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Marc Forster

Marc Forster

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: January 27, 1969 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Germany Profession: director, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Some filmmakers arrive at their chosen profession by a childhood or college life spent in the study of classic movies; for others, it takes only one film. Director Marc Forster was part of the latter camp; after seeing his first movie - Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" (1979) - he became fixated on the idea of becoming a director. After studying cinema at New York University in the early 1990s, he launched his career with the indie drama "Everything Put Together" (2000), which netted him the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. His follow-ups - 2001's "Monster's Ball" and 2004's "Finding Neverland" (2004) - established him as a director of powerful and emotionally complex dramas. But he struggled to maintain critical acclaim with subsequent efforts like "Stay" (2005), "Stranger than Fiction" (2006) and "The Kite Runner" (2007). In 2008, he made a complete about-face and tackled "Quantum of Solace," the second James Bond feature to star Daniel Craig as 007. Though it too garnered mixed reviews, Forster's choice of projects suggested that the versatility he showed in his early films might only be the tip of his talents as a director.Born Jan. 27, 1969 in the remote town of...

Some filmmakers arrive at their chosen profession by a childhood or college life spent in the study of classic movies; for others, it takes only one film. Director Marc Forster was part of the latter camp; after seeing his first movie - Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" (1979) - he became fixated on the idea of becoming a director. After studying cinema at New York University in the early 1990s, he launched his career with the indie drama "Everything Put Together" (2000), which netted him the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. His follow-ups - 2001's "Monster's Ball" and 2004's "Finding Neverland" (2004) - established him as a director of powerful and emotionally complex dramas. But he struggled to maintain critical acclaim with subsequent efforts like "Stay" (2005), "Stranger than Fiction" (2006) and "The Kite Runner" (2007). In 2008, he made a complete about-face and tackled "Quantum of Solace," the second James Bond feature to star Daniel Craig as 007. Though it too garnered mixed reviews, Forster's choice of projects suggested that the versatility he showed in his early films might only be the tip of his talents as a director.

Born Jan. 27, 1969 in the remote town of Illertissen, Neu-Ulm, in Bavaria, West Germany, he was the son of a German doctor and a Swiss architect. The family relocated from Germany to a remote town in Switzerland after incurring the wrath of the German terrorist organization, the Baader-Meinhoff Group. Forster did not even see his first film until the age of 12. That picture, "Apocalypse Now," left the preteen so bowled over by the experience that he decided to devote his life to filmmaking.

He left Switzerland at the age of 20 for New York City, where he studied film at New York University. There, he helmed several documentaries before embarking on his first feature in 1995. "Loungers" was a low-budget experimental effort that displayed his knack for balancing thoughtful drama with stylish visuals, earning him the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Slamdance Film Festival the following year. Armed with a well-received debut film, he toiled for the next four years to complete its follow-up, "Everything Put Together" (2000). A sober, mournful drama about a couple (Radha Mitchell and Justin Louis) who struggle to carry on with their lives after the loss of their baby, the moody atmospherics of its digital video photography and well-tuned performances won Forster considerable praise from the mainstream press. The picture also claimed the Grand Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival.

Forster's first effort for Hollywood came with "Monster's Ball" (2001), a grim drama about the unlikely romance between a racist prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) and the wife (Halle Berry) of a death row inmate. A complex and emotionally charged drama that had struggled to find a willing director for over five years, "Monster's Ball" was a critical triumph for both Forster and Berry, who won an Academy Award for her devastating performance. The film also served to further solidify Forster's reputation as one of the most accomplished directors of the new millennium.

Besieged by offers for his next project, Forster ultimately chose "Finding Neverland" (2004) as the follow-up to "Monster's Ball." At first blush, the film could not have differed more from its predecessor - a period piece about the author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his relationship with a woman (Kate Winslet) and her sons, the picture actually echoed "Monster's Ball" in its depiction of society's impact on a "forbidden" relationship between a married man and a widow. Forster again found the emotional heart at the center of the turmoil that swirled around his characters, and was richly rewarded by audiences and critics alike. Among its honors were Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, and a National Board of Review Award for Best Film.

While waiting for Miramax to release "Neverland" - Columbia Pictures, which owned the rights to Barrie's play "Peter Pan," initially refused to allow the company to depict scenes from the production in their film - Forster went to work on his next film, the psychological thriller "Stay" (2005). A highly stylized effort about a psychiatrist (Ewan McGregor) whose work with a new patient (Ryan Gosling) causes him to lose his grasp on reality, the film's references to Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958) and Shakespeare's "Hamlet" seemed to deter audiences, as did frequent release schedule re-shuffling. A dismal failure at the box office, "Stay" seemed to indicate a sea change in Forster's fortunes.

