Best autobiographical films by great filmmakers

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It takes a lot of courage for an artist to delve into their personal life and create something purely autobiographical for the world to see. In the case of cinema, it gives filmmakers a chance to look back on their lives through a creative lens and reminisce about their long-lost days. Indeed, whether it is a question of remembering with tenderness their youth or of approaching instructive and often difficult moments of their past, the directors will use the autobiographical film, not as a form of self-indulgence or vanity, but as unearthing and sharing their stories in a way that is theirs.


The autobiographical genre has existed since the beginnings of cinema. However, recent years have seen something of a boom, with Kenneth Branagh at the helmBelfast last year (which immersed in his childhood) and, this year, Steven Spielberg The Fabelmans. Here we take a look at the best autobiographical movies ever released.

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seven Remembrance — Joanna Hogg (2019)

Written and directed by British filmmaker Joanna Hogg, Memory is a semi-autobiographical drama film starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke and Tilda Swinton. The plot revolves around young film student Julie, who falls in love with wealthy office worker Anthony, but their toxic relationship ends up affecting her college studies. It turns out that Anthony is addicted to heroin, had questionable relationships with three other young girls and does not hesitate to break into Julie’s apartment. The film received critical acclaim upon its release at the Sundance Film Festival. Despite the excellent acting, stunning cinematography, and precise editing, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea as the plot can dry up throughout its runtime.

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6 The Squid and the Whale – Noah Baumbach (2005)

The squid and the whale is a semi-autobiographical independent comedy-drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The filmmaker was one of the few screenwriters to win “The Big Four” critics’ awards with this film in Super 16 mm. The plot centers on two Brooklyn boys struggling with their parents’ divorce in 1986. Although the arrogant novelist father and the unfaithful writer mother agree to share custody, their parenting is more combative than before. Baumbach is known to deal with similar themes in some of his other films, such as the failed marriages of budding artists, but you can feel how painfully realistic this one is. While the other films focus on adults, The squid and the whale pays more attention to how divorces affect children and their mental state.

5 Rome — Alfonso Cuaron (2018)

Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Rome is once again a semi-autobiographical drama film starring Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira in the lead roles. Not only did Cuarón also produce, shoot, and co-edit the film himself, but the plot is also based on his own upbringing in Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in Mexico City. Set in 1970 and 1971, the film follows a Mixteco housekeeper living in an upper-class family. What sets this film apart, as highlighted Film school rejections, is its monochromatic color and minimalist shots scattered throughout the film. The governess (inspired by Cuarón’s) is treated as part of the Mexican family, even when she announces her sudden pregnancy. It illustrates class differences as a salient feature of Mexican culture and promotes that there is more to the life of a Hispanic than being a maid and taking care of your children.

4 American Graffiti – George Lucas (1973)

The first film ever produced by Lucasfilm, american graffiti is a coming-of-age comedy-drama directed by George Lucas and stars Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat and many more. Set in 1962, the film is a study of cruising and early rock ‘n roll, popular in Lucas’ teenage years. At the center of the film are various teenagers and their one-night stands, which were inspired by Lucas’ own rebellious days. Its serious soundtrack, in addition to a grim sense of humor and its single day length, hits differently and more strongly than other films. Universal Pictures was the only one to accept Lucas’ pitch and agree to produce the film. Well, shame on those who passed, seen how american graffiti became one of the highest-grossing films ever made.

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3 Minari — Lee Isaac Chung (2020)

Directed and written by Lee Isaac Chung, minari is a semi-autobiographical drama film starring Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, and Alan Kim in the lead roles. Based on Lee’s own upbringing, the plot is set in the 1980s and follows a family of South Korean immigrants as they move to Arkansas to live on a farm and start their own “American Dream”. The Yi family wants to grow their own Korean produce and start their own family business, but not everything is as simple as it seems. minari explores the immigrant experience, the difficulties of moving to a sparsely populated place, meeting new people, the strain it can put on marriage, what it means to sacrifice for family, and the vague concept of the American dream.

2 Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig (2017)

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig in her solo directorial debut, lady bird is a coming-of-age comedy-drama starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in the lead roles. Inspired by Gerwig’s teenage years, the film follows a young girl – who goes by the name “Lady Bird” – who is a high school student in 2002 with creative aspirations, but has a strained relationship with her mother, who doesn’t understand her needs. . The city of Sacramento plays a huge role in the film as Lady Bird’s dream is to move somewhere with culture rather than a stagnant place where nothing ever happens. However, more importantly, it portrays the painful truth of some mothers who love their daughters out of duty rather than loving them as human beings.

1 The 400 Blows – François Truffaut (1959)

Like François Truffaut’s first film, The 400 blows is one of the defining coming-of-age drama films of the French New Wave. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays a semi-autobiographical Truffaut character called Antoine Doinel, a rebellious Parisian boy who seeks understanding from his teachers and parents due to his rebellious nature. More than 60 years after its release, The 400 blows is still considered one of the best French shows in history. It sheds light on the misunderstood youth of the 1950s and 60s in France, while rejecting traditional embodiments. It won Truffaut the Best Director award at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival – and rightly so, as it helped lay the foundations for the new French cinema.

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