Director, Producer, Distributor, Editor
Born in Paris France, Philippe Diaz studied Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, and began his film career as a director in 1980. After directing and producing several short feature and documentary films, commercials and corporate videos, Diaz moved fully into the producer’s role with his first feature film, “Havre” by Juliet Berto (cult actor/director of the French New Wave). His second feature, “Rue Du Depart” by Tony Gatlif (“Gadjo Dilo”) starred Gérard Depardieu, winning several Grand Prize awards at major international festivals.
His third feature, “Mauvais Sang” by Leos Carax (the first film about AIDS) became an international hit, winning one of most important awards in France, the 1986 Louis Delluc award, and was also nominated for 3 Césars (the French Oscar) as well as winning major awards around the world. This was a movie known for defining a generation, as well as for launching the careers of Juliette Binoche and Julie Delpy.
Recognizing an opportunity, Diaz added a distribution division to his production company, Films Plain Chant, to specialize in distributing feature films by “author/directors” such as “Bless Their Little Hearts” by Billy Woodberry and “Candy Mountain” by acclaimed American photographer Robert Frank (produced by Diaz featuring Kevin J. O’Connor and Tom Waits). This launched Diaz into English language international productions.
His fourth production in 1989, “Pierre Et Djemila” by Gérard Blain (a political Romeo and Juliet), represented France in the Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Continuing his search for new talent and for producing films that appeal to global audiences, Diaz produced “The Bengali Night” (shot in English in India) that launched the career of director Nicholas Klotz and featured Hugh Grant in his first leading role along with John Hurt and Indian mega-star Shabana Azmi. This film marked the beginning of Diaz’s, collaboration with American studios, in particular Columbia Pictures, and the opening of his first US based production company in Los Angeles, Sceneries Entertainment.
Soon after, New Line Cinema tapped Diaz to co-finance and produce “The Man Inside”, a political thriller directed by Bobby Roth with Jurgen Prochnow and Peter Coyote. The collaboration with Canal Plus extended into the takeover of the ailing AAA, by Diaz and Canal+, installing the young filmmaker as chairman and head of acquisition. This takeover fulfilled the need for another major independent distributor in France, which Diaz built by successfully acquiring and distributing dozens of films including “Paris Trout” and “My Own Private Idaho”.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1991, he has continued to produce films with budgets ranging from $200,000 and $15 million under his production shingle, Sceneries Entertainment. With “Heavy Metal 2000”, he was able to broaden his production knowledge with the animated production and his collaboration with Columbia / TriStar. In 1994 he started Sceneries Distribution specializing in bringing foreign films into the US with the support of all the European majors that Diaz has collaborated with throughout the years.
In 2003, he created Cinema Libre Studio, with a consortium of partners to provide an alternative structure for intelligent, independent films to get developed, financed, produced and distributed.