Noted for the innovative structure of both his noirish, cerebral debut film Following (1998) and its follow-up, the equally unconventional and heady Memento (2000), London-born filmmaker Christopher Nolan has shown a unique talent for creating involving films containing concepts based on abstract breaks with conventional behavior and idealism. Dubbed meta-noir by critics at a loss for words to describe its psychologically demanding, high-concept yet low-key journey into the mind of a man seeking revenge but lacking the ability to create new memories, Memento became the basis of lively discussion and debate among critics and audiences hungering for something thoughtful among a flurry of countless computer-generated pseudo-thrills and all-too-familiar gross-out comedies.
Born in 1970 and making 8 mm films from the age of seven, Nolan studied English Literature at University College London, graduating to 16 mm through borrowing equipment from the college's film department to make short films in his spare time. Influenced early on by such books as Graham Swift's Waterland, Nolan became intrigued with the concept of juggling parallel timelines. Noting that this concept was much more prevalent and common in print than on film, he began to expand on the idea, eventually combining it with his fascination with the concept of breaking down personal barriers after his London flat was burglarized and he curiously speculated on the burglar's impression of himself and his life. Taking the concept of an unemployed writer who becomes obsessed with learning about strangers by following them and breaking into their apartments to study their lives, Nolan crafted Following. Nominated for numerous film festival awards and winning (among others) the Black and White Award at the Slamdance film festival, he began to look forward to his next production; even going so far as to ask the audience to donate money towards the production of Memento at the 1999 Hong Kong Film Festival.