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Alexandre Aja

It could be said that director Alexandre Aja had filmmaking in his blood. Born Alexandre Jouan-Arcady (the pseudonym "Aja" is taken from his initials) to French-Algerian filmmaker Alexandre Jouan Arcady and French film critic Marie-Jo Jouan, Aja's first foray into cinema came when his father cast him in a small role in his 1982 film "Le Grand Pardon" when Aja was just four years old. The young Aja would make similar appearances in three more of his father's movies before moving onto his own projects, stepping behind the camera at age 18 to write, direct, and produce the short film "Over the Rainbow" (1997), which was nominated for a Golden Palm award for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival. Aja directed his first feature-length film, "Furia," in 1999, starring a then up-and-coming French actress named Marion Cotillard. But it was Aja's next film, an explosive horror movie called "High Tension" (2003), that would prove particularly impactful. Film critics began to associate Aja with the "New French Extremity" movement in cinema, counting him among a cadre of French directors like François Ozon and Gaspar Noe who pushed the envelope of transgressive filmmaking. Based on "High Tension," writer Alan Jones of Total Film magazine cited Aja as a member of the so-called "Splat Pack" of horror directors spearheading a resurgence in ultra-violence in the genre. Perhaps most notably, "High Tension" was screened by legendary horror director Wes Craven, who was so impressed that he contacted Aja with an offer for him to direct a remake of Craven's own chilling 1977 classic "The Hills Have Eyes." Aja took Craven up on his offer, and his 2006 remake of the movie proved monumentally successful, grossing over $40 million in the United States. Aja's following projects, "Mirrors" (2008) and "Piranha 3D" (2010), continued to explore various themes within the horror genre. Aja's 2014 big-screen adaptation of the Joe Hill novel "Horns" created significant buzz not only for its dark, fantasy-horror themes, but for its casting of "Harry Potter" alum Daniel Radcliffe in the leading role.
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