Robin Campillo

I like having an ambiguous career. Because I cannot sit behind my computer and say: "So, what story am I going to tell today? What is the subject? I need the subject to invade me. To make cinema, you have to be haunted by something other than cinema.

Long on the margins of French cinema, or in the shadow of his friend Laurent Cantet, in 2017 the multi-talented filmmaker Robin Campillo finally arrived in the spotlight with 120 beats per minute (“120 battements par minute”), a biopic about activist group Act Up which was recognized at Cannes and the César Awards.

Published on 19/06/2019

2 min

Born in 1962 in Morocco, Robin Campillo is a director, screenwriter and editor. After studying in Aix-en-Provence, he enrolled at the Institute of Advanced Cinema Studies (now the Fémis) in the early 1980s. There he met Laurent Cantet, with whom he co-wrote and produced Time Out (“L'Emploi du temps") (2001), Heading South (“Vers le sud”) (2005) and The Class (“Entre les murs”), winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

A script consultant for Rebecca Zlotowski (Planetarium), Alice Winocour (Maryland) and Pascale Breton (Suite Armoricaine), he himself directed three feature films: They Came Back (“Les Revenants”) (2004), Eastern Boys (2013), and 120 beats per minute, which won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 and several César awards, including those for Best Film, Best Original Script, and Best Editing.

An understated but influential director, Robin Campillo has directed three films. With They Came Back, a zombie story that inspired Canal+’s series of the same name, his bold writing, marrying clinical realism and disturbing science fiction, made a lasting impression.

Using variations of rhythm and intensity, the production style of Eastern Boys, which chronicles the involvement of a middle-class Parisian man in the violent reality of an Eastern Europe gangster’s life, questions the meaning of action and responsibility in the context of sexual consumerism.

The political dimension of Campillo's cinema finally lets loose in his most militant film, 120 beats per minute, recounting the history of the group Act Up, which battled the indifference of French society in the face of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s.

Perhaps because of its political aspects, which have a universal resonance, Robin Campillo's cinema has been popular internationally. In 2004, They Came Back was selected for the 61st Venice International Film Festival. The Canal + series inspired by its plot will go on to be the subject of two American remakes and tweets of praise from Stephen King himself. Eastern Boys received the Horizons Prize for Best Film (Orizzonti selection) at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival and was awarded the prize for Best International Film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2014.

The film 120 beats per minute has been distributed in more than 40 countries worldwide. It has also received numerous international awards, including the Prix Fipresci (International Critics Prize) and represented France at the 2017 Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category.

They Came Back (“Les Revenants”) ( trailer )
They Came Back (“Les Revenants”) ( trailer )
  • 2001


    Robin Campillo co-authors and edits Time Out by Laurent Cantet.

  • 2004


    He directs the feature film They Came Back, which Canal+ will then successfully adapt for television.

  • 2009


    Robin Campillo receives the César for Best Adaptation for The Class, directed by Laurent Cantet.

  • 2013


    In Eastern Boys, he films Olivier Rabourdin in the role of Daniel, a single middle-aged man who allows himself to be seduced by Marek, played by Kirill Emelyanov, a young Ukrainian prostitute cruising at the Gare du Nord.

  • 2017


    120 beats per minute, his biopic about Act Up, receives the Grand Prix at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and many César Awards in 2018, including Best Film, Best Original Script and Best Editing.

The Institut français and the filmmaker

Eastern Boys by Robin Campillo is distributed internationally by the Institut français.


The Institut français offers a catalogue of over 2,500 titles, enabling the French cultural network and its partners to screen French films around the world.


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