Characterizing themselves as "one person with four eyes," Belgian filmmaker Luc Dardenne and his older brother Jean-Pierre rose to the forefront of international art cinema in the 1990s with such uncompromising, socially aware dramas as La Promesse (1996) and Rosetta (1999), depicting life in Belgium's depressed industrial region near Liège on the Meuse River.
Born in Awirs, Dardenne grew up in a middle-class family in the working-class steel town Seraing. With schools closed during strikes, Dardenne was exposed to the upheavals of the 1960s labor movement during his formative years. While still in school, Dardenne frequently visited his older sibling in Brussels, where Jean-Pierre was studying acting under playwright Armand Gatti. Gatti, who often used nonprofessional actors, invited Luc to join his acting troupe. Though he got his degree in philosophy in the early '70s, Luc was inspired by his time with Gatti to explore the creative and political possibilities of film and video with his brother. Aiming to chronicle the social changes happening around them, Luc and Jean-Pierre returned to their home region and worked for several months in a cement factory to earn money for video equipment.