With a solid background in studies of the human mind, Amos Kollek has a knack for insightfully capturing the very essence of his often troubled characters. Despite the fact that his early films were bleak in depicting their characters' fragility, the director has since excelled at transforming the darkness of his protagonists into a warm quirkiness by moving from serious drama to romantic comedy. A native of Israel who studied psychology and philosophy at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, Kollek became interested in film after first working as a writer; his early mastering of the visual medium soon led to exploring serious emotional issues onscreen. In 1985, Kollek kicked off his career with the lighthearted comedy Goodbye, New York (1985), and after once again going for laughs with Forever, Lulu (1987), the director moved into darker territory with High Stakes (1989) and Double Edge (1992). If audiences had mistaken Kollek's luridly titled Whore 2 (1994) as some cheap soft-core straight-to-video sequel, what they actually got was a realistic and downbeat portrayal of dangerous life on the streets. His 1995 documentary, Teddy Kollek, followed his eponymous father -- who also happened to be the mayor of Jerusalem. In 1997, Kollek crafted the downbeat urban drama Sue, a saddening tale of urban isolation. The film found the director forming a close bond with star Anna Levine, and the actress would return to play the lead in Kollek's subsequent film, the equally depressing Fiona (1998). Of course, drug-addicted prostitutes alone do not a career make, so his next film, Fast Food Fast Women (2000), was a refreshing change of pace for Kollek and Levine -- and the film proved a surprising success at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The following year found Kollek sticking in the Big Apple for the romantic comedy Queenie in Love. If that film didn't quite garner the attention that Fast Food Fast Women had, his 2002 comedy drama, Bridget (again starring Levine), benefited from positive word of mouth and a Golden Bear nomination at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2003, Kollek directed Amélie star Audrey Tautou in the upbeat romantic comedy Nowhere to Go But Up.