Director Alan Parker, a great figure in the UK industry, passed away this morning after a long illness, the British Film Institute has confirmed. He was 76 years old.
Twice the Oscar Parker nominee was best known for the classic film directing included Bugone Malone, Express mesnate, The burning of the Mississippi and commitments, as well as the big budget movie Madonna Avoid. Throughout a brilliant career, his feature films won 19 BAFTA awards, ten Golden Globes and ten Oscars among them.
Parker was an avid supporter of industry in the UK and a founding member of the UK Guild Guilders. He was the founding Chairman of the UK Film Council in 2000, a position he held for five years, and before that he was Chairman of the BFI. He received a CBE in 1995 and a cavalryman in 2002. He was also a Arts and Letters Officer (France).
The Visible Deaths of