Costa-Gavras’s path to filmmaking began when he dropped out of Paris-Sorbonne University to attend the Institute For Advanced Cinematographic Studies. There Gavras procured work as a second, third and sometimes fourth assistant director on French films directed by René Clément, Jacques Demy and, Henri Verneuil, among others. After writing a screenplay adaptation of the French novel Compartiment tueurs as an exercise, a producer read it and offered Gavras a shot at directing his first feature, 1965’s The Sleeping Car Murders.
Four years later, Gavras directed arguably his most well known film, Z
(1969), a political mystery thriller inspired by the real-life assassination and cover-up of a Greek politician. For his work on this film Gavras earned three Academy Award nominations; Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning the Best Foreign Film Award, as well as a DGA Award nomination. Gavras followed this with directing critically acclaimed politically-themed thrillers throughout the next four decades, including The Confession
(1982), Music Box
(1989) and Amen
. (2002). In 1983, Gavras won his second Academy Award for the screenplay of Missing
—his first English language film—as well as receiving a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination for his direction of the film.