One of the most remarkable modern American and international independent directors.
The life story of a director who tries to create a bridge between the European and Hollywood cinematography began in 1953 in a small industrial town of Arkon, near Cleveland. Although his father was a businessman connected to Goodyear Tyre company, he inherited his artstic roots and ambitions from his mother who before marriage worked as a journalist in Akron-Beacon Journal. Since his early days, Jim wanted to become a poet or a writer at least, so in 1970 he first enrolled to the School of Journalism at the Northwestern University, and later moved to the Columbia University where he graduated in English and American literature.
His mentors at the Columbia were David Shapiro and Kenneth Koch, important protagonists of the New York avantgarde poetry, thus Jarmusch firstly started with the writing of small fictional pieces. Japanese horror and James Bond movies which he grew up in Akron had a particular influence on his expression, but in all his later interviews, the famous directors particularly highlighted two titles . The Night of the Hunter by Charles Laughton and the B-category movies, Thunder Road. In the final semester of his studies Jarmusch visited Paris and through the Cinematheque Francaise archives met the international film heritage which he had only read about prior to this. He was taken by the Japanese Imamura,, Ozu, Mizoguchi, but also the European directors like Bresson and Dreyer.
Upon return to the USA, he noticed a positive change in his style of writing – texts were becoming more film-like, and he gained much in a visual expression too. Things became clear – the love for the film grew into all formats of hobbies, so he enrolled to the film department at the University of New York where he was accepted before all because of his quality essays. He soon reached the position of assistant director to Nicholas Ray, and he also cooperated with Wim Wenders on his documentary Lighting Over Water.
During that period, he befriended with the post-punk scene which was literally flowering in East Village. Apart from being a part of the inventory of the legendary Mudd Club, just as any other resident of New York, he has his own band – he starts singing and playing a synth in a band Del-Byzanteens. He was encouraged to film his first movie by Nicholas Ray (who died two weeks prior to Jarmusch entering the film waters), and the story says that he filmed his eight-minute debut Permanent Vacation (1979) from the scholarship which had to cover his school fees. The University did not embrace the film and despite the fact the film did not have a great influence, he had a number of followers in the underground film circles.
In 1981, Jarmusch started writing the first screen play for a short film The New World (which will later serve as a sample for a feature film Stranger Than Paradise), and the support was offered by his old acquaintances Wim Wanders and Chris Sievernich who gave him a forty-minute long film track. Although any other director would have gotten a maximum of a ten-minute film out of this, clever Jarmusch filmed the movie in a weekend, and by using the frames and other shots got a 32-minute film. The New World received a Jury Prize in Rrotterdam and Jarmusch only needed a producer and cash to film a feature black and white version, Stranger Than Paradise.
In 1984, the same title was shown in Cannes and the new director received Camera d’Or (with his friend Wenders receiving the Palm d’Or). Jarmusch followed a similar style, watching American trash/pop culture through the eyes of a stranger, in his next piece of work Down by Law (1986) where his friend musician John Lurie acts again (he also acted in The New World and in Stranger Than Paradise), helped by the singer Tom Waits and brilliant Robert Benignie. He still cherishes his neo-noir expression and an interest for those at the margins of a society, a complete contrast to the trendy ‘American dream’.
His view of America he showed through three vignettes Mystery Train (1989) which reinforced his image as the leading independent director (again the prize at Cannes), although he was more appreciated in Europe than in his homeland the USA. The influence of a short form is particularly visible in his film Night On Earth (1991) which combines stories of people who are driven in a taxi in five cities of the world, while Dead Man is the only one which could be put into a category – although it is on the road as others, it can be categorised into the western genre.
His most commercial title is considered to be Ghost Dog: A Way of the Samurai (1999), which another music name is related to, that of The Rza, the founder andproducer of a rap band The Wu-Tang Clan.
