Famous French Directors

What does a perfect evening seem like – a bottle of finest wine, a cuddling couch, a DVD of a super successful film and some popcorn to pop up the mood, isn’t it? Cinema was, has and shall be the greatest source of entertainment for humans. While every country today has its own film industry, there are few that have gained worldwide attention and French cinema is one of them. Renowned world over for its meticulous art of film making, French film industry has given the world a plethora of films that have been legendary in content and cinematography. And we have but French directors to thank for it. Interestingly, French directors have rolled out films in various genres, right from fabled tales to love stories, historic period films to sci-fi variants to suit the needs of all. Though each of them have a different approach towards film-making, what intrinsically remains the same for all French filmmakers include exceptional artistic perspective, unerring commitment, deep passion, extensive understanding and a resolute determination. They forward a cinematic experience that transports viewers to a world dominated by creativity and vision. Some of the outstandingly talented and exceptionally gifted French directors who have put on big screen brilliant French movies through their meticulous hard work and effort include Xavier Beauvois, Jacques Audiard, Rene Clement, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Jean Renoir, Alain Resnais, Robert Bresson, Francois Truffaut and so on. Browse through this segment and know about famous French directors.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite French Directors

 1 Mélanie Laurent

Mélanie Laurent
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 21, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France

French actor Mélanie Laurent shot to fame with her Étoiles d'Or-winning role in Dikkenek and her César Award-winning performance in Don't Worry, I'm Fine. She made her Hollywood debut with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and was also seen in Now You See Me. She has also released a music album.

 2 Vincent Cassel

Vincent Cassel
4
Famous As: Film actor
Birthdate: November 23, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

While he first came to prominence with his role in La Haine, French actor Vincent Cassel later got typecast in roles of short-tempered men. He has also won a César Award for his portrayal of Jacques Mesrine in the 2008 movie Mesrine. He is a trained martial artist, too.

 3 Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard
3
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: December 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

The Paris-born French-Swiss director and screenwriter has the reputation of adding new dimensions to filmmaking with his experimentation, a trend which came to be known as French New Wave. The director of acclaimed films like Breathless, My Life to Live and Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard was married to actress Anna Karina. He is regarded as an all-time great director.

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 4 Damien Chazelle

Damien Chazelle
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: January 19, 1985
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Best known for his 2014 psychological drama film Whiplash, Damien Chazelle is a Rhode Island-born American film director and screenwriter. An alumnus of the Harvard University, he began his career with a black-and-white musical, writing screenplays before making his breakthrough with Whiplash, winning several awards not only for the film, but also for La La Land and First Man.

 5 Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 18, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France

Polish-French film director, producer, writer, and actor Roman Polanski is a popular yet controversial figure. He has made several critically acclaimed films and has received six Oscar nominations. He has been accused of sexual abuse by numerous women and is a subject of an Interpol red notice issued for his arrest.

 6 Luc Besson

Luc Besson
4
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: March 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France

Luc Besson is a French film director, producer, and screenwriter. He started working in the film industry as an assistant to famous directors and learned the nuances of direction. He then moved on to direct films and launched his own production company. He is considered a key figure in the Cinéma du look movement. 

 7 François Truffaut

François Truffaut
3
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: February 6, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 21, 1984

François Truffaut was a French film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. He is credited to be one of the founders of the French New Wave. Beginning his career in the mid-1950s, he was active in the entertainment industry for close to three decades. His film The 400 Blows is considered a defining film of the French New Wave movement. 

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 8 Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky
3
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: February 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tocopilla, Chile

Chilean-French filmmaker and artist, Alejandro Jodorowsky, is best known for his avant-garde films. A multifaceted personality, he is also a novelist, poet, musician, composer, and spiritual guru. His films are filled with surreal images and mysticism. A much-revered figure in international cinema, he is the recipient of the Jack Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF).

 9 Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès
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Famous As: Illusionist
Birthdate: December 8, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 21, 1938

Initially a professional illusionist and later a film director, Georges Méliès became interested in motion pictures after watching the first real film made by Lumière brothers. Realizing the potential of film-making as an art, he soon started experimenting, making technical and narrative developments. Among the 400 films he made were Christ Walking on Water, A Trip to the Moon etc

 10 Frank Darabont

Frank Darabont
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: January 28, 1959
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France

A lifelong fan of horror books and movies, especially of Stephen King, three-time Oscar nominated film director and screenwriter Frank Darabont decided to take up film making as his profession after seeing THX 1138. Beginning his career with screenwriting, he debuted as director with Buried Alive, eventually making such magnificent films like Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist.

