Director to Watch: Mia Hansen-Love

French native says film is 'the right place to be' for her

At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Mia Hansen-Love’s “Father of My Children” — a beautifully restrained portrait of a troubled Paris-based film producer and his wife and daughters — won a Special Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard, bolstering her reputation as one of France’s leading young filmmakers.

Her 2007 debut, “All Is Forgiven,” was hailed for its humanistic approach and tied for the Prix Louis Delluc for best first film.

Producer David Thion, who backed the writer-director’s two features, singles out Hansen-Love for her “inspiration, clarity of mind and maturity at every stage of the development of the films.”

The French native (her father is half-Danish) never intended to be a filmmaker. Her parents were philosophy teachers and she studied theater.

But after acting in Olivier Assayas’ 1998 “Late August, Early September,” she discovered her calling.

It was metaphysical,” she says. “More than the acting was the sense that cinema has to do with art and reality, that you experience the fiction through your own body. That was a big revelation for me.”

She studied filmmaking by writing articles for Gallic magazine Cahiers du Cinema (helmer Jacques Doillon was one of her subjects), and at 21, she directed her first short, about a father rationalizing his divorce to his two daughters. “I was always very shy,” she says, “but when I was on the set, I immediately felt it was the right place for me to be.”

Hansen-Love also credits her confidence to the support she received from Hubert Balsan, the late French producer whose story inspired “Father of My Children,” and Assayas, with whom she lives and has had a child. While the two work independently of each other, she says Assayas’ faith in her “helped me find my way.”

Next summer, she hopes to shoot her third feature, “L’amour de jeunesse,” with unknown young actors. While she’d like to make a film with American stars someday, she not planning to rush off to Hollywood. “I will never make films in the U.S. just because it’s cool,” she says. “I want to be faithful to who I am.”

VITAL STATS

AGE: 28


HOMEBASE:
Paris


INSPIRED BY:
Jacques Doillon, Eric Rohmer, Francois Truffaut, Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, Andre Techine; Luc Bresson’s “Lancelot du Lac” and Michael Mann’s “Heat”

REPS: Agent: Francois Samuelson (Intertalent)

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