Co-founder of the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris and its manageress for several years. Although the label of "manageress" renders her function, it does not render the depth of her passion. Since the company is for Mnouchkine both her life and her child, the most appropriate name would be the "mother" of the Théâtre du Soleil. In the artist's opinion, the theatre should play an ethical and pedagogical role; she believes that through its operation one can change the world. A perfectionist who finds fulfilment both in the theatre and in film, she does everything with profound passion and involvement.
She was raised in cinematographic circles: her grandfather was a diplomat, who left his family and politics to become an actor; her father, Alexandre Mnouchkine, was a film producer. As a child, Ariane would frequently spend time with him on film sets, and although she is recognised as an outstanding theatre director, she has also excellent films to her credit. In 1964, she wrote the script for the Oscar-nominated L'Homme de Rio. Shot with the participation of the Théâtre du Soleil, the film about Moliere's life (1976-1978), brought her immense success and an Oscar nomination. This grand scale production, which bowls one over with the luxuriance of scenery, and which constantly surprises with the staging solutions applied, is a synthetic rendering of this theatrical genius through the eyes of a theatre mistress. Molière, which was directed by Mnouchkine, and for which she also wrote the script, is considered by critics one of the most outstanding biographies in the history of the cinema; many label the film a masterpiece.
Another film that brought Mnouchkine international fame is the screen adaptation of 1789, one of the famous performances of the epic series about the French Revolution. The list of recognised and popular films directed by Mnouchkine also includes television versions of the performances of La Nuit Miraculeuse and Tambours sur la digue, which she made in collaboration with Hélène Cixous. Mnouchkine's film output is an outstanding expression of the cinema's theatricality, a brilliant synthesis of both kinds of art. Her films constitute a splendid confrontation of her theatre and film directing skills.
Through her art, Ariane Mnouchkine directly refers to the social reality and wishes to encourage one to change the conditions in which he lives. She fights for equal rights for women, and secular character of the state; she champions equal access to education, health service, system of justice or housing. Deeply involved in the problem of refugees, in her work she frequently refers to the problem of mixing cultures.
The screening of films by this extraordinary filmmaker will be a splendid opportunity to get familiar with her artistic genius and the vision of the world. For many, it will certainly be an opportunity to confront the Théâtre du Soleil-related experiences with Mnouchkine's film activity, which is less known in Poland. A meeting with the work of an artist so dedicated to her work, so devoted to the cause of artistic creation, an extremely charismatic person, will undoubtedly become an unforgettable experience. It is worth listening to what Ariane Mnouchkine, daughter of an English woman and a Russian Jew, an outstanding director, who, at sixty-eight, claims she would rather die of overworking than old age, has to say through her art.