
  15. ^ Interview with Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio One's programme Ideas on February 9, 2010. cf. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  16. ^ Egoyan, Atom. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p179. Print.
  17. ^ "Awards IMdB". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  18. ^ "Awards IMdB". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  19. ^ "Egoyan's Camera fades to black". 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  20. ^ Teaching gig just another way to be creative, Egoyan says, August 17, 2006, CBC Arts
  21. ^ "Atom Egoyan biography". Ryerson University Faculty of Communication and Design. Ryerson University. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  22. ^ "Chloe (2010) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  23. ^ "Atom Egoyan sifts through sex thriller scripts in wake of 'Chloe'". 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  24. ^ "Filmmaker Atom Egoyan loving his return to directing live theatre". Toronto Star, January 25, 2012.
  25. ^ Vlessing, Etan. "Cannes: Atom Egoyan on Why 'The Captive' Will 'Redefine' Ryan Reynolds". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  26. ^ "The Captive (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  27. ^ Chang, Justin (May 16, 2014). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Captive'". Variety.
  28. ^ "Remember - Gala Presentations". Toronto International Film Festival. Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  29. ^ "Order of Canada Appointments". The Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  30. ^ "17th Moscow International Film Festival (1991)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  31. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Exotica". Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  32. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Sweet Hereafter". Archived from the original on 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2009-09-23.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 September 2021, at 19:02
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