M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN (Director / Co-Screenwriter / Producer) has captured the attention of audiences around the world for almost two decades. With his cutting edge direction, sharp screenplays, depth of character development and ability to extract the best performances from his cast, Shyamalan is widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of our time.
Shyamalan began making films at a young age in his hometown near Philadelphia, and by sixteen, he had completed forty-five short films. Upon finishing high school he informed his parents, both doctors, that although he had graduated cum laude and received academic scholarships to several prestigious medical programs, he had instead decided to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to study filmmaking.
During his final year at NYU, Shyamalan wrote Praying with Anger, a semiautobiographical screenplay about a student from the U.S. who goes to India and finds himself a stranger in his homeland. Shyamalan shot the story on location in India in 1992, serving as the film's writer, director, producer and star. The film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside Reservoir Dogs and Strictly Ballroom.
In the years that followed, Shyamalan co-wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little for Columbia Pictures and completed his first main stream feature, Wide Awake, a film that explored a boy's search to discover his faith.
In 1999, The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis, catapulted Shyamalan into stardom and he became one of the most sought after young filmmakers in Hollywood. One of the highest grossing films of all time, The Sixth Sense received a total of six Academy AwardÂ® nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Shyamalan collaborated with Willis again in 2000, on the film Unbreakable, also starring Samuel L. Jackson. A film ahead of its time, Unbreakable has become an underground hit in the years since its release. Shyamalan once again explored the idea of a man questioning his faith in the 2002 box office success Signs, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.
In 2004, Shyamalan released The Village, starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Joaquin Phoenix. The film explores an isolated community and the treaty they hold with the mysterious creatures living in the surrounding forest. In his next film, Lady in the Water, Shyamalan explored the supernatural world of a dark bedtime story. In 2008, Shyamalan wrote, directed and produced The Happening, a film that follows a man and his family as they try to escape from an inexplicable natural disaster.
His most recent box office success was The Last Airbender, an adaptation of the Nickelodeon series and Shyamalan's first foray into family entertainment. The film found huge success both domestically and internationally and continues to be a popular film around the world. Shyamalan also produces a series of supernatural thrillers under the banner "The Night Chronicles." The series began with the film Devil, which opened in September 2010, and will continue with the thriller Reincarnate.
Shyamalan's production company, Blinding Edge Pictures, is located near Philadelphia, where the majority of his films take place.
In 2001, Shyamalan and his wife, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, co-founded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to helping empower individuals around the world to live a life of dignity. Shyamalan envisions a world where every human being has an ability to thrive and is given the opportunity to reach their potential. He has personally funded over $1.7 million in grants to help provide life's basic amenities such as food, water, education, livelihood, and shelter to those without access. Recently, concerned with the state of public education in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, Shyamalan has begun to focus the efforts and resources of his foundation on educational reform in Philadelphia. This has lead to the publication of Schooled, a book that focuses on the five keys to closing the education gap. The book, published by Simon and Schuster, releases this September.
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