This Day in Ohio Birthdays: Jim Jarmusch

Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch was born in 1953 and grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, a suburb east of Cleveland. After a brief stint at Northwestern in Chicago, he moved to New York to attend Columbia University, where he studied literature. After graduating and spending some time in Paris, Jarmusch was accepted by New York University for their graduate film program. In his final year at NYU, he worked as an assistant to Nicholas Ray, the legendary director of such films as Rebel Without a Cause. Ultimately, though, he didn’t receive his master’s degree, as the university rejected his final project and first feature film, Permanent Vacation.

Jarmusch subsequently made a name for himself with his first theatrically released movie, Stranger Than Paradise, much of which takes place in Cleveland. The film was awarded the Camera d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and also won the 1985 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film. Subsequent films like Down By Law and Mystery Train cemented Jarmusch as an important creator of independent cinema, while he also became a fixture of New York’s underground downtown, playing in No Wave band The Del-Byzanteens. More recently, Jarmusch began shooting Only Lovers Left Alive, an adaptation of Dave Wallis’ 1964 novel starring Tilda Swanson. (Maybe not so coincidentally, Ray was supposed to direct an adaption of the novel in 1966 that ultimately didn’t come to fruition. Clevelander Stiv Bators also took the novel’s title for the name of an album by his short-lived post–Dead Boys project The Wanderers.) Additionally, Jarmusch released two albums in 2012 that he recorded with Jozef van Wissem, who is scoring Only Lovers Left Alive. Today, the director turns 60.