Athina Rachel Tsangari holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and Drama from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Greece. Her introduction to cinema came by a happy accident, with a small role in Richard Linklater's seminal film Slacker (1991), the summer before she entered NUY's Performance Studies M.A. program. After her graduation, she moved to Austin to study film directing.
Her first short film Fit was a finalist at the Student Academy Awards. Her M.F.A. thesis feature at the University of Texas at Austin The Slow Business of Going (2001), a lo-fi-sci-fi road movie, starring Lizzie Martinez, was shot with a skeleton crew in hotel rooms in nine cities around the world. The 2002 Village Voice Critics Poll listed it as one of the year's "best first films," it garnered several directing awards, and it now belongs in MoMA's permanent film collection.
While a film student, and later a film lecturer at UT Austin, she co-founded and was the artistic director of the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, which ran for ten years (1997-2007) pioneering experimental cinema and sonic arts. She was invited to serve as the projections designer and video director for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening & Closing Ceremonies. She has been working as a projections designer ever since, in parallel with her film work. In 2009, she created Reflections, a series of mega-scale HD projections in situ, commissioned for the inauguration of the Bernard Tschumi-designed Acropolis Museum in Athens.
Her sophomore feature Attenberg (2010) premiered in main competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress for its lead Ariane Labed, and went on to win 13 best film/directing awards at festivals worldwide. It was Greece's Best Foreign Language Film submission to the 2012 Academy Awards, and runner-up for the Lux prize for Best European film.
She founded Haos Film in 2004, a filmmaker-run production & post-production studio based in Athens. Among her credits as a producer are three films directed by Yorgos Lanthimos Kinetta (2005), Dogtooth (Un Certain Regard prize winner at Cannes 2009, finalist for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2010 Academy Awards), and Alps (2011 Venice FF, Osella Award for Best Screenplay). She is a co-producer on Richard Linklater's Before Midnight (2013, shot in Messinia, Greece) where she also appeared in the role of Ariadni.
The Capsule (2012), in collaboration with Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska, commissioned by the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art as both a film and an installation, premiered at dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, followed by the Locarno, Toronto and Sundance film festivals to critical acclaim.
She was one of seventy directors invited by the Venice Film Festival to participate in the project Venezia 70 - Future Reloaded, for which she made the short science fiction film 24 Frames Per Century (2013). Also in 2013, she directed two episodes of the Canal+/ ZDF/ Netflix historical drama series Borgia, executive produced by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. She served as a jury member at the 2013 Berlinale international competition, headed by jury president Wong Kar Wai. She also served as a creative advisor at the 2012 and 2014 Sundance Feature Film Program Directing Lab, in Utah.
She is currently in post-production for her new feature Chevalier, a buddy comedy taking place on a yacht astray in the Aegean Sea. The script for her upcoming sci-fi "screwball tragedy"Duncharon (co-written with her longtime collaborator and Haos Film partner Matt Johnson) was awarded the "ARTE France Cinéma" Award for best European project in development, at Rotterdam IFF's CineMart.
Image: Still from 24 Frames Per Century, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2013. 2 min., 35 mm. Commissioned by the Venice Film Festival for its 70th Anniversary Program Cinema Reloaded.