Joris Ivens (November 18 1898 - June 28 1989) was a Dutch documentary filmmaker and devout communist, and is probably best known for his 10-minute short Rain (Regen). Born into a wealthy family, Ivens went to work in his father's photo supply shop and from there developed an interest in film. He completed his first film at 13; in college he studied economics with the goal of continuing his father's business, but an interest in class issues distracted him from that path. Originally his work focused on technique--some argue that it had that focus at the cost of relevance, especially in Rain, filmed over 2 years and featuring impressive cinematography and a number of "characters" (but no information about them aside from what was visible) and in The Bridge (which showed a frank admiration of engineering and also featured a number of "characters" but did not give any information about them).
From 1936 to 1945 Ivens lived in the United States and made anti-fascist and other propaganda films (including the propaganda piece for the Spanish loyalists The Spanish Earth, narrated by Ernest Hemingway). With the rise of McCarthyism, Ivens (long a vocal communist) left the United States. In 1946, commissioned to make a Dutch film about Indonesian "independence," Ivens resigned out of protest of what he considered ongoing imperialism. After the confiscation of Ivens' Dutch passport, Ivens stayed in Eastern Europe and completed the film on his own funds. From 1965 to 1970 Ivens filmed a documentary on the United States' involvement in Vietnam; from 1971 to 1977 he filmed How Yukong Moved the Mountain, a 763 minute documentary about China. Ivens was knighted by the Dutch government in 1989; he died on June 28 that same year.