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Atom Egoyan. Citatel. Memories of Beirut. 2007 1/4





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Published on Jul 6, 2007 Filmmaker Atom Egoyan discussing the screening of Citadel, a documentary filmed on a camcorder in Beirut, Lebanon. It traces the deeply personal return of actor Arsinee Khanjian to Lebanon after a 28-year absence. Atom Egoyan at a public open lecture for the students of the European Graduate School EGS, Media and Communication Studies department program, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Europe, 2007
Atom Egoyan, (born July 19, 1960) is a critically acclaimed Canadian-Armenian film maker. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he and his sister Eve Egoyan (who is now a concert pianist based in Toronto) were raised by their Armenian parents in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. During his teen years, he nurtured his interest in writing and reading plays, finding particular inspiration in the works of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. It was also during his adolescence that Egoyan found unlikely inspiration for his future films by working as a hotel employee. He would later remark that preparing a hotel room and making a movie were similar in their creation of an illusion (an idea that would manifest itself most overtly in his 1989 film Speaking Parts, which takes place largely in a hotel).
Atom Egoyan graduated from Trinity College in the University of Toronto, where he came into contact with Harold Nahabedian, a Canadian also of Armenian descent who was then the Anglican Chaplain of Trinity College. In interviews Egoyan credited Nahabedian for introducing him to the language and history of his ethnic heritage. Following his graduation, Egoyan joined Toronto's Tarragon Theatre as a playwright. In 1984, he acted as editor, producer, screenwriter, and director for Next of Kin, a film concerning issues of identity and Armenian heritage. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council, it was his first feature-length film. Exotica (1994), an exploration of the interweaving lives of the various denizens of a strip club was first shown at the 1994 Cannes Festival, where it won the International Critics' Prize. Egoyan finally attained widespread international recognition and acclaim three years later, with the release of The Sweet Hereafter. A sobering adaptation of Russell Banks' novel of the same name, the film was honored with the 1997 Special Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and Egoyan himself received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Egoyan is based in Toronto, where he lives with his wife, Arsinée Khanjian, an actress who appears in many of Egoyan's films, and their son, Arshile. In 1999, Egoyan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Atom has directed three different opera productions. In 2004, Egoyan opened Camera Bar, a 50-seat cinema-lounge on Queen Street West in Toronto. Canadian actors such as Sarah Polley, Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, and Don McKellar are frequent collaborators, as are cinematographer Paul Sarossy, composer Mychael Danna, and producer Camelia Frieberg.
Atom Egoyan is the author of Atom Egoyan (1994) in collaboration with Paul Virilio and Patrick de Haas, The Event Horizon (1998) with Michael Tarantino, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Declan McGonagle, Inside the Pleasure Dome: Fringe Film in Canada (2001) with Mike Hoolboom, Weird Sex and Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena (2002) with Katherine Monk, Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film (Alphabet City) (2004) with Ian Balfour and Ararat: The Shooting Script (Newmarket Shooting Script Series) (2002) with Timothy Taylor.
Atom Egoyan's films include Howard in Particular (1979), After Grad with Dad (1980), Peep Show (1981), Open House (1982), Next of Kin (1984), Men: A Passion Playground (1985), Family Viewing (1987), Looking for Nothing (1988), Speaking Parts (1989), The Adjuster (1991), Montréal vu par... / Montreal Sextet (1991), Calendar (1993), Exotica (1994), A Portrait of Arshile (1995), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Felicia's Journey (1999), The Line (2000), Diaspora (2001), Ararat (2002), Citadel (2003), Where the Truth Lies (2005), Chacun son cinéma / To Each His Cinema (2007) and Adoration (2008).


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