Atom Egoyan

Egoyan in 2016
Atom Yeghoyan

(1960-07-19) July 19, 1960 (age 63)
  • Canada
  • Armenia (from 2018)[1]
Alma materTrinity College, Toronto
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • film producer
Years active1984–present
SpouseArsinée Khanjian

Atom Egoyan CC (/ɛˈɡɔɪən/;[2] Armenian: Աթոմ Եղոյեան, romanizedAtom Yeghoyan; born July 19, 1960) is a Canadian filmmaker.[3][4] He was part of a loosely affiliated group of filmmakers to emerge in the 1980s from Toronto known as the Toronto New Wave. Egoyan made his career breakthrough with Exotica (1994), a film set primarily in and around the fictional Exotica strip club.[5] Egoyan's most critically acclaimed film is the drama The Sweet Hereafter (1997), for which he received two Academy Award nominations, and his biggest commercial success is the erotic thriller Chloe (2009). He is considered by local film critic Geoff Pevere to be one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation.[6][7]

Egoyan's work often explores themes of alienation and isolation, featuring characters whose interactions are mediated through technology, bureaucracy, or other power structures. Egoyan's films often follow non-linear plot structures, in which events are placed out of sequence in order to elicit specific emotional reactions from the audience by withholding key information.[3]

In 2008, Egoyan received the Dan David Prize for "Creative Rendering of the Past."[8] Egoyan later received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, Canada's highest royal honour in the performing arts, in 2015.[9]

Early life and education

Egoyan was born Atom Yeghoyan on July 19, 1960,[10][11] in Cairo, then part of the United Arab Republic (now Egypt), to Armenian-Egyptian[12][13] painters[14][15] Shushan (née Devletian) and Joseph Yeghoyan.[16] He was named Atom to mark the completion of Egypt's first nuclear reactor.[12][17][18] He has a younger sister, Eve.[19] In 1963, the family immigrated to Victoria, British Columbia[13][14][15][20][21] due to the rise of Arab nationalism,[12] and changed their last name to Egoyan.

As a teenager, Egoyan became interested in reading and writing plays. Influences included Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. He also attributes his future in the film industry to Persona (1966), which he viewed at age 14, according to an interview he had with journalist Robert K. Elder for The Film That Changed My Life:

It gave me an incredible respect for the medium and its possibilities. To me, Persona marries a pure form and a very profound vision with absolute conviction. It's very inspiring. I felt that it was able to open a door that wasn't there before.[22]

Egoyan graduated from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. It was at Trinity College that he came into contact with Harold Nahabedian, the Armenian-Canadian Anglican Chaplain of Trinity College. In interviews, Egoyan credited Nahabedian for introducing him to the language and history of his ethnic heritage. Egoyan also wrote for the University of Toronto's independent weekly, The Newspaper, during his time at the school.[citation needed]


Egoyan began making films in the early 1980s; his debut film Next of Kin (1984) world-premiered at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg and won a major prize. He directed the 1985 Twilight Zone episode "The Wall". His commercial breakthrough came with the film Exotica (1994). He received the Grand Prix (Belgian Film Critics Association) in Brussels, the FIPRESCI Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and Best Motion Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards (then called the Genie Awards). However, it was Egoyan's first attempt at adapted material that resulted in his best-known work, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), which earned him three prizes at the 50th Cannes Film Festival: the Grand Prix, the FIPRESCI Jury Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The film also earned Egoyan Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film Ararat (2002) generated much publicity for Egoyan. After Henri Verneuil's French-language film Mayrig (1991), it was the first major motion picture to deal directly with the Armenian genocide. Ararat later won the award for Best Motion Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards, marking his third win.[citation needed] The film was released in over 30 countries around the world. In 2004, Egoyan opened Camera Bar, a 50-seat cinema-lounge on Queen Street West in Toronto.[23] The bar has since closed.[24]

Beginning in September 2006, Egoyan taught at the University of Toronto for three years.[25] He joined the Faculty of Arts and Science as the Dean's Distinguished Visitor in theatre, film, music, and visual studies. He subsequently taught at Ryerson University.[26] In 2006, he received the Master of Cinema Award of the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg.

In 2009, he directed the erotic thriller Chloe, which was theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics on March 26, 2010. This film grossed $3 million in box office sales in the United States and became one of the higher-grossing specialty films of the year in the United States.[27] Several months after the DVD/Blu-ray release of Chloe, Egoyan said that Chloe had made more money than any of his previous films.[6][7] The success of Chloe led Egoyan to receive many scripts of erotic thrillers.[28]

In 2012, he directed a production of Martin Crimp's Cruel and Tender, starring Khanjian, at Canadian Stage in Toronto.[29]

After the release of the West Memphis Three from 18 years in prison, Egoyan directed a movie about the case called Devil's Knot (2013) starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, based on a book, Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt. His next feature, The Captive (2014), starred Ryan Reynolds and screened in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[30] where it received largely negative reviews from critics.[31] Justin Chang from Variety described the film as "a ludicrous abduction thriller that finds a once-great filmmaker slipping into previously un-entered realms of self-parody."[32]

In 2015, Egoyan directed the thriller Remember, which starred Christopher Plummer and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, before being given a limited release in theatres.[33] His latest film is the drama Guest of Honour, was nominated for a Golden Lion in competition in Venice in 2019, had a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, and opening night galas in Vancouver and Montreal.

Beginning around 1996, Egoyan has directed several operas, including Salome, Così fan tutte, and The Ring Cycle, at the Canadian Opera, Vancouver Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, and elsewhere.[34] [35]

Personal life

Egoyan is based in Toronto, where he lives with his wife, actress Arsinée Khanjian, who appears in many of his films, and their son, Arshile (named after the Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky).

