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 
Luc Besson
(Film Director, Screenwriter, and Producer Known for Making Highly Visual Thriller and Action Films)

Luc Besson
4
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. 

 2 
Jean-Luc Godard
(Director and A Pioneer of the 1960s 'French New Wave' Film Movement Best Known for His Film 'Breathless')

Jean-Luc Godard
3
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.

 3 
Jacques Cousteau
(Co-Inventor of the First Open-Circuit, Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus 'Aqua-Lung')

Jacques Cousteau
4
Birthdate: June 11, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France
Died: June 25, 1997

Jacques Cousteau was a French explorer, naval officer, filmmaker, conservationist, scientist, photographer, researcher, and author. Renowned for his exploration of various forms of life in water, Jacques Cousteau is credited with pioneering marine conservation and co-developing the Aqua-Lung, the first underwater breathing apparatus to achieve popularity and commercial success.

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 4 
François Truffaut
(One of the Founders of the 'French New Wave' Art Movement & An Icon of the French Film Industry)

François Truffaut
3
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. 

 5 

Alejandro Jodorowsky
3
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).

 6 
Frank Darabont
(Director and Screenwriter Known for His Films 'The Green Mile’ and 'The Shawshank Redemption')

Frank Darabont
3
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.

 7 
Georges Méliès
(One of the First Filmmakers to Use Storyboards & Fictional Narratives in Movies)

Georges Méliès
3
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

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 8 
Guillaume Canet
(French Actor & Director Known for His Films 'Joyeux Noël', 'The Beach' and 'Tell No One')

Guillaume Canet
4
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.  

 9 
Jean Renoir
(French Film Director & Screenwriter Known for His Films 'La Grande Illusion' and 'The Rules of the Game')

Jean Renoir
2
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.

 10 
Louis Malle
(Screenwriter, Film producer, Film director, Camera operator, Cinematographer, Actor)

Louis Malle
3
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.

 11 
Agnes Varda
(Film Director)

Agnes Varda
3
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. 

 12 

Morgane Polanski
3
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.

 13 
Louis Garrel
(French Actor and Filmmaker Best Known for His Starring Role in the Movie 'The Dreamers')

Louis Garrel
3
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.

 14 
Vittorio De Sica
(Film director, who was a leader in the neorealist movement of the 1940's and 1950's)

Vittorio De Sica
2
Birthdate: July 7, 1901
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sora, Italy
Died: November 13, 1974

Four-time Academy Award-winning director Vittorio De Sica was a symbol of Italian neorealism. Apart from creating masterpieces such as Bicycle Thieves and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. He had begun his career acting in silent films and had then also participated in musical theater. He was both a Roman Catholic and a communist.

 15 
Michel Gondry
(Film director)

Michel Gondry
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Versailles, France

 16 
Samuel Benchetrit
(French Writer, Actor, and Director)

Samuel Benchetrit
3
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.

 17 
Anna Karina
(Actress)

Anna Karina
3
Birthdate: September 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Solbjerg, Denmark
Died: December 14, 2019

Anna Karina was a Danish-French film actress, singer, and director. She often collaborated with French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in many of his films, including My Life to Live and Bande à part. She set up her own production company in 1972 and made her directorial debut with Vivre ensemble. She was also a published author. 

 18 
Maiwenn
(Known for Her Screenwriting and Directorial Work on Polisse (2011), Pardonnez-Moi (2006))

Maiwenn
3
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

 19 
Michel Houellebecq
(Author Best Known for His Works 'Atomised' and 'The Map and the Territory')

Michel Houellebecq
3
Birthdate: February 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Pierre, Réunion, France

Michel Houellebecq is a French author known for his novels, essays, and poems. He also occasionally makes films. As controversial as he is popular, he has been accused of obscenity, misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia. His works generally receive positive responses and some critics consider him one of the greatest living authors today. He is a recipient of the Prix Goncourt. 

 20 
Roger Vadim
(Director and Screenwriter Best Known for His Films: 'And God Created Woman', 'Blood and Roses' and 'Barbarella')

Roger Vadim
3
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.

 21 
Mathieu Amalric
(Actor best known internationally for his roles in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, in which he played the lead villain)

Mathieu Amalric
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

 22 
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
(Film director who achieved his biggest success with the release of Amélie, gaining international acclaim and reaching BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
2
Birthdate: September 3, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Le Coteau, France

 23 
Ariane Labed
(Actress)

Ariane Labed
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Athens, Greece

 24 
Antonin Artaud
(French Writer, Theatre Director and One of the Major Figures of the European Avant-Garde)

Antonin Artaud
3
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.  

 25 
Greg Lansky
(Director)

Greg Lansky
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 26 
Joséphine de La Baume
(Actress and Singer of French Indie Band 'Singtank')

Joséphine de La Baume
3
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

 27 
Cecilia Peck
(Film producer)

Cecilia Peck
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 28 
Robert Bresson
(Director)

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

 29 

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

 30 
Jacques Tati
(Actor, Director who wrote and starred in Mr. Hulot's Holiday)

Jacques Tati
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Le Pecq, France
Died: November 5, 1982

 31 
Romain Gary
(Novelist)

Romain Gary
2
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 
Éric Rohmer
(Film director)

Éric Rohmer
2
Birthdate: March 21, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tulle, France
Died: January 11, 2010

 33 
Claire Denis
(Film director)

Claire Denis
3
Birthdate: April 21, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

 34 
Pierre Coffin
(Voice actor)

Pierre Coffin
2
Birthdate: March 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: France

 35 
Olivier Assayas
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film critic)

Olivier Assayas
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 36 

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

 37 
Yoann Lemoine
(Music Video Director)

Yoann Lemoine
2
Birthdate: March 16, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tassin-la-Demi-Lune, France

 38 
Pierre Woodman
(Film director)

Pierre Woodman
3
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.

 39 
Marjane Satrapi
(Graphic Novelist Known for Her Works 'Persepolis' and 'Chicken with Plums')

Marjane Satrapi
0
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rasht, Iran

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

 40 

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

 41 
Alexandre Aja
(Film director best known for his work in the horror genre)

Alexandre Aja
2
Birthdate: August 7, 1978
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France

 42 
François Ozon
(Film director, Screenwriter)

François Ozon
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France

 43 
Alain Resnais
(Film director)

Alain Resnais
2
Birthdate: June 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vannes, France
Died: March 1, 2014

 44 
Jean-Pierre Melville
(Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer)

Jean-Pierre Melville
2
Birthdate: October 20, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 2, 1973

 45 
Julia Ducournau
(Director)

Julia Ducournau
2
Birthdate: November 18, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France

 46 
Yvan Attal
(Actor, Director)

Yvan Attal
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Yvan Attal is an Israeli-French actor, director, and screenwriter best known for his work in the film My Wife Is an Actress, for which he received a Cesar Award nomination. He acted in one segment of the film New York, I Love You, and directed another. He also dubs and has dubbed for Tom Cruise’s character in many films.    

 47 
Marc Dorcel
(Producer, director and founder of Video Marc Dorcel)

Marc Dorcel
2
Birthdate: 1934 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France

 48 
Quentin Dupieux
(DJ and film director known for his work with Ed Banger Records)

Quentin Dupieux
2
Birthdate: April 14, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

 49 
Dany Boon
(Actor)

Dany Boon
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Armentières, France

 50 
Jean-Jacques Annaud
(Film director)

Jean-Jacques Annaud
2
Birthdate: October 1, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Île-de-France, France