German helmer Baran Bo Odar (“Bo” to friends) stood out from this year’s fest fare with his gripping sophomore feature “The Silence” and its themes of corrupted innocence and the intrinsic evil that all humans share. The crime drama revolves around the case of a missing girl who vanishes in the same area where a girl was killed 23 years before.

The loss of innocence through a heinous act is a theme that Odar also explored in “Under the Sun,” his 2006 graduation film, a coming-of-age story about a boy whose actions result in great tragedy. “I think the biggest impact on me was reading ‘Crime and Punishment’ when I was 12,” he says.

While Odar admits he may have been too young for the story at the time, he was nevertheless fascinated — as well as frightened — by the tale of murder and guilt and the realization that the potential for evil is something all people share. Indeed, it’s become a major theme in his works and in the stories that attract him, including all-time favorites “Blade Runner” and “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Odar saw the David Lean epic at the age of 14 and was strongly impacted by the scene when Lawrence returns from battle and confesses to the general that he is troubled not because he has killed, but rather because he so enjoyed killing.

“I really think everyone has something good inside but also something evil, and it’s part of us,” Odar explains. “To control that, that’s humanity. Some people cannot control it or something happens and you lose control and all of a sudden you’re a monster. There are no monsters in the world, though, only human beings who do monstrous things.”

Odar is currently working on “The Hunt,” an English-language action-thriller set in Boston. The story follows the kidnapping of a spoiled rich kid who manages to escape his captors and run for his life in what becomes a primal hunt through the forest. Odar is in talks with U.S. producers and hopes to shoot the pic later this year. Also in the works is the German-language “A Dark Place,” which Odar describes as “Stand by Me” meets “The Sixth Sense.”

Age: 32
Homebase: Berlin, Germany
Inspired by: Terrence Malick, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, David Fincher. “They are on this very thin line that I’m also trying to walk: to reach a big audience, tell a blockbuster story but with meaning and depth and also with some edginess.”
Reps: Agent: David Flynn, United Talent Agency

10 Directors to Watch
Richard Ayoade | Daniel Espinosa | Ed Gass-Donnelly | Elgin James | Patrick Lussier | Baran Bo Odar | Andre Ovredal | Denis Villeneuve | Juanita Wilson | Jason Winer