Frederic Rossif


Frédéric Rossif (1922 - 1990)

Frederic Rossif (August 14, 1922 - April 18, 1990) was a French film- and documentarymaker. Famous for his nature films, but his filmography expands more than that. Frederic was also a television director who's common themes included wildlife, painters and history of the 20th century. He frequently worked with Maurice Jarre as well.

Frédéric Rossif

Frederic Rossif

Rossif was born in Cetinje, Montenegro, former Yugoslavia. After the 2nd World War, Rossif lived in Paris and worked at Club Saint-Germain. During those years he got acquainted with Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Vian, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway and Malcolm Lowry among others.


Since 1948 Rossif actively collaborated with the Cinémathèque Française, organizing an avant-garde festival at Antibes in 1949-50. In 1952 he joined the ORTF. In the late 1950s Rossif began writing and directing his own films, quickly achieving a considerable degree of success. His 1963 film about the Spanish Civil War, Mourir a Madrid received the Prix Jean Vigo that year, and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Several of his 1960s films were scored by the celebrated French composer Maurice Jarre. In 1970 Rossif completed his only non-documentary film, Aussi loin que l'amour, featuring Salvador Dalí as one of the actors.


In early 1970s Rossif met the Greek composer Vangelis, who was working in Paris at the time. The two collaborated on a large number of films, most notably the wild-life documentaries L'Apocalypse des animaux, L'Opéra sauvage and La Fête sauvage, some of the music from which was released on CD. Vangelis' music for an ocean scene from the 6th episode of L'Apocalypse, called "La Petite Fille de la Mer", subsequently became a modern classic. The collaboration between the director and the musician came in 1980 to an interesting climax: Rossif directed a documentary dedicated to Vangelis, called L'Arbre de Vie.


Rossif's last projects included Pasteur le Siecle, a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of Paris' L' Institut Pasteur (1987) and the monumental World War II documentary De Nuremberg à Nuremberg (1989). Just before his death, Frederic finished "Les Sentinelles Oubliee" a short vision of the 20th century of which Vangelis' music can be heard. Rossif died in 1990 and was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.


Rossif used much Vangelis music over and over again for several movies. Not only for his wildlife documentaries or the painters' biographies you can hear music used elsewhere in Rossif's filmography.

The grave of Frédéric Rossif

The grave of Frédéric Rossif in Paris

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