With his trademark shock of white hair and ultra-cool rock star persona, Jim Jarmusch is the archetypal auteur of American independent film. Steadfastly resisting the sirens of Hollywood, Jarmusch has fashioned stylish, worldly, and thoroughly hip movies that have been the toast of the international film circuit.
Born on January 22, 1953, in Akron, OH, Jarmusch was the son of a former film critic for the Akron Beacon Journal. As a child, he spent much of his time watching B-movie triple features. After graduating from high school in 1971, he ended up in New York before venturing to Paris one summer on an exchange program. He loved the place so much that he stayed there for a year, soaking up French culture, literature, and particularly films, spending much of his time going to the cinématheque instead of to classes. At that time, the hallowed French New Wave movement was still a recent memory and such luminaries as François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard were still regularly making movies. Upon his return to New York, Jarmusch transferred to Columbia University, where, though he eventually received a degree in English literature, his love of film continued to inspire him. With no film experience, he was accepted into New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and soon found himself a teaching assistant to legendary maverick filmmaker Nicholas Ray. Ray helped him get funding for his thesis project, Permanent Vacation (1980). Though the film was later released to critical acclaim, his professors were underwhelmed by his final project and Jarmusch never got a degree from N.Y.U.