His real name is Illich Ramirez Sanchez, but we all know him as Carlos. The Jackal. For 20 years he was the most wanted fugitive in the world - the inventor of international terrorism as we know it today. Under the protection of various Arab regimes and the Stasi secret police, Carlos founded a highly effective and sophisticated worldwide network of terror, and committed at least 80 successful terrorist attacks. In his heyday, Carlos lived a life of luxury, was the world's most feared killer and collaborated with the Red Brigades, ETA, the German Red Army, various sections of the PLO, Saddam Hussein and Colonel Ghaddafi - all at the same time. This is the revealing and true story of the rise - and fall - of a notorious revolutionary who lost his faith and his energy and ended up as nothing more than a ruthless mercenary. The Cold War came to an end in 1989 and Carlos was no longer of use to his former masters. When French Special Agents caught up with him in Sudan in 1992, they found a debauched fat man, drunk by the Hotel poolside, surrounded by expensive prostitutes.

Director's Statement

The film tells the story of Carlos, the story of modern terrorism from the perspective of an insider. Right from the start, one of the central questions was the combination of truth and fiction. What does it mean to show real events with cinematographic means and emotions? And to maintain artistic freedom at the same time? The events in Carlos 'career' represent the current level of knowledge about him as accurately as possible and our research has been very extensive and was examined with minuteness. However, the facts had to take up a subordinate role to the purpose of the dramaturgy, which demands its own constraints and simplifications on such a complex story line, that spans over more than 20 years. To be honest, I would have liked to call the film 'Carlos, a novel', because although it is inspired by actual events, its narrative, its rhythm and its inquiring approach as well as the lesser puplic aspects of Carlos' character have developed out of fiction and the mystery that surrounds him. Carlos is a modern myth, visible and yet invisible, comprehensible and yet absurd, known and yet unknown.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Olivier Assayas

Written by: Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck, Daniel Leconte, Dan Franck

Produced by: Jens Meurer, Daniel Leconte, Judy Tossell

Cinematography: Yorick le Saux, Denis Lenoir

Editing: Luc Barnier, Marion Monnier

Production Design: Francois-Renaud Labarthe

Cast: Judy Tossell, Christoph Bach, Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Scheer

Nominations and Awards

  • European Editor 2010
  • European Director 2010
  • Feature Film Selection 2010