Arnaud des Pallières

What I like about cinema is the invention, inventing ways to tell stories.

À travers un œil singulier et affûté, Arnaud des Pallières dépeint une réalité sans concession où s’entrelacent histoire, philosophie et poésie. Portrait d’un cinéaste qui promène sa caméra entre documentaire et fiction.

Updated on 14/03/2019

2 min

Arnaud des Pallières was born in Paris in 1961 and became interested in cinematic aesthetics and their intellectual resonances beginning in the 1970s. At the age of 16, he began working in theatre as an actor and director before undertaking film studies at the Fémis, where he filmed Gilles Deleuze's famous speech "What is the creative act? (“Qu'est-ce que l'acte de création ?") (1988).

After a dozen short films, in 1996 he made his first feature film, Drancy Avenir. He created several projects for television while continuing to write and direct for the big screen, reaching an increasingly wide audience as illustrated by the success of his film Michael Kohlhaas, which was nominated for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or.

Combining visual, aural and textual experiments, Arnaud des Pallières has established a dynamic dialogue between fictional stories and documentary essays, taking a hand-crafted approach to the cinematographic subject.

Whether he is interrogating the motives for vengeance of a horse dealer from the 16th century (Michael Kohlhaas), setting out his terrifying vision of Mickey’s joyful world (Disneyland, my old home (“Disneyland, mon vieux pays natal”)) or tracing the fate of a modern woman through four moments in her life (Orphan (“Orphelin”)), the French director describes a reality characterised by philosophical questions coloured by the full spectrum of human emotions. This novelistic diversity has made him an important figure in contemporary cinema.

Over the course of a career praised by critics, Arnaud des Pallières has presented many of his achievements at festivals which have contributed to his international influence. His filmography includes world-renowned actors such as the Sergi López (Spain) and the Mads Mikkelsen (Denmark).

With American Dust (“Poussières d’Amérique”), the fruit of ten years of work, he created a powerful visual epic set in twentieth-century America, revealing his subjective and unapologetic vision of the collective history of the United States.

  • 1988


    A student at Fémis, Arnaud des Pallières invites Gilles Deleuze to speak and films his lecture: What is the creative act?

  • 1997


    Drancy Avenir, Arnaud des Pallières's first feature film, is praised by critics for its disturbing journey in the footsteps of the Holocaust.

  • 2000


    Arnaud des Pallières writes and produces his first documentary film for television, Is Dead (Incomplete Portrait of Gertrude Stein) (“Is Dead (Portrait incomplet de Gertrude Stein)”)

  • 2013


    Michael Kohlhaas, Arnaud des Pallières's most ambitious project, is an official selection at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

  • 2016


    Arnaud de Pallières wins two Bayard D’Or awards at the Namur International Francophone Film Festival for the feature film Orphan.

The Institut français and the director.

Three films by Arnaud des Pallières are distributed internationally by the Institut français: Park (“Parc”) (2006), Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas (“Michael Kohlhaas”) (2013) and Orphan (“Orpheline”) (2016).


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