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Felix van Groeningen (born 1 November 1977) is a Belgian film director and screenwriter. He is known for The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) and Belgica (2016), with the former being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards. He made his English-language debut with the biographical drama Beautiful Boy (2018).

Felix van Groeningen
Felix van Groenigen.jpg
Van Groeningen at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July 2016.
Born (1977-11-01) 1 November 1977 (age 41)
Ghent, Belgium
Alma materRoyal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK)
Years active2000–present
Partner(s)Charlotte Vandermeersch

Personal lifeEdit

Van Groeningen was born in Ghent. His parents were hippies who led a very liberal lifestyle. He has an older brother, Seppe. After his parents' divorce, they lived in the same house, but each with a new partner.[1] His father started a live music club 'The Charlatan' when he was twelve-years-old, which became the inspiration for his film Belgica.[2] He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) and graduated in 2000 with a Masters of Audiovisual Arts, his masters thesis was the short film 50CC.[3][4] He and Belgian actress Charlotte Vandermeersch have a son, Rufus, who was born in 2018.[5] He is fluent in several languages, including Flemish Dutch, French, and English.[citation needed]


After graduating from college, van Groeningen directed several short films, and written and directed several stage plays.[6] He embarked on a long-term collaboration with Dirk Impens, originally his professor at KASK,[6] who produced all five of Van Groeningen's feature films from 2004 to 2016 under his production company Menuet. Impens announced he was closing down Menuet in July 2017.[7]

Feature filmsEdit

Steve + Sky and With Friends Like TheseEdit

Van Groeningen made his directorial debut with Steve + Sky (2004), which depicts a romance between a drug dealer and a prostitute, and starred Titus De Voogdt and Delfine Bafort in the titular roles. Van Groeningen later said the film "was about realizing that you're not invincible or immortal" after having an epiphany at age 23 when his father died due to complications with a liver transplant and he lost a close friend to cancer.[8] His second feature, With Friends Like These (Dutch: Dagen zonder lief) (2007), was a comedy which tells the story of a struggling group of twenty-year-olds whose lives get thrown into limbo when their friend returns from New York.

The MisfortunatesEdit

His third feature film, The Misfortunates (Dutch: De Helaasheid der Dingen) (2009), was a film adaptation the 2006 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Dimitri Verhulst.[9] The film follows the life of the thirteen-year-old protagonist, Gunther, who is raised by a family of alcoholics and misfits as he grows up and dreams of being a writer.[10] The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival in the Director's Fortnight section and won the Prix Art et Essai.[11] The film was a box office success in Belgium with 454,435 admissions to cinemas, and was the most watched Flemish film that year in Belgium.[12] The film was selected as the Belgian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.[13]

The Broken Circle BreakdownEdit

His fourth feature film, The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012), starred Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens as Didier and Elise, a bohemian couple that loses their daughter to cancer.[6] It is an adaptation of a stage play originally written and directed by Heldenbergh. The film was a critical and commercial success, and became the most watched Flemish film in Belgium of the year.[12][14] The film was selected as the Belgian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards,[15][16] and was on the nominated shortlist.[17] He was invited to become a member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2014.[18]


His fifth feature film, Belgica (2016), follows the lives of two brothers who start a nightclub but quickly gets swept up in hedonistic pursuits. The film was based upon two real-life brothers who bought 'The Charlatan', a music club owned by his father, in 2000 and managed it for seven years.[2] The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival where he won the Best Director prize in the World Cinema Dramatic section.[19] The film received mixed reviews from critics but was praised for the soundtrack created by the Flemish band Soulwax, who had previously collaborated with Van Groeningen on Steve + Sky.[20]

Beautiful BoyEdit

Van Groeningen made his English-language debut with the film Beautiful Boy (2018), which he directed and co-wrote, and which stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.[5]


Feature filmsEdit

Year Title Director Writer Notes
2004 Steve + Sky Yes Yes Directorial debut
2007 With Friends Like These Yes Yes
2009 The Misfortunates Yes Yes
2012 The Broken Circle Breakdown Yes Yes César Award for Best Foreign Film
Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film
2013 Lux Prize
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Film
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Director
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Screenwriter
2016 Belgica Yes Yes
2018 Beautiful Boy Yes Yes English-language debut
Co-written with Luke Davies

Frequent collaboratorsEdit

Individual Role Steve + Sky With Friends Like These The Misfortunates The Broken Circle Breakdown Belgica Beautiful Boy
Ruben Impens Cinematographer  N  N  N  N  N  N
Nico Leunen Editor  N  N  N  N  N  N
Dirk Impens Producer  N  N  N  N  N
Johan Heldenbergh Actor  N  N  N  N
Soulwax Music  N  N
Wine Dierickx Actor  N  N
Charlotte Vandermeersch Actor  N  N screenplay only  N
Arne Sierens Screenwriter  N  N
Koen De Graeve Actor  N  N
Jef Neve Music  N  N
Frans van Gestel Co-producer  N  N  N


  1. ^ Lesage, Friedl' (29 February 2016). "Mijn ouders waren (net geen) hippies". Touché (podcast). Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. ^ McCracken, Kristin (9 October 2013). "Q&A: Felix van Groeningen on The Broken Circle Breakdown". Hamptons International Film Festival. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Alte Liebe — der Freitag". Der Freitag (in German). Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b Devos, Thalisa; Ceulemans, Ewoud (15 June 2018). "Felix Van Groeningen: "In Hollywood mag je niet laten merken dat je twijfelt, anders ben je dood"". De Morgen (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "The Broken Circle Breakdown - The Match Factory". The Match Factory. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  7. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (17 July 2017). "'Broken Circle Breakdown' producer Dirk Impens to quit film business". Screen Daily. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  8. ^ Ehrlich, David (31 October 2013). "DIRECTOR'S CUT: FELIX VAN GROENINGEN ('THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN')". MTV News. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (8 April 2010). "A Family Lives to Drink, and, Yes, Drinks to Live". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. ^ "The Misfortunates | Menuet & IDTV Film presents: The Misfortunates, a film by Felix van Groeningen". Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. ^ ""Misfortunates" win in Cannes". Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep. 23 May 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  12. ^ a b "'The Broken Circle Breakdown' in top ten most viewed Flemish films". Het Nieuwsblad. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  13. ^ Leffler, Rebecca (21 September 2009). "Belgium backs 'Misfortunates' for Oscar". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  15. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown represents Belgium at Foreign Language Oscars". Flanders Image. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Oscars: Belgium Nominates 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' for Foreign Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Oscars: Main nominations 2014". BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  18. ^ Belga (26 June 2014). "Felix Van Groeningen mag lid worden van Oscar-Academy". De Morgen. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  19. ^ "2016 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  20. ^ McCarthy, Todd (21 January 2016). "'Belgica': Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 June 2018.

External linksEdit