Both of his subsequent efforts, "Stranger than Fiction" and "The Kite Runner" were met with considerable anticipation - the former because of its top-notch cast led by Will Ferrell; the latter, an adaptation of the popular novel by Khaled Hosseini. However, neither was met with much of a response by moviegoers - "Fiction," about a nebbish businessman (Ferrell) who discovers that his life is apparently the latest work of an author (Emma Thompson), earned a modest, arthouse-sized take but failed to bring in Ferrell's sizable audience. "Runner," which concerned a boy from Afghanistan who struggles with guilt over the abandonment of his servant during the Soviet takeover, was met with the same fate as other pictures set in the Middle East that were released during the conflict in Iraq. However, it received a Best Foreign Language nomination from the Golden Globe Awards in 2008.

Forster seemed to be among the most unlikely of choices to helm a James Bond film, but he proved himself up to the task by directing "Quantum of Solace" (2008), the high-energy sequel to "Casino Royale" (2006), which marked the debut of Daniel Craig as Bond. Forster sought to further humanize the super agent by focusing on his emotional struggles - namely, his desire to avenge his beloved Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) - while maintaining a balance with the franchise's action sequences and glamorous locations. The result was a brooding Bond picture that saw the suave Double-0 spy turn cold-blooded killer in his pursuit of the terrorist organization that killed Lynd. Critics were sharply divided by the end result, with many citing the picture as heavy-handed and needlessly violent in many scenes. Audiences, however, turned out in droves, with "Quantum" breaking box office records for both the Bond series and national averages on the whole in its opening weekends in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  World War Z (2013)
3.
5.
  Finding Neverland (2004) Director
6.
  Monster's Ball (2002) Director
7.
  Everything Put Together (2000) Director
8.
  Loungers (1996) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Anatomy of a Scene: Monster's Ball (2002) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in a winter resort in eastern Switzerland
1990:
Left home for New York City at age 20
1993:
Graduated from NYU's prestigious film program
1993:
Made two documentary films for European television
1995:
Directed first feature "Loungers," which won the Slamdance Audience Award
2000:
Helmed the drama "Everything Put Together" about a woman coping with the loss of a child; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
2001:
Directed Halle Barry in her Academy Award-winning performance as the wife of a man on death row in "Monster's Ball"
2004:
Directed Johnny Depp as <i>Peter Pan</i> author J.M. Barrie in "Finding Neverland"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and was nominated by the Directors Guild for Outstanding Directorial Achievement
2005:
Directed the thriller "Stay" about a psychiatrist (Ewan McGregor) whose suicidal client (Ryan Gosling) makes some bizarre predictions that come true
2006:
Helmed the comedy "Stranger than Fiction," starring Will Ferrell as an IRS Agent whose world is turned upside-down when he begins to hear his life being chronicled by a narrator only he can hear
2007:
Directed the feature adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner"; the film follows an Afghani-American man who returns to his war-ravaged country to save the son of his former best friend
2008:
Filmed the twenty-second James Bond film "Quantum of Solace," starring Daniel Craig in the lead role of Agent 007
2011:
Directed Gerard Butler in the action drama "Machine Gun Preacher"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York , New York - 1993

Notes

"Marc, you're a genius!" --Halle Barry to Forster in her 2002 Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech for her performance in "Monster's Ball."

"I was interested in "Monster's Ball" because it dealt with so many different issues. Especially as a foreigner, when you come to this country you observe things that you're not actually aware of until you come and live here. It has less to do with the death of a child and more to do with racism; the differences between generations; what it means to be a man; breaking the cycle of violence; the whole death penalty issue. All strong issues that I confront myself and have my own opinions about, obviously. It was very important to me to explore them since I live here now and the people who grew up here have been much more ingrained."---Forster commenting on "Monster's Ball" to a German magazine

Forster let Halle Barry have final cut over her nude scenes in "Monster's Ball."

"As an artist, you have to be a bit selfish, because your work comes before everything else," he explained. "But as a human being it's important for me to be slightly understated; it's important that your ego keeps a balance with yourself."---Forster to Los Angeles TimesNovember 21, 2004.

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