The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Belgian Film Directors. The pantheon dataset contains 1,580 Film Directors, 8 of which were born in Belgium. This makes Belgium the birth place of the 31st most number of Film Directors behind Mexico and Switzerland.

Top 8

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the most legendary Belgian Film Directors of all time. This list of famous Belgian Film Directors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity.

Photo of Agnès Varda

1. Agnès Varda (1928 - 2019)

With an HPI of 75.41, Agnès Varda is the most famous Belgian Film Director.  Her biography has been translated into 47 different languages on wikipedia.

Agnès Varda (French: [aɲɛs vaʁda]; born Arlette Varda, 30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019) was a Belgian-born French film director, screenwriter, photographer, and artist. Her pioneering work was central to the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her films focused on achieving documentary realism, addressing women's issues, and other social commentary, with a distinctive experimental style.Varda's work employed location shooting in an era when the limitations of sound technology made it easier and more common to film indoors, with constructed sets and painted backdrops of landscapes, rather than outdoors, on location. Her use of non-professional actors was also unconventional for 1950s French cinema. Varda's feature film debut was La Pointe Courte (1955), followed by Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), one of her most notable film narrative films, Vagabond (1985), and Kung Fu Master (1988). Varda was also known for her work as a documentarian with such works as Black Panthers (1968), The Gleaners and I (2000), The Beaches of Agnès (2008), Faces Places (2017), and her final film, Varda by Agnès (2019). Director Martin Scorsese described Varda as "one of the Gods of Cinema". Among several other accolades, Varda received an Honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, an Academy Honorary Award, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Varda is the only female director to be feted with an Honorary Oscar.

Photo of Chantal Akerman

2. Chantal Akerman (1950 - 2015)

With an HPI of 65.96, Chantal Akerman is the 2nd most famous Belgian Film Director.  Her biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Chantal Anne Akerman (French: [ʃɑ̃tal akɛʁman]; 6 June 1950 – 5 October 2015) was a Belgian film director, screenwriter, artist, and film professor at the City College of New York. She is best known for Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which The New York Times called a "masterpiece". According to film scholar Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Akerman's influence on feminist and avant-garde cinema is substantial.

Photo of Jaco Van Dormael

3. Jaco Van Dormael (1957 - )

With an HPI of 63.12, Jaco Van Dormael is the 3rd most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Jaco Van Dormael (born 9 February 1957) is a Belgian film director, screenwriter and playwright. His films especially focus on a respectful and sympathetic portrayal of people with mental and physical disabilities. Van Dormael spent his childhood travelling around Europe, before going on to study filmmaking at the INSAS in Brussels, where he wrote and directed his first short film, Maedeli la brèche (1981), which received the Honorary Foreign Film Award at the Student Academy Awards. Van Dormael's feature debut, Toto le héros (1991), won the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Five years later, Le huitième jour (1996) played at Cannes, where his two leading actors, Daniel Auteuil and Pascal Duquenne, were jointly awarded the prize for Best Actor. His third feature film, Mr. Nobody (2009), won six Magritte Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.

Photo of André Delvaux

4. André Delvaux (1926 - 2002)

With an HPI of 62.98, André Delvaux is the 4th most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

André, Baron Delvaux (French: [dɛlvo]; 21 March 1926 – 4 October 2002) was a Belgian film director and widely regarded as the founder of the Belgian national cinema. Born in Heverlee, he died in Valencia, Spain after giving a speech at the World Arts Meeting. He received the Magritte Honorary Award at the Magritte Awards 2011.

Photo of Raoul Servais

5. Raoul Servais (1928 - )

With an HPI of 61.44, Raoul Servais is the 5th most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Raoul Servais (born 1 May 1928) is a Belgian filmmaker, animator, and comics artist. He is a fundamental figure of the Belgian animation scene, as well as the founder of the animation faculty of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK). He was born in Ostend. Servais was awarded with Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Festival of Animated Film - Animafest Zagreb in 2016. He is best known for the 1979 animated film Harpya. At the 9th Magritte Awards, Servais received an Honorary Magritte Award from the Académie André Delvaux.

Photo of Ulu Grosbard

6. Ulu Grosbard (1929 - 2012)

With an HPI of 59.24, Ulu Grosbard is the 6th most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Israel "Ulu" Grosbard (9 January 1929 – 19 March 2012) was a Belgian-born, naturalized American theatre and film director and film producer.

Photo of Benoît Lamy

7. Benoît Lamy (1945 - 2008)

With an HPI of 54.28, Benoît Lamy is the 7th most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Benoît Lamy (19 September 1945 – 15 April 2008) was a Belgian film director, best known for his picture Home Sweet Home (1973).

Photo of Felix van Groeningen

8. Felix van Groeningen (1977 - )

With an HPI of 51.05, Felix van Groeningen is the 8th most famous Belgian Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Felix van Groeningen (born 1 November 1977) is a Belgian film director and screenwriter. He is known for The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) and Belgica (2016), with the former being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards. He made his English-language debut with the biographical drama Beautiful Boy (2018).

Pantheon has 8 people classified as film directors born between 1926 and 1977. Of these 8, 3 (37.50%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living film directors include Jaco Van Dormael, Raoul Servais, and Felix van Groeningen. The most famous deceased film directors include Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, and André Delvaux. As of October 2020, 4 new film directors have been added to Pantheon including Raoul Servais, Ulu Grosbard, and Benoît Lamy.

Living Film Directors

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Deceased Film Directors

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Newly Added Film Directors (2020)

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Which Film Directors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 5 most globally memorable Film Directors since 1700.