Paul Schrader

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Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader

Director and screenwriter Paul Joseph Schrader (B.1946) attended the inaugural class at the American Film Institute. Subsequently he inaugurated an era of cinematic inventiveness in multiple realms of film art.

After a debut as a film critic with a book that is still studied today, he burst onto the film scene with his ground-breaking scripts such as The Yakuza (Sidney Pollack) and Obsession (Brian De Palma), including four collaborations with Martin Scorsese : Taxi Driver – which won the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture – Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ – which premiered at the 1988 Venice Film Festival – and Bringing Out the Dead.

His directorial debut with Blue Collar (1978) on car factory workers attempting to escape their socio-economic rut through theft and blackmail inaugurated his career as a director in continuous tension between research and experimentation. Later, Schrader wrote and directed the loosely autobiographical film Hardcore, followed by the acclaimed crime drama American Gigolo starring Richard Gere, and the well-received critically horror remake Cat People.

The biographical drama Mishima. A Life in Four Chapters, inspired by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, interweaves episodes from Mishima’s life with dramatizations of segments from his books. His 1990s work included The Comfort of Strangers, adapted by Harold Pinter from the Ian McEwan novel, and Light Sleeper (1992), a sympathetic study of a drug dealer vying for a normal life. In 2005 Schrader described Light Sleeper as his “most personal” film. In 1998, Schrader won critical acclaim for the drama Affliction.

In 2019, Schrader was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the dramatic thriller First Reformed, which Schrader also directed, premiered at the 2017 Venice Film Festival and which received critical acclaim. In 2021, Schrader directed the crime drama The Card Counter, also premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival and widely lauded by critics.