Ari Aster Biography

(Film Director and Screenwriter)

Birthday: July 15, 1986 (Cancer)

Born In: New York City, New York, United States

American filmmaker and screenwriter Ari Aster is best known to global audiences for writing and directing the critically acclaimed horror films Hereditary (2018), Midsommar (2019), and Beau Is Afraid (2023). Born to a musician father and a poet mother in New York, Aster spent a part of his childhood in Chester, England, before moving back to the US. Obsessed with horror films since childhood, he later chose to study direction at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Over the years, he has earned 3 Gotham Award nominations, 2 for Hereditary and 1 for Midsommar. He is also known for his horror short films The Strange Thing About the Johnsons     and Munchausen. His films are known for their reliance on drama and the acting prowess of his lead actors and not on jump scares. Aster has been guarded about his personal life, and not much is known about his relationships.

Quick Facts

Age: 37 Years, 37 Year Old Males

Born Country: United States

Directors Screenwriters

Notable Alumni: AFI Conservatory, Santa Fe University Of Art And Design

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: AFI Conservatory, Santa Fe University Of Art And Design

Childhood, Early Life & Education

Ari Aster was born on July 15, 1986, into a Jewish family in New York City, US. While his father was a musician, his mother was a poet. He grew up with his younger brother.

He was 4 when he watched his first movie, Dick Tracy. The film had a scene in which a character fired a tommy gun, and when the scene played, Aster apparently jumped and ran through several blocks of the city, as his mother tried catching him.

Aster spent his early childhood in Chester, England, where his father opened a jazz nightclub. At age 10, Aster moved with his family to the US and settled in New Mexico.

As a child, Aster was obsessed with horror movies and would often visit video rental stores. In 2004, he joined the College of Santa Fe (the Santa Fe University of Art and Design), to study film. He graduated with a BFA in 2008.

Following this, Aster wanted to study screenwriting. However, he later felt he would not be a good screenwriter, as that would mean giving away the control of his movie to someone else. He thus decided to be a director. He joined the graduate program at the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory. In 2010, he obtained an MFA, specializing in direction.

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Ari Aster’s first short film, Tale of Two Tims, was written in college and eventually earned him the direction fellowship at the American Film Institute Conservatory. After making several films at the institute, he created the 2011 psychological-horror short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. The film was about sexual abuse within a family. This was not just his thesis film but was also showcased at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival. It also went viral on the internet.

In 2018, he made his feature-film directorial debut with the supernatural psychological horror film Hereditary. He had both written and directed the movie. Critics believe the movie was his attempt at creating an existential horror movie.

The 127-minute film, touted by the media as the scariest film of the year, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and became the production house A24’s highest-grossing movie globally. The film earned him nominations for the 2018 Gotham Awards for the Breakthrough Director and Audience Award. It also fetched him nominations for the 2018 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award and the 2019 Independent Spirit Award for the Best First Feature.

Actor Toni Collette, who starred in the movie, stated that Aster had already prepared the movie in his head 2 years earlier. In June 2019, Ari Aster and producer Lars Knudsen launched the production company, Square Peg.

Aster’s second film with A24 was the 2019 folk horror movie Midsommar, which starred English actor Florence Pugh. The movie, which almost ran for 2 and a half hours, had a director’s cut that pushed it close to 3 hours’ length. It was another huge hit of A24 and earned Aster his second Gotham Award nomination (for Best Screenplay).

Both Hereditary and Midsommar were films that were visually stunning. However, both, like most of Aster’s horror movies, were not dependent on jump scares and relied on interpersonal drama and performances from their lead actors instead.

In 2021, Aster signed a TV deal with A24. In August, the following year, Aster declared that he would, through Square Peg, work with A24 to produce Kristoffer Borgli's film Dream Scenario, which would star Nicolas Cage.

In 2023, he released his 3rd A24 movie, Beau Is Afraid, a surrealist tragicomedy horror movie, starring Academy Award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix as Beau Wassermann. The movie, originally titled Disappointment Blvd, blended elements of comedy, action, and Freudian melodrama, too. It was received quite well by critics.

Some of Aster’s other notable projects are the 2011 short film TDF Really Works, which Aster wrote, directed, edited, and acted in, and the 2013 silent horror short film Munchausen, which Aster both wrote and directed. The latter had Die Hard’s Bonnie Bedelia playing a mother who shares an unhealthy attachment with her teenage son and prevents him from marrying or leaving home.

Aster’s signature elements are his mix of horror and dark humor, depictions of graphic violence, long camera shots, and the inclusion of pagan religions and cults. His films also deal with universal emotions, such as guilt, shame, and fear.

He has often stated that he has been inspired by movies such as Repulsion (1965), Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Thing (1982), The Age of Innocence (1993), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), and The Piano Teacher (2001).

Ari Aster often posts exclusive interview clips and horror film content on his official Twitter account and is immensely popular on the platform. He also penned the novel Sammy Barthowe At Your Service!, which was a Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction finalist.

Personal Life

Ari Aster has been a private person and has not revealed much about his personal life or relationships. Some reports state that Midsommar was based on his exploration of the end of one his former relationships.

Rumors state that Aster once dated German film producer and director Juliane Block. It is believed that the two first met each other while attending the American Film Institute. However, neither Aster nor Block have ever discussed about this rumored relationship publicly. Some also believe that they are still together or are married to each other, though such claims have not been proved and have thus been dismissed as baseless.

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