Damien Odoul
Damien Odoul © D.O.Films
Visual arts

Damien Odoul

As an artist, it is necessary to completely accept all the risks connected to creating a work

Damien Odoul is a filmmaker and cross-disciplinary artist. He depicts the dark side of humanity through the arts, all while claiming its eccentricity. He is lively and sensitive, refusing norms in order to put the public’s habits to the test. Damien Odoul has built a discreet but unusual career.

Updated on 08/10/2021

2 min

Damien Odoul was born in 1968 and is a multi-disciplinary artist who has distinguished himself in film, but also through his poems and photographs. Leaving a childhood he deems “sad” behind him, as a teenager he immersed himself in writing and photography which taught him the rigour of framing. Ahead of his peers, he was only 23 when made his first feature film, Morasseix (1992), in which he played the title role. This romantic drama remained unseen until it was shown at the Giornate degli Autori in Venice, in 2004.

Although he acts in most of his films, Damien Odoul remains a discreet film-maker with no limits. He continued his career as a director while turning towards literature and image for an exhibition, Virtual fight et lymphatique, in 2007. Ten years later, he stayed at Villa Kujoyama to construct his Oneiros ou l’homme qui revient (Oneiros or the Man Who Came Back) project and proved he is an accomplished artist by combining documentary with a previously-unseen sound and visual installation. In returning to the Berlin Film Festival in 2021 with his experimental Theo and the Metamorphosis, Damien Odoul confirms his uniqueness in French film, by looking sensitively at his hero, who has Down’s Syndrome.

The work of Damien Odoul is voluntarily surprising and constructed off the beaten track. Constantly innovating, the director provides a dark view of our reality in each of his films. Whether he looks at how a couple breaks down with Errance (Wandering) (2003), films war like a theatre of cruelty in The Fear (2015), brings his characters in a burlesque and ironic farce in After We're Gone (2004), or gives them immoral fantasies as in The Story of Richard O. (2007): Damien Odoul does not back away from any excess. Highly immersed in nature and animals, the film-maker is also known for his undertakings with the disabled. In 2013, he founded the Sylvart home in a forest, a place for expression for recognised artists with mental disabilities. When he returned to film with Theo and the Metamorphosis (2021), he invited an actor with Down’s Syndrome into his quest for meaning.

Damien Odoul received international recognition from his second film, Deep Breath (2000). This black and white drama was award a Grand Jury Prize in Venice and the Fipresci Prize, and was then sold in 14 countries. This was a real springboard for Damien Odoul’s career, enabling him to show his next films in the major foreign festivals: Errance (2002) and The Fear (2015) were shown at the TIFF in Toronto, Rich is the Wolf (2012) was shown at the Venice Film Festival and Locarno. His latest film, Theo and the Metamorphosis (2021) was recognised in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival. Only After We're Gone (2004) was critically acclaimed in France, at the Cannes Film Festival.

If his film work has gone around the world, the artist also takes himself abroad to find inspiration, between his residency at Villa Kujoyama in Japan in 2017, and his journeys in Iran for future projects.

  • 1992


    Damien Odoul made his first film, Morasseix.

  • 2000


    Damien Odoul was acclaimed at the Venice Film Festival for his film, Deep Breath, which brought him to the attention of the world.

  • 2004


    The filmmaker started publishing poetry.

  • 2013


    He founded SYLVART, a home for disabled artists in a forest.

  • 2017


    He published Résurrection permanente d'un cinéaste amoureux (Continuous Resurrection of a Director in Love), in which he speaks about his work as a director.

  • 2021


    The director releases Theo and the Metamorphosis, previewed at the Berlin Film Festival.

The Institut français and the artist

In 2017, Damien Odoul was selected to spend time at the Villa Kujoyama, a residency for artists in Japan supported by the Institut français.

The Villa Kujoyama is an institution of the cultural cooperation network of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Operated by the Institut français du Japon, the Villa Kujoyama is working closely with Institut français and it’s supported by its main patron the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation.

Find out more about Villa Kujoyama 



L'institut français, LAB