Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan, CC, BA, D.Litt, LL.D, RCA. Director

Pacific Opera Victoria
Director, Jenůfa

October, 2017

Atom Egoyan returns to his home town of Victoria, BC, to direct Pacific Opera Victoria's 2017 company première of Leoš Janáček's gripping opera Jenůfa.

Besides winning the Showcase Award from the Greater Victoria School's Drama Festival in 1978, Egoyan has two Academy AwardŽ nominations, five awards from the Cannes Film Festival – the Grand Prix and the International Critics Awards – as well as awards for numerous theatrical and opera productions including Salome, Die Walküre, and Così fan tutte for the Canadian Opera Company. Egoyan directed the world premières of the contemporary operas Feng Yi Ting (Spoletto Festival USA/Lincoln Centre New York), Dr. Ox's Experiment (English National Theatre), and Elsewhereless (Tapestry Music/Vancouver New Music/National Arts Centre) based on his original libretto. For Canadian Stage, he directed the North American premičre of Cruel and Tender. His production of Samuel Beckett's Eh Joe won The Irish Times/ESB Award for Best Direction. Egoyan has also been honoured with a 2015 Governor General's Performing Arts Award and a 2016 Opera Canada Award (Ruby) for Film and Stage Direction.

Atom Egoyan is one of the most celebrated contemporary filmmakers on the international scene. His body of work includes theatre, music, and art installations. His films have won 25 Genies – including three Best Film Awards – and a prize for Best International Film Adaptation from The Frankfurt Book Fair. Egoyan's films have been presented in numerous retrospectives across the world, including a complete career overview at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, followed by similar events at the Filmoteca Espagnol in Madrid, the Museum of The Moving Image in New York, and the Royal Cinematek in Brussels.

Born in Cairo in 1960, Atom Egoyan was raised in Victoria and then moved to Toronto to study International Relations and Classical Guitar. After graduating from Trinity College, where he wrote and directed plays for the Dramatic Society, Egoyan was chosen as one of the inaugural participants of the Playwrights Unit at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre.

Egoyan began making short films through The Hart House Film Board at The University of Toronto. His first feature film, Next of Kin, premièred at the Toronto Film Festival in 1984, and went on to win a Gold Ducat at the Mannheim Film Festival in Germany. His early features such as Family Viewing and Speaking Parts were similarly presented at festivals around the world, winning a FIPRESCI prize (Locarno, 1988), as well as a CICAE award in Berlin. Egoyan has a long association with the Cannes Film Festival, with most of his features being presented in Official Selection (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Felicia's Journey, Ararat, Where the Truth Lies, Adoration, The Captive) winning five major awards at this prestigious event.

Ararat, Egoyan's meditation on the Armenian Genocide of 1915, was distributed in over 30 countries and won several awards, including Best Film on Human Rights by The Political Film Society of Hollywood, and the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review in New York. Adoration won the Ecumenical Jury Award after premiering in Competition in Cannes, and Chloe was selected as Opening Night Premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. With three major prizes at Cannes, two Academy AwardŽ nominations, and unanimously positive reviews, The Sweet Hereafter is widely regarded as the most acclaimed English-Canadian film ever made. Devil's Knot, with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and also screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival and the Hamburg Film Festival. The Captive, starring Ryan Reynolds, Mireille Enos, Scott Speedman, and Rosario Dawson, was released to great box-office success. Remember, starring Christopher Plummer, won the Vittorio Veneto Film Festival Award at the Venice Film Festival, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and won Best Film and Best Actor at the Hanoi International Film Festival, the Cinecolor Audience Award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, a nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Italian Academy Awards (Donatello), as well as several other awards.

He has been knighted by the French Government, received State Honors from The Republic of Armenia, is a Companion of The Order of Canada, and has received ten Honourary Doctorates in Letters and Laws.

He has collaborated with such composers as Philip Glass for live music/projection works (Diaspora), Daniel Lanois (Tamboura), and Steve Reich (Bolex/Nexus), as well as co-composing two songs and playing guitar on Gordon Downie's solo album, Coke Machine Glow. His original works are in the permanent collection of the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in Montreal, the MUSAC Collection in Spain, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. As part of the Aldeburgh Festival in England, he collaborated on Nocturnal, an installation to mark Benjamin Britten's centenary and Julian Bream's commission of the seminal work for classical guitar by this great composer.

Egoyan is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, the Directors Guild of Canada, the Writers Guild of America, the Writers Guild of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. He currently lives in Toronto with actress Arsinée Khanjian.


It's the direction of Atom Egoyan that ultimately makes it all hang together. No one is better when dealing with a twisted landscape of the soul and that's what's on display here in abundance. He's able to let us see the darkness in Wotan's relationship with his daughter and feel the shiver of evil without ever making things too prosaically plain.
And he also understands how to find grandeur and beauty in this bizarre, fragmented world. The final benediction of torches that surround Brunhilde are sheer magic.

Richard Ouzounian, The Star, Review of Die Walküre with the Canadian Opera Company, 2015.

What comes out is an exploration of the human condition that's incredibly stark yet deeply sympathetic. Coupled with the COC's brilliant performance of the score and the powerfully introspective performances Egoyan drew from the singers the result is a Così that defines everything the opera can be.
That's a phenomenal achievement

Brian Hay, Review of Così fan tutte with the Canadian Opera Company, 2014


October 2017