William Friedkin is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing The French Connection in 1971 and The Exorcist in 1973; for the former, he won the Academy Award for Best Director. His recent film, Bug won the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
After seeing the movie Citizen Kane as a boy, Friedkin became fascinated with movies and began working for WGN-TV immediately after high school. He eventually started his directorial career doing live television shows and documentaries, including The People vs. Paul Crump which won several awards and contributed to the commutation of Crump's death sentence. As mentioned in Friedkin's voice over commentary on the DVD re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Friedkin also directed one of the last episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965, called "Off Season".
Hitchcock admonished Friedkin for not wearing a tie while directing. In 1965 Friedkin moved to Hollywood and two years later released his first feature film, Good Times starring Sonny and Cher. Several other "art" films followed, although Friedkin didn't necessarily want to be known as an art house director.
In 1971, his The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director.