 11 Guillaume Canet

Guillaume Canet
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 10, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Born into a family of horse breeders, actor, director and screenwriter Guillaume Canet aspired to become a show jumper. However, a fall at the age of eighteen steered his destiny towards acting and very soon he was staring in films like Joyeux Noël and The Beach.  Eventually he also started directing; winning several awards for his 2006 production, Tell No One.  

 12 Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim
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Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: January 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 11, 2000

Roger Vadim was a French film director, producer, screenwriter, and artist. He is remembered for his visually aesthetic movies with erotic qualities. He was also popular for his relationships with beautiful actresses like Catherine Deneuve, Cindy Pickett, and Margaret Markov. Also an author, Vadim wrote several books, including his autobiography, From One Star to the Next.

 13 Thomas Bangalter

Thomas Bangalter
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Singer, Guitarist, Director, Composer, Screenwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tlaxcala

French musician Thomas Bangalter had been part of the six-time Grammy-winning electronic music duo Daft Punk for 28 years, before it split. Known for wearing their signature helmets while performing, he and his partner, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, released iconic hits such as Da Funk and Get Lucky.

 14 Morgane Polanski

Morgane Polanski
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 20, 1993
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

Morgane Polanski is a French-Polish model and actress, best known for her portrayal of Princess Gisla in the historical fantasy drama TV series, Vikings. The daughter of filmmaker Roman Polanski and actress Emmanuelle Seigner, Morgane Polanski followed in the footsteps of her parents to establish herself in the entertainment industry.

 15 Louis Malle

Louis Malle
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Film producer, Film director, Camera operator, Cinematographer, Actor
Birthdate: October 30, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Thumeries
Died: November 23, 1995

Louis Malle was a French film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for his film Le Monde du silence, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1957. He was also the recipient of two Golden Lion awards, one of the only four directors to have achieved this feat. He was active in both French cinema and Hollywood.

 16 Jean Renoir

Jean Renoir
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Famous As: Film Director, Actor, Producer
Birthdate: September 15, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montmartre, Paris, France
Died: February 12, 1979

Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. The son of the prominent painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean was one of the first filmmakers to be known as an auteur. He started working during the silent film era and made more than 40 silent films. In 1975, he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.

 17 Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau
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Famous As: Poet, Playwright, filmmaker
Birthdate: July 5, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maisons-Laffitte, France
Died: October 11, 1963
While Jean Cocteau preferred calling himself a poet, his multidimensional works consisted of novels such as Les Enfants Terribles and films directed by him such as La Belle et la Bête. Cocteau relied on motifs such as eyes, blood, and mirrors, and mingled mythology and modernism.

 18 Louis Garrel

Louis Garrel
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 14, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

Best known for his starring role in The Dreamers, French actor and filmmaker Louis Garrel in general portrays similar characters, appearing as somebody involved in love triangles or historical figures like Jacques de Bascher, Jean-Luc Godard and Alfred Dreyfus. Since 2006, he has also been making films, screenwriting and directing movies like Two Friends, A Faithful Man, The Crusade etc.

 19 Agnes Varda

Agnes Varda
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: May 30, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium
Died: March 29, 2019

Agnes Varda was a Belgian-born French film director, screenwriter, and artist. She was a key figure in the development of the French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She often made films addressing women’s issues and other social justice problems. She was honored with an Academy Honorary Award. She was married to director Jacques Demy. 

 20 Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: May 8, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Versailles, France

 21 Samuel Benchetrit

Samuel Benchetrit
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 26, 1973
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Champigny-sur-Marne, France

Samuel Benchetrit is a French writer, scenarist, actor, and director. Over the years, Benchetrit's achievements as a writer and actor have been overshadowed by his personal life and relationships with popular actresses like Marie Trintignant, Anna Mouglalis, and Vanessa Paradis.

 22 Maiwenn

Maiwenn
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: April 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Les Lilas, France

Pressured by her mother, actress-cum-filmmaker Maiwenn began her acting career at a very tender age, making her mark with the role of Elle, as a child, in One Deadly Summer. Continuing to perform, she took a hiatus after her marriage, eventually returning to acting, starring in movies like High Tension before venturing into film-direction; she quickly achieved international recognition with Polisse

 23 Greg Lansky

Greg Lansky
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: December 12, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 24 Ariane Labed

Ariane Labed
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Athens, Greece

 25 Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
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Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer, Film editor
Birthdate: September 3, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Roanne

 26 Antonin Artaud

Antonin Artaud
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 4, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: March 4, 1948

Antonin Artaud was a French writer, poet, dramatist, and theater director. Known for his raw, surreal, and transgressive themes, he was a major figure in 20th-century theater. He outlined his theories in the Theatre of Cruelty movement, expressed in the form of essays and plays. He died of cancer at the age of 51.  

 27 Joséphine de La Baume

Joséphine de La Baume
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Joséphine de La Baume is a French actress, model, film director, and singer. She is credited with founding a rock and garage group called Film Noir in 2018. The group's debut EP Vertiges, which released in 2019, was met with critical success. She is also an important member of an indie band named Singtank

 28 Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson
2
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: September 25, 1901
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bromont-Lamothe, France
Died: December 18, 1999

 29 Mathieu Kassovitz

Mathieu Kassovitz
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: August 3, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France

 30 Jacques Tati

Jacques Tati
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Famous As: Film actor, Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Comedian, Film producer
Birthdate: October 9, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Le Pecq
Died: November 4, 1982

 31 Romain Gary

Romain Gary
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 21, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vilnius, Lithuania
Died: December 2, 1980

Romain Gary was a French novelist, diplomat, and film director of Jewish origin. He also served as an aviator during World War II. One of France’s most popular and prolific writers, he is the only author to have won the Prix Goncourt twice. He had a troubled personal life and died of suicide in 1980.

 32 Pierre Woodman

Pierre Woodman
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: April 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Auvergne, France

After working odd jobs as a bartender and a policeman, Pierre Woodman began his career as a fashion photographer. He then stepped into porn film direction and launched the longest-running porn series in the world, Casting X. Woodman is his pseudonym, which he earned for his love for climbing trees.

 33 Cecilia Peck

Cecilia Peck
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Famous As: Film producer
Birthdate: May 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 34 Pierre Coffin

Pierre Coffin
2
Famous As: Voice actor
Birthdate: March 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: France

 35 Éric Rohmer

Éric Rohmer
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Famous As: French film director
Birthdate: March 21, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tulle
Died: January 11, 2010

 36 Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas
2
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Film critic
Birthdate: January 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 37 Laëtitia Eïdo

Laëtitia Eïdo
2
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: France

 38 Daniel Auteuil

Daniel Auteuil
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 24, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Algiers, Algeria

 39 Yoann Lemoine

Yoann Lemoine
2
Famous As: Music Video Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tassin-la-Demi-Lune, France

 40 Alexandre Aja

Alexandre Aja
2
Famous As: Screenwriter, Film producer, Film director
Birthdate: August 7, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris

 41 François Ozon

François Ozon
2
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer, Film editor
Birthdate: November 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris

 42 Claire Denis

Claire Denis
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: April 21, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

 43 Leos Carax

Leos Carax
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: November 22, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Suresnes, France

 44 Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: June 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vannes, France
Died: March 1, 2014

 45 Jean-Pierre Melville

Jean-Pierre Melville
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Famous As: Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer
Birthdate: October 20, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 2, 1973

 46 Jean-Jacques Annaud

Jean-Jacques Annaud
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: October 1, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Île-de-France, France

 47 Marc Dorcel

Marc Dorcel
2
Famous As: film producer, film director
Birthdate: March 27, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Algeria

 48 Judith Godrèche

Judith Godrèche
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

 49 Jacques Demy

Jacques Demy
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Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Dialogue writer, Lyricist, Film producer, Actor
Birthdate: June 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pontchâteau
Died: October 27, 1990

 50 Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol
3
Famous As: Film director, Film actor, Press agent, Screenwriter, Film producer, Film critic, Actor
Birthdate: June 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sardent
Died: September 12, 2010