The 15 Greatest Sibling Filmmakers In Movie History

8. Mika and Aki Kaurismäki

Brothers Aki and Mike Kaurismäki may not be household names globally, but their combined filmographies have accounted for one-fifth the total output of Finnish cinema since 1980. Aki, the younger of the two, was lured into filmmaking when he appeared in Mika’s university degree film, The Liar, as actor and co-screewriter. After the success of that film they founded Villealfa, the third biggest production company in Finland’s history. Since then, both have directed a number of films, though not without their share of controversy.

Aki’s 2002 comedy-drama, The Man Without A Past, won the Grand Prix at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, but the director boycotted the 2002 New York Film Festival in response to the USA’s refusal to grant Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami a visa. Mika, a resident of Brazil for more than two decades now, directed Johnny Depp, Julie Delpy and a pre-Doctor Who David Tennant in L.A. Without a Map.


7. The Marx Brothers

Not filmmakers per se, but the Marx brothers’ thirteen films together are a testament to the prolificacy of their onscreen collaborations. It is not the directors of works such as Animal Crackers and A Day at the Races that are remembered, but the lightning-fast one-liners of Groucho, though the interplay between the brothers often yields similarly immortal guffaws, such as Chico’s “there ain’t no Sanity Clause” in A Night at the Opera.

For insight into the precedents set by the brothers, see Seth Rogen and James Franco’s controversial comedy The Interview, which so invoked the ire of Kim Jong-un in 2014, and remember that the equally dictatorial Benito Mussolini banned Duck Soup in Italy back in 1933.


6. Ridley and Tony Scott

Tony and Ridley Scott’s respective careers may not have overlapped much, but there’s no doubting both made a substantial contribution to popular British (and American) cinema. Like the Kaurismäkis, Tony followed older brother Ridley into filmmaking by appearing in one of his first projects, Boy and Bicycle.

Ridley may have had the more respected career, being nominated three times for Best Director at the Academy Awards (for Thelma and Louis, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down) and awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, but Tony’s formidable canon includes True Romance – a better Tarantino film than anything the man himself has directed since 1997 – and Top Gun, which increased US Navy recruitment by 500 percent. The brothers have worked together as producers on several television shows, such as Numb3rs and Coma, before Tony’s tragic death in 2012.


5. The Lumière Brothers

The original sibling filmmakers, Auguste and Louise Lumiére are considered by many to be the first movie directors of all time. Their collection of shorts – ten films running approximately 50 seconds each – played at Salon Indien du Grand Café in 1895 to an enraptured audience, including fellow Frenchman Georges Méliès, who would go on to further revolutionise cinema with the trickery of Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), as documented in Martin Scorsese’s love-letter to the silent era, Hugo.

Though cinema has unrecognisably evolved since their first film, La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiére Factory), the Lumiéres laid the ground work for so much of what followed, though they may not have envisaged such an enormous cultural force, allegedly stating that “the cinema is an invention without any future.” How wrong they were…


4. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan

Though Christopher and Jonathan Nolan will almost certainly be remembered as the duo who shared respective credits as director and screenwriter on the Dark Knight trilogy, their collaboration can be traced further back to less mainstream cinema.

It was Jonathan’s short story, “Memento Mori,” which gave Christopher the source material for his sophomore effort, Memento, still the director’s best film by some distance. Jonathan also co-wrote The Prestige and Interstellar in 2014, based on the somewhat impenetrable work of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Whatever Christopher chooses to direct next – and with a track record of obliterating the box office, his options are limitless – it will come as no surprise if Jonathan is on typewriting duty alongside him.


3. Albert and David Maysles

Albert and David Maysle captured the moment which, for many, brought the peace-and-love era of the 1960s to a screeching halt. Gimme Shelter was their documentary about the Rolling Stones concert at Altamount Speedway which ended in tragedy when an 18-year-old was stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel biker, misguidedly hired as security. Gimme Shelter was the darker flipside to Woodstock, Michael Wadleigh’s three-hour paean to hippy subculture.

The Maysle brother’s hugely influential ‘direct cinema’ approach also yielded Grey Gardens, detailing the increasing squalor in which “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Bouvier live, despite being the respective aunt and cousin of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Grey Gardens was named by Sight & Sound’s film critic poll as one of the ten best documentaries in 2014, though it was merely one of 30 films made by the brothers throughout their career.


2. The Dardenne BrothersDarlings of the arthouse, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne have worked together since the late 1970s. They were propelled to the forefront of European cinema with 1999’s Rosetta, which pocketed the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Often compared to the low-budget aesthetic and working-class focus of Ken Loach (they chose to discuss Loach’s Raining Stones in the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Film-makers on Film’ series in 2003), the Dardenne’s triumphed again at Cannes in 2005 with L’Enfant (The Child).

They remain favourites at the festival, their second-most recent film, The Kid with a Bike, sharing the Grand Prix (by now, effectively a second-place prize) with Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time in Anatolia in 2011. Two Days, One Night, released in 2014, has gotten Marion Cotillard her second Best Actress nomination (after winning for La Vie en Rose in 2007), an achievement in itself for a category so dominated by Anglophones.


1. The Coen Brothers

Sixteen films in a career which has covered almost every conceivable genre – from western to musical to gangster film – Joel and Ethan Coen’s reputation as the most formidable filmmaking partnership of modern times seems assured. Beginning with the grimy, low-budget, neo-noir Blood Simple in 1984, they have gone on to win two Oscars for their screenplays (both Original, in the case of Fargo in 1997, and Adapted, from Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men, in 2008) as well as Best Picture and Best Director awards.

Some slightly bumpy patches towards the start of the 21st century notwithstanding (notably their ill-advised remake of the Ealing Studios classic The Ladykillers in 2004), their films are never less than an event for cinephiles around the world.

Author Bio: Padraic Coffey is a freelance writer and film critic who divides his time between Dublin, Ireland and Vancouver, Canada. He has written for The Sunday Independent, Ireland’s largest circulation newspaper, and Trinity College, Dublin, ranked 71st best university in world by the QS World University Rankings in 2014. Additionally, his film criticism has appeared on Volta, Ireland’s first VOD website, as well as sites such as Film Jam and Head Stuff.