Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
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After studying fine arts at Yale, director Neil Burger fell into the experimental film scene of the 1980s. He ended up directing a series of stylish public service announcements for MTV before landing a lucrative job as a commercial director for director-producer Ridley Scott's forward-thinking advertising production company, RSA Films. Burger's first feature, the troubling 2002 mockumentary "Interview With the Assassin," purported to document an aging man's confession to his involvement in the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy. Four years later, the former visual artist wrote and directed "The Illusionist," a captivating period film about a love triangle involving an arrogant nobleman and a 19th century magician. The project, which featured Golden Globe-winners Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, was somewhat overlooked due to writer-director Christopher Nolan's similarly magic-themed, concurrent release, "The Prestige." Nevertheless, Burger was praised for his film's visual achievements, including a spellbinding recreation of the Orange Tree Trick, a classic 18th-century illusion originated by Louis XVI court-magician Joseph Pinetti. His third film, 2008's "The Lucky Ones," followed a trio of Iraq War veterans struggling to find normalcy upon returning to the home front. "Limitless," his first directorial project scripted by someone else, was a Wall Street thriller with science-fiction elements. Burger's work has been championed by screenwriting and production team Brian Koppelman and David Levein, who helped to bring his first three features to the screen.