Born in Faridpur in what is now Bangladesh, Mrinal Sen studied Science in Calcutta and then joined the Communist Party of India. His early films were influenced by Marxist ideals. He then experimented with themes of marriage in urban middle-class milieus and the daily grind of living in Calcutta with its social, economic and political unrest in the Calcutta trilogy: Interview (1970), Calcutta 71 (1972), and Pedestrian (Padatik, 1973).
With One Day Every Day (Ek Din Pratidin, 1979) and The Case is Shut (Kharij, 1982), Sen entered the most creative phase of his career, exploring middle-class morality and the small oppressions of everyday life. In the early 80s, Sen, by now a national figure, began to show a contemplative side, and his films also become reflections on filmmaking.
He has made films in Bengali, Oriya and Telugu, and Hindi. His Bhuvan Shome is a landmark in modern Indian cinema, and is considered the precusor to what was called the 'New Indian Cinema'. His most recent film is This My Land (Amar Bhuvan, 2000).
One of the leading filmmakers in the Philippines today, Diaz-Abaya studied film at the London International Film School. She has consistently worked for the establishment of democracy in her country and her early films, Brutal, Of the Flesh and Baby Tsina were sharp condemnations of the oppressive social system of the Marcos era.
During the Aquino years, she left cinema for television, making programmes on social and political issues. She returned to cinema in 1995, shooting several films, including her masterpiece Jose Rizal on the Philippines' national hero from the perspective of an artist and human being. Her films blend entertainment, social consciousness and ethnic awareness.
Born in 1961 in Kyungbook Province, South Korea, Park Ki-Yong graduated from the Seoul Institute for the Arts and the Korean Academy of Film Arts, majoring in filmmaking. He worked as assistant director on feature films, TV commercials and documentaries and has so far produced three features.
Motel Cactus (1997), his first feature as director won the New Currents award at Pusan, a Special Mention by the FIPRESCI jury at Rotterdam and the Jury award at Fribourg. Camel(s) (2001) won the Grand Prize and Best Script Award at Fribourg.
Born in 1962, Prasanna Vithanage became involved in theatre on leaving school. He translated and directed Bernard Shaw's The Arms and The Man in 1986, and Dario's Fo's Raspberries and Trumpets in 1991.
In 1992 he directed his first feature Ice on Fire (Sisila Gini Gani), which won nine awards in Sri Lanka. His other features, Dark Night of the Soul (Anantha Rathriya, 1996), Walls Within (Pawuru Walalu 1997) and Death on a Full Moon Day (Purahanda Kaluwara, 1997) have also been award-winners at many festivals, including the Grand Prix at Amiens for the latter film. Vithanage has just completed August Sun (Ira Madiyama).
A graduate of Tehran University's Faculty of Arts, Fatemeh Motamed-Aria began her career in theatre before moving to cinema. She has won two Best Actress Awards (Once and For All and The Spouse) and two Best Actress in a Supporting Role Awards (The Wilderness and The Travellers) at the Fajr International Film Festival, apart from an international award for her role in Maternal Love.
Recently, she has moved to directing, making documentaries on a wide variety of subjects. Motamed-Aria, who has been on various international juries for both cinema and theatre, has been named Best Actress in the last 20 years by the Iranian film critics.