David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker and visual artist. Lynch's films are known for nightmarish and dreamlike images and meticulous sound design. Lynch's work often depicts a seedy underside to small-town America (particularly Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks) or sprawling California metropolises (Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and his latest release, Inland Empire). Beginning with his experimental film-school feature Eraserhead (1977), he has maintained a strong cult following while experiencing inconsistent commercial success.
Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, for his films The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986), and Mulholland Drive (2001), and also received a screenplay Academy Award nomination for The Elephant Man. Lynch has twice won France's César Award for Best Foreign Film, as well as the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor, the country's top civilian honor, as a Chevalier in 2002 and then an Officier in 2007, while that same year, The Guardian described Lynch as "the most important director of this era". Allmovie called him "the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking".
Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana on January 20, 1946. His father, Donald Walton Lynch, was a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist, and his mother, Edwina "Sunny" Lynch (née Sundholm), was an English language tutor. His maternal grandfather's parents immigrated to the United States from Finland in the 19th century. Lynch was raised a Presbyterian and spent his childhood throughout the Pacific Northwest and Durham, North Carolina. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout and, on his 15th birthday, served as an usher at John F. Kennedy's Presidential Inauguration.