In 1999, Egoyan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada; he was promoted in 2015 to Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest grade of the honour.[36] In 2009, he won the 'Master of Cinema' award from the Mannheim Film Festival, 25 years after receiving his international festival premiere at the same event. In 2017, Egoyan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Film Festival of India.


Feature films

Year Film Notes
1984 Next of Kin Won prizes at International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg; nominated for Best Direction Genie Award
1987 Family Viewing Won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Locarno International Film Festival (1988)
1989 Speaking Parts Best Motion Picture nomination, including five others, at the 1989 Genie Awards
1991 The Adjuster Won the Special Silver St. George at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival,[37] Best Canadian Film and Best Ontario Picture at Cinefest Sudbury (1991)
1993 Calendar Won the Special Jury Prize at Taormina International Film Festival (1993)
1994 Exotica Won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival[38]
1997 The Sweet Hereafter Won Grand Prize of the Jury, FIPRESCI Jury and Ecumenical Jury Prizes at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival[39]
1999 Felicia's Journey Won the Best Adapted Screenplay at Genie Awards (2000)
2002 Ararat Won Best Motion Picture at the 2003 Genie Awards; also won Genies for costume design and original score; in addition, Arsinée Khanjian won the best actress award and Elias Koteas best supporting actor at the 2003 Genie Awards; also won the Writers Guild of Canada award in 2003
2005 Where the Truth Lies Won the Best Adapted Screenplay at Genie Awards (2006)
2008 Adoration Won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature Film – Special Jury Citation at Toronto International Film Festival (2008)
2009 Chloe Nominated for the DGC Craft Award at the Directors Guild of Canada (2010)
2013 Devil's Knot Nominated for the Best Film Golden Seashell Award at San Sebastián International Film Festival (2013)
2014 The Captive Palme d'Or nomination at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
2015 Remember Won the Vittorio Veneto Film Festival Award – Venice Film Festival (2015)
2019 Guest of Honour Nominated for the Golden Lion (Leone d'Oro) at the Venice Film Festival, opening nights at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Festival du nouveau cinéma
2023 Seven Veils

TV films

Short films

Documentary films



  1. ^ "PM Pashinyan hands Armenian passports to Arsinée Khanjian and Atom Egoyan". Armenpress. 7 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Say How: E". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Atom Egoyan Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and video lectures)". European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  4. ^ Nestruck, J. Kelly (February 23, 2011). "Canstage lures Atom Egoyan back to the stage". The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ "Atom Egoyan - The Interview". Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  6. ^ a b Pevere, Geoff (December 7, 2010). "The Digital Revolution: Part 1". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Atom Egoyan : "Ryan Reynolds m'a semblé une évidence"". MYTF1News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  8. ^ Dan David Prize Official site, Atom Egoyan Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Atom Egoyan - biography". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Famous birthdays for July 19". United Press International. July 19, 2019. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019. Filmmaker Atom Egoyan in 1960 (age 59)
  11. ^ "Today in History: July 19". Associated Press. July 19, 2022. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c Waxman, Sharon (December 14, 1997). "ATOM EGOYAN'S PARTICLES OF FAITH". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Clarke, Cath (January 21, 2010). "The double life of Atom Egoyan". The Guardian.
  14. ^ a b McKenna, Kristine (March 12, 1995). "This Director's Got a Brand Noir Bag". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Onstad, Katrina (August 27, 2009). "Adapting to Life's Change, on Screen and Off". The New York Times. Toronto. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  16. ^ "Atom Egoyan Biography (1960-)". Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  17. ^ Charles Rawlings-Way, Natalie Karneef (2007). Toronto (3rd ed.). Footscray, Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet. p. 28. ISBN 9781740598354.
  18. ^ "ATOM EGOYAN - BIOGRAPHY". European Graduate School. Retrieved 25 August 2013. Atom Egoyan's name was a symbolic choice by his parents, named after the new nuclear reactor in Egypt.
  19. ^ Interview with Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio One's programme Ideas on February 9, 2010. cf. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  20. ^ "Atom Egoyan Archive". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  21. ^ "Atom Egoyan Fonds". University of Toronto. 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  22. ^ Elder, Robert K. (2011). The Film That Changed My Life. Chicago Review Press. p. 179.
  23. ^ "Egoyan's Camera fades to black". Now. 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  24. ^ "Camera Bar shuts down".
  25. ^ "Teaching gig just another way to be creative, Egoyan says". 17 August 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Bio". Ego Film Arts. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  27. ^ "Chloe (2010) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  28. ^ "Atom Egoyan sifts through sex thriller scripts in wake of 'Chloe'". CP24. 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  29. ^ DeMara, Bruce (25 January 2012). "Filmmaker Atom Egoyan loving his return to directing live theatre". Toronto Star. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  30. ^ Vlessing, Etan (16 May 2014). "Cannes: Atom Egoyan on Why 'The Captive' Will 'Redefine' Ryan Reynolds". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  31. ^ "The Captive (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  32. ^ Chang, Justin (May 16, 2014). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Captive'". Variety.
  33. ^ "Remember - Gala Presentations". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  34. ^ "Atom Egoyan".
  35. ^ "Pacific Opera's Jenůfa is Egoyan's first Victoria show in 40 years". 13 October 2017.
  36. ^ "Order of Canada Appointment". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  37. ^ "17th Moscow International Film Festival (1991)". Moscow International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  38. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Exotica". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  39. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Sweet Hereafter". Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2009-09-23.