15th September 1894 – 12th February 1979
French filmmaker and writer. Son of French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir, he worked as a ceramist, a magazine writer and journalist, before turning to filmmaking in 1924 after he was injured during World War I. Among his early works that won critical acclaim were: La Chien (1931), Night at the Crossroads (1932) and The Human Beast (1939). In 1941, during the Nazi occupation of France, he moved to the USA and worked in Hollywood.
In the late 1940s, he decided to make a film on Rumer Godden’s book on Bengal titled The River (1951). He invited Rumer to fly to America and get involved in writing the film script. He also sought Rumer’s assistance in selecting suitable actors and during the shooting of the film in India when it was begun towards the end of the year 1949. He and his filmmaking, impacted on a number of Indians who felt drawn towards him during the filming of The River. Some, notably Satyajit Ray and others, who assisted him during the shooting of the film, went on to make important contributions to Indian cinema in diverse ways.
In a career that spanned half a century, he made more than 30 films. His cinema was compared to his father’s impressionistic paintings and the cinematic excellence of his films was considered remarkable because of his concentrating not on the beauty of specific images and scenes, but on their overall aestheticism and impact. His work won him wide recognition. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1975 and was made an officer of France’s Legion of Honour in 1976. He died in America but his body was flown back to France where he was buried with full state honours.
The above findings are part of the research which ensued in the project - A Hidden Heritage: Indo-British Film Collaboration (1930-1951)