Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras

12.02.1933, Loutra-Iraias, Greece


Costa-Gavras, originally Constantin Gavras, is a French director and screenwriter born in Greece. As a director he became famous for his politically engaged films as politics determined his life from his early age. During WW II his father was a member of the Greek resistance and fought the Nazis. After the war in the new regime his father was known as a Communist which prevented Costa-Gavras to move to the US where he wanted to study film. Instead of the US in 1951 he moved from Athens to Paris and began studying law. In 1956 he quit law and started studying film at the French National Film School (IDHEC). Afterwards he worked as assistant director to Henri Verneuil, Jacques Demy and René Clément. He made his directing debut with The Sleeping Car Murders (Compartiment tueurs, 1965). He won international acclaim and fame with the political thriller Z (1969) that won an Oscar and the Golden Globe as Best Foreign Film as well as the jury’s award in Cannes in 1970. He continued to fight political oppression in his films The Confession (L' aveu, 1969), State of Siege (État de siege, 1973), Special Section (Section spéciale, 1975). In 1982 he made his first film in American production Missing (1982), starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. Also in America he made Betrayed (1988) and Music Box (1989), after which he returned to European productions and worked on several film omnibuses. In 1997, again in America, he directed the well-known film Mad City (1997) starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta. He attracted great attention with his film Eyewitness (Amen, 2002) in which he questioned the connection between the Vatican and Nazism. His last film so far is the black comedy The Ax (Le couperet, 2005).


Le couperet (2005)
Amen (2002)
Mad City (1997)
Lumiere et compagnie (1995) (segment)
A propos de Nice, la suite (1995) (segment Les Kankobals)
La petite apocalypse (1993)
Contre l'oubli (1991) (segment Pour Kim Song-man, Corée)
Music Box (1989)
Betrayed (1988)
Conseil de famille (1986)
Hanna K. (1983)
Missing (1982)
Clair de femme (1979)
Section spéciale (1975)
État de siege (1972)
L' aveu (1970)
Z (1969)
Un homme de trop (1967)
Compartiment tueurs (1965)

Films by this director

The Sleeping Car Murders

(Compartiment tueurs, 1965)

Directed by: Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jean Tournier

A train leaves from Marseilles and goes to Paris. Upon arrival to its destination a dead girl is found in one of the compartments. The police inspector has five suspects but as time goes by three of them get murdered as well. The remaining two have to find the murderer on their own if they want to stay alive.

b/w, 95 min



Directed by: Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras
PHOTOGRAPHY: Raoul Coutard

An assassin tries to murder a peace activist while the police simply watch the incident without intervening. The assassins are government sanctioned right-wing activists who are trying to stop a lawsuit that has been filed by a photo reporter after he found a witness and a judge willing to take part in it. In the meantime there is a military coup in the country. The film is based on legal transcripts from 1963 when a Greek pacifist leader Gregoris Lambrakis was allegedly murdered by the govern...

color, 121 min

State of Siege

(État de siege, 1972)

Directed by: Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras
PHOTOGRAPHY: Pierre-William Glenn

This film is based on a true story and portrays the kidnapping of an American official in Uruguay in 1970s. The official works for the American Agency for International Development but his real task is to teach the Uruguayan police how to use torture techniques on their political prisoners. His kidnappers are a group of leftist revolutionaries called Tupamaro.

color, 115 min


(Clair de femme, 1979)

Directed by: Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ricardo Aronovich

Michel’s wife is terminally ill. Michel and she have agreed that she will take her life on a certain day which soon arrives. Afterwards, Michel should leave France but he cannot bring himself to do it. By chance he meets Lydia, a woman close to his age who lost her daughter a few years ago in a car accident that also left her husband with severe brain damage.

color, 105 min



Directed by: Costa-Gavras Costa-Gavras
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ricardo Aronovich

The film was inspired by the story of Charles Horman, an American journalist who went missing during general Pinochet’s bloody coup in Chile in 1973. His father and wife travel to Latin America to find him but instead of hospitality they face a wall of silence and cover-ups.

color, 122 min
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