Singer/songwriter Bénabar emerged at the vanguard of France's "chanson réaliste" movement, crafting uncommonly literary portraits of contemporary life informed by folk, jazz, and film. Born Bruno Nicolini on June 16, 1969, in the Paris suburb of Essonne, he began studying trumpet at age eight, and after completing school spent six months in the U.S. There his longtime fascination with filmmaking grew, and upon returning home he trained as a photographer and film technician, at age 20 writing and directing his first short film, Nada Lezard. In the decade to follow Nicolini released two additional shorts, most notably the Montreal Film Festival award-winning José Jeannette. However, his ambitions to direct a feature-length project were stalled by financing troubles, and in the interim he turned to television, writing for the Canal+ production H.