As one of the most provocative young directors in France, Mathieu Kassovitz has made a name for himself directing films notable for both the inflammatory subjects they explore and the degree of controversy they incite. Kassovitz's most celebrated feature, 1995's La Haine (Hate in the U.S.), generated both critical exaltation and a burst of resentful recognition for its portrayal of racial tensions in Paris. The violence of this film was magnified in Kassovitz's Assassins, a 1997 film that provoked both raves and rants for its unflinchingly graphic content.
Born in Paris on April 3, 1967, Kassovitz seemed destined for some sort of film career. The son of director Peter Kassovitz, Mathieu made his film debut in his father's Au Bout du Bout au Banc in 1981. The same year, he appeared in L'Année Prochaine....Si Tout Va Bien with Isabelle Adjani. Kassovitz made his directorial debut ten years later, with Cauchemar Blanc, but it was his 1993 Metisse (also known as Café au Lait) that first got him substantial attention. He also had a starring role in the film, which was notable for its poignant yet comic exploration of Parisian race relations, an exploration that would later be more brutally manifested in La Haine. Kassovitz subsequently ventured out as an actor in the 1994 documentary 3000 Scenarios Contre un Virus. The documentary, which was inspired by 3,000 ideas of French school children, consisted of 30 short films about the AIDS virus. It was a remarkable effort, one that Kassovitz followed with another acting turn in Regarde les Hommes Tomber in 1994. The film was a critical success and the adulation it received proved to be good preparation for Kassovitz's next project, La Haine (1995). The film was widely hailed as a masterpiece, winning a number of awards including a Best Director Award at Cannes and three French Academy of Cinema Awards, including Best Film.