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 (1970), Missing (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.