Atom Egoyan biography
Date of Birth: July 19, 1960
Atom Egoyan was born to Armenian refugees in Cairo, Egypt, but the family moved to Victoria, British Columbia when he was three years old. After high school, he moved east to attend the University of Toronto. Although he was studying to become a diplomat, Egoyan made a short film while a freshman, receiving financial backing from the Hart House Film Board. The experience instilled in him a love of filmmaking, and he spent the rest of his time at university making more films, including Open House (1982), which was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
Graduating in 1982 with a degree in International Relations, Egoyan had a major breakthrough when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation decided to broadcast Open House, gaining the young filmmaker nationwide recognition. His first feature-length film was Next of Kin (1984), which he wrote, edited, produced and directed, with funding from both the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council. In 1985, he turned to directing episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, followed by an episode of Friday the 13th in 1987. However, it wasn't until 1989, when his film Speaking Parts was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, that he gained international recognition. Five years later, he returned to the Cannes Film Festival with Exotica (1994), starring Bruce Greenwood. The film won the International Critics' Prize.
His next feature-length film, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), starring Ian Holm, was shown in theaters around the world and became his biggest financial and critical success to date. The film won the 1997 Special Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and Egoyan received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. His next feature, Felicia's Journey (1999), wasn't nearly as successful and although it was nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes, it didn’t win. However, his film Ararat (2002), won several awards, including a Genie for Best Motion Picture and a Writers Guild of Canada Award.
His wife, Arsinée Khanjian, has appeared in almost all of his movies, while their son, Arshile, has appeared with both his mother and father in Egoyan's four minute short, A Portrait of Arshile (1995).
Egoyan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999.