Abel Ferrara

A prolific independent filmmaker with a penchant for graphic sex and violence, director Abel Ferrara developed a strong following for his highly atmospheric, stylized portraits of an ultra-violent and crime-ridden New York City with gritty movies like "King of New York" (1990) and "Bad Lieutenant" (1992). Often working in collaboration with out-of-bounds actors like Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe, Ferrara rose above the seedy sex and violence to metaphorical and often allegorical levels by exploring good and evil, often through the use of religious iconography. Aided by screenwriting partner and childhood friend Nicholas St. John, he rose to prominence in the indie world with exploitation movies "Driller Killer" (1979) and "Ms. 45" (1980), and even had a brief brush with the mainstream by directing episodes of "Miami Vice" (NBC, 1984-89) and "Crime Story" (NBC, 1986). But it was "King of New York" and "Bad Lieutenant" that earned him a great deal of respect despite their sordid subject matter, the latter of which many considered to be Ferrara's masterpiece. After running into trouble with Madonna on "Dangerous Game" (1993) and the exquisite period gangster piece "The Funeral" (1996), he often struggled to find financing. In his later years, Ferrara continued making tough films that often depicted an essentially evil world that nonetheless contained hope for salvation.