Jarmusch is known by the fact that he avoids large studios (although he cooperates with famous actors), he always writes the scenarios for his films, and sometimes he himself acts in films of other directors. His trademark makes a stand-still camera and panoramic American landscapes, and very often his actors are made up of musicians (who are most often his friends). Very rarely he discloses details of his films and new projects to the public, and to date, he has filmed several shots on the topic Coffee and Cigarettes which he plans to do more of in the future.
Only Loves Left Alive (in production)
2009 The Limits of Control
2005 Broken Flowers
2003 Kava i cigarete
2002 Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (segment "Int. Trailer Night")
1999 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
1997 Year of the Horse (documentary)
1995 Coffee and Cigarettes III (short)
1995 Dead Man
1991 Night on Earth
1990 Red Hot and Blue (TV movie) (segment "It's All Right With Me")
1989 Mystery Train
1989 Coffee and Cigarettes II (short)
1986 Down by Law
1986 Coffee and Cigarettes (short)
1984 Stranger Than Paradise
1983 Stranger Than Paradise (short)
1980 Permanent Vacation
- Amanda Awards, Norway 1987 Won Amanda Best Foreign Feature Film for: Down by Law (1986).
- Bodil Awards2006 Nominated Best American Film for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- 1988 BodilBest Non-European Film for: Down by Law (1986).
- Cambridge Film Festival 2005 Audience Award Best Film for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- Camerimage 1998 Special Award Best Independent Duo: Director – Cinematographer shared with: Robby Müller
- Cannes Film Festival:
Nominated Palme d'Or for: Broken Flowers (2005).
Nominated Palme d'Or for: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999).
Nominated Palme d'Or for: Dead Man (1995).
Won Palme d'Or - Best Short Film for: Coffee and Cigarettes III (1995).
Won Best Artistic Contribution for: Mystery Train (1989).
Nominated Palme d'Or for: Mystery Train (1989).
Nominated Palme d'Orfor: Down by Law (1986).
Won Golden Camera for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Czech Lions 2006 Won Czech Lion Best Foreign Language Film for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- César Awards, France 2000 Nominated César Best Foreign Film for: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999).
- European Film Awards 2005
- Nominated Screen International Award for: Broken Flowers (2005). USA.
- 1996 Won Screen International Awardfor: Dead Man (1995). USA.
- Gotham Awards 2005 WonTribute Award
- Hamburg Film Festival 1999 Won Douglas Sirk Award
- Independent Spirit Awards
2001 Nominated Independent Spirit Award Best Feature for: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999). Shared with: Richard Guay
1997 Nominated Independent Spirit Award Best Screenplay for: Dead Man(1995).
1990 Nominated Independent Spirit Award Best Directorfor: Mystery Train (1989).
Best Screenplay for: Mystery Train (1989).
1987 Nominated Independent Spirit Award Best Director for: Down by Law (1986).
- Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists 2006 Nominated Silver Ribbon Best Foreign Director for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- Kinema Junpo Awards1987 Won Kinema Junpo Award Best Foreign Language Film for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Locarno International Film Festival 1984 Won Golden Leopard for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film festival 1980 Won Josef von Sternberg Award for: Permanent Vacation (1980).
- National Society of Film Critics Awards,USA 1997 3rd place NSFC Award Best Director for: Dead Man (1995).
- Online Film Critics Society Awards 2006 Nominated OFCS Award Best Screenplay, Original for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- Provincetown International Film Festival 2004
- Filmmaker on the Edge Award Robert Festival 2006
- Nominated RobertBest American Film for: Broken Flowers (2005).
- 1988 Won Robert Best Foreign Film for: Down by Law (1986).
- Rotterdam International Film Festival 1983 KNF Award for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Sundance Film Festival 1985 Special Jury Prize Dramatic for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Nominated Grand Jury Prize Dramatic for: Stranger Than Paradise (1984).
- Taos Talking Picture Festival 1996 Storyteller Award
- Warsaw International Film Festival 1993 Audience Award for: Coffee and Cigarettes III (1995).
Feature Film Workshop 1 & 2