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Jean-Luc Godard (1930)

He was born into a wealthy Swiss family in France in 1930. His parents sent him to live in Switzerland when the war broke out, but in the late 1940s he returned to Paris to study ethnology at the Sorbonne. He became acquainted with Claude Chabrol, Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, forming part of a group of passionate young film-makers devoted to exploring new possibilities in cinema.
They were the leading lights of Cahiers du Cinéma, where they published their radical views on film. Godard's obsession with cinema beyond all else led to alienation from his family who cut off his allowance. He was desperate to put his theories into practice so he took a job working on Swiss dam and used it as an opportunity to film a documentary on the project.
By the early 1960s Jean-Luc Godard was probably the most discussed director in the world. He made a an enormous impact on the future direction of cinema, influencing film-makers as diverse as Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Wim Wenders, Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai.
As the 1960s progressed, Godard became less and less accessible, both in his personal life and his work. After making Week-end (1967) Godard abandoned his increasingly antagonistic relationships with film industry colleagues.
He left Paris for Switzerland, which has been his home for the last 20 years. Fascinated with developments in new media, he has experimented with video, making several on commission for clients including Channel 4, France Telecom and UNICEF.
His latest film is "Eloge de l'amour" (In Praise of Love). The film has just received its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2001 to great acclaim. It is expected to have a British release later this year.
Godard's reputation for being a bitter and reclusive figure clearly does not go unnoticed, but is not observed without humour.

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