“With Paul Verhoeven as jury president, we have a filmmaker who has worked in a variety of genres in Europe and Hollywood. His creative, multifaceted boldness and his willingness to experiment are reflected in the spectrum of his works,” says Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlinale.
The Berlinale welcomed the acclaimed filmmaker in 2013 at the Berlinale Talent Campus (today’s Berlinale Talents). At the panel “Follow Your Instincts: Filmmaking According to Paul Verhoeven” he gave insight into his work methods and his perspective on production landscapes in the US and Europe.
Following studies in mathematics and physics, Paul Verhoeven turned his attention towards film in the mid-1960s, and began his directing career in 1969 with the successful Dutch television series Floris. After his feature film debut Business is Business in 1971, about two prostitutes who dream of a conventional middle-class life, came the erotic thriller Turkish Delight in 1973, a big hit in the Netherlands that also garnered a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1974 Academy Awards. Following his international breakthrough Soldier of Orange (1977) – which was nominated for a Golden Globe – and The Fourth Man (1983), Paul Verhoeven moved to Hollywood to focus on an evolution of style in his work.
Large productions featuring lots of action and special effects, like RoboCop (1987), and especially Total Recall (1990), were big box-office hits that revolutionized the science fiction film genre while maintaining credibility as author’s films.
The provocative, erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992) saw Paul Verhoeven return to themes prevalent in his Dutch works. Basic Instinct shot Sharon Stone to stardom, and was nominated for two Academy Awards. In 1997 and 2000, he once again focused on science fiction with Starship Troopers and Hollow Man.
After nearly 20 years in Hollywood, Paul Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands in 2006 to film Black Book (2006), based on the story of a Dutch resistance fighter during World War II.
Starting in 2007, he moved his attention to writing. He returned to the cinema in 2016, celebrating his comeback with the French-German production Elle. In Elle, Paul Verhoeven continues his focus on familiar themes in a surprising new way. Isabelle Huppert plays a woman whose forays through the depths of sado-masochism help her transcend childhood trauma.
Elle, set to open in German cinemas on February 2, 2017, is nominated for the European Film Awards in three categories, as well as in two categories for the US Critics’ Choice Awards.