Born in the USA (San Francisco) in 1932, Noël Burch has been living in France since 1951. He graduated from the Institut Des Hautes Etudes Cinèmatographiques in 1954. While primarily known for his theoretical writings, he has always positioned himself as a filmmaker and has directed over twenty titles, mostly documentaries.
Burch has been publishing since the 1960s. Among his numerous publications are his first and best known book Theory of Film Practice (New York: Praeger, 1973) and To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema (Berkeley, 1979), which remains the most robust history of Japanese cinema written by a Westerner.
From 1967 to 1972, he collaborated with Janine Bazin and Andrè S. Labarthe for the celebrated series, Cinèastes de Notre Temps, and directed seven programs which are considered to have renewed the “film-maker portrait” in the heroic years of French public television. It was during that same period that Burch was co-founder and director of the Institut de Formation Cinèmatographique, an alternative film school associating theory and practice.