29 september, 1970
Writer, Director, Producer. Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970. Aged 8 he moved to New York with his parents where he lived out his teenage years. New York quickly became his city and soon began to shape Nicolas's future. At 17, Nicolas moved back to his native Copenhagen to complete his Gymnasium (High School) Education. Upon his school graduation, he swiftly flew back to New York where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. However, this education was cut short when Nicolas threw a desk at a classroom wall and was expelled from the Academy. Consequently, he applied to the Danish Film School and was readily accepted. This education too was to be short-lived though as one month prior to the start of term Nicolas dropped out. A short film Nicolas had written, directed and starred in was aired on an obscure cable TV channel and lead to the offer of a lifetime. Nicolas was spotted and offered 3.2 million kroners to turn the short into a feature. At only 24, Nicolas had written and directed the extremely violent and uncompromising, Pusher (1996).
Pusher became a cult phenomenon and won Nicolas instant international critical acclaim. The success of his debut spurred him to push the boundaries of his creative filmmaking further, resulting in the close-to-the-edge and intricately gritty Bleeder (1999). Highly stylized and focused on introverted reactions to outward situations, this film was a marking point for the shaping of Nicolas's future career. The movie was selected for the 1999 Venice International Film Festival as well as winning the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize in Sarajevo.
Nicolas's third feature, the much-anticipated Fear X (2003) was also his first foray into English language movies. Starring the award-winning actor John Turturro, Fear X received its world premiere at Sundance Film festival delighting fans and critics alike. Following the success of Fear X, Nicolas surprisingly decided to revisit Pusher due to the movie's growing cult following in both its homeland and abroad. In just two years he managed to write, direct and produce the two sequels. Pusher II (2004) and Pusher 3 (2005) sealed the box and success of the internationally renowned Pusher Trilogy. In 2005 Toronto Film Festival held a PUSHER retrospective showing all three features cementing its worldwide phenomenon.
In 2006 Nicolas embarked on a second English language feature called Valhalla Rising (2009), inspired by a story his mother read to him aged five about a father and son who embark on a trip to the moon. Not recalling the ending of this story has been a long time fascination of Nicolas's with the unknown. During the pre-production on Valhalla Rising, his long time collaborator and friend , Rupert Preston, urged him into accepting an offer to write and direct Bronson (2009), an ultra-violent, surreal, and escapist film following the real life landmarks and self-entrapment of Britain's most notorious criminal, Charles Bronson.
Before its cinematic release Bronson was making waves inside and outside the film industry. Sundance Film Festival 2009 selected the blistering film for its World Cinema Dramatic Competition and it soon became the talk of the festival. With such a prestigious premier, Bronson went on to be selected for other major international film festivals and reap strong box office rewards. But, even with such a buzz surrounding the film no one could predict how the British press would bite at Bronson's bit. The content was close to the knuckle, the subject matter controversial but Nicolas's take on this was even more inspired leading him to be labelled by the British media as the next great European auteur. With such critical acclaim, Nicolas's reputation as a producer, writer and director was solidly reaffirmed.
Nicolas and his wife Liv Corfixen were the subjects of an acclaimed documentary, Gambler, which premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2005. In addition, Nicolas has already received two lifetime achievement awards (one from Taipei International Film festival in 2006 and the second from Valencia International Film Festival in 2007) and was the winner of the Emerging Master Award from the Philadelphia International Film Festival 2005.