Atom Egoyan, OC (Armenian: Ատոմ Էգոյան EA, Ադոմ Էկոյան WA) (born July 19, 1960) is a critically acclaimed Canadian-Armenian film maker. His work often explores themes of alienation and isolation, featuring characters whose interactions are mediated through technology, bureaucracy or other power structures. Stylistically, Egoyan's films often follow non-linear plot-structures, in which events are placed out of sequence in order to elicit specific emotional reactions from the audience by withholding key information.
Egoyan was born to Joseph and Shushan Yeghoyan in Cairo, Egypt. He and his sister Eve Egoyan (who is now a concert pianist based in Toronto) were raised by their parents in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. As a teenager, he became interested in reading and writing plays. Significant influences included Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. He graduated from Trinity College in the University of Toronto. It was at Trinity College that Egoyan came into contact with Harold Nahabedian, a Canadian also of Armenian descent who was then the Anglican Chaplain of Trinity College. In interviews Egoyan credited Nahabedian for introducing him to the language and history of his ethnic heritage. Egoyan is now based in Toronto, where he lives with his wife, Arsinée Khanjian, an actress who appears in many of Egoyan's films, and their son, Arshile. In 1999, Egoyan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Egoyan has directed a dozen full-length films, several television episodes, and a few shorter pieces. His early work was based on his own material, and he received some notice for the film Exotica (1994), but it was Egoyan's first attempt at adapted material that resulted in his best-known work, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), which landed him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He also directed Sarabande featuring Khanjian and Lori Singer, a drama which flanks cellist Yo-Yo Ma's performance of Bach's Fourth Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, as part of the latter's Inspired by Bach series for Sony Classical. The film Ararat (2002) also generated some publicity for Egoyan, as it was the first major motion picture to deal directly with the Armenian Genocide. Ararat later won the Best Picture prize at the Genie Awards (strangely, he failed to receive a Best Director nomination for the same film).
In 2004, Egoyan opened Camera Bar, a 50-seat cinema-lounge on Queen Street West in Toronto.
Egoyan is a member of the faculty at the European Graduate School. Beginning in September 2006, Egoyan will teach at the University of Toronto for the next three years. He will join the faculty of arts and science as the dean's distinguished visitor in theatre, film, music and visual studies.