Barbet Schroeder was born in 1941, in Tehran, Iran, and he grew up in Colombia. At the age of 11, his family moved to France, where Barbet would study philosophy at Sorbonne. At just 17, he began working for the prestigious French magazine Cahiers du Cinema, as well as L’air de Paris. He travelled to India in 1961, to work as an assistant producer on a Fritz Lang film, and he stayed there for six months, after the film was cancelled, travelling all over the country and working as an assistant photographer for an Italian publisher. When he returned to France, the following year, he directed two short films and worked as Jean-Luc Godard’s assistant in the movie Les Carabiniers.

At 21, in 1963, he founded the producer Les Films du Losange and produced the first two Moral Tales by French director Éric Rohmer: La Bolangère de Monceau (in which he also starred as the protagonist) and La Carrière de Suzanne. He would later produce more films by Rohmer and some of the most important names in the French New Wave. His career as a director began in 1969, with the film More. After a few more films in the 70s, Schroeder was drawn to Hollywood, where he resumed his career with such films as Barfly (1987), Reversal of Fortune (1990) – which earned Jeremy Irons an Oscar – Single White Female (1992) and Murder by Numbers (2002), but not without directing some more personal projects as well.

After a few years in the United States, Schroeder returned to France, where he currently lives.