Born in 1930 in Paris (France)
Jean-Luc Godard was born into a Franco-Swiss bourgeois family. He became a naturalised Swiss citizen during the Second World War. He began his studies in Lyon before returning to Paris in 1949, where he obtained a master's degree in Ethnology at the Sorbonne. It was during this period that he met François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer. With the latter two, he founded La Gazette du Cinéma, then became a critic for Arts and Cahiers du Cinéma.
In 1954, he took his first steps behind the camera with his first short film, Operation beton. It was not until 1959 that he made his first feature film, A bout de souffle (Breathless), a huge critical and public success and the flagship film of the Nouvelle Vague. This was the start of a series of films in which Godard rethought cinema by reinventing the narrative form: Une femme est une femme, Le Petit Soldat (censored because it dealt openly with the Algerian War, a taboo subject at the time), Les Carabiniers, Le Mépris, Pierrot le Fou, Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution and Masculin-Feminin. He has also taken part in collective films: Les Plus belles escroqueries du monde and Paris vu par....
May 68: Godard was an active militant and his cinema became a means of fighting the system (La Chinoise, Week-End). He advocated an idealistic cinema that would enable the proletariat to obtain the means of production and distribution. He then went abroad (New York, Canada, Cuba, Italy, Prague) where he started films that he never finished or that he refused to see broadcast (One American Movie, Communication(s), British Sounds, Lotte in Italia). The 70s were the years of video experimentation: Numero deux, Ici et ailleurs, Jean-Luc six fois deux -about and under communication.
In 1980, he returned to more mainstream cinema, attracting well-known actors. He was selected for the Cannes Film Festival three times: Sauve qui peut la vie (1980, with Isabelle Huppert and Jacques Dutronc), Passion (1982), Detective (1985 with Johnny Hallyday) and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Prénom Carmen (which revealed Maruschka Detmers). But his films continued to cause scandal: Je vous salue Marie was censored in France and around the world.
Godard returned to experimentation in the 90s with JLG/JLG, For Ever Mozart, Histoire(s) du cinéma (a filmed and personal vision of the history of cinema) and Eloge de l'amour, presented in competition on the Croisette in 2001. The filmmaker made his return three years later with Notre musique, a triptych about Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, presented in the Official Selection out of competition. This was Godard's eighth visit to Cannes.
At the beginning of the 21st century, he appeared in two films in which he played himself (Le Fantôme d'Henri Langlois by Jacques Richard (II) and Morceaux de conversations avec Jean-Luc Godard by Alain Fleischer), before making a comeback on the Croisette with his film Socialisme, selected in the 2010 "Un certain regard" section.
Now in his eighties, the filmmaker is a rarity on the film scene, but much less so in the aisles of the Cannes Festival. He directed 3-Désastres, one of the three segments of the enigmatic 3x3D (2012), which examines the perception of 3D, presented as the closing film of the 52nd Semaine de la Critique at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Thirteen years after Eloge de l'amour, Jean-Luc Godard returned to the Cannes competition in 2014 with Adieu au Langage, his sixth film to compete for the Palme d'Or. He won the Jury Prize ex-aequo with Mommy by Xavier Dolan. He returned to Cannes in 2018 with Le livre d'image, which won a Special Palme d'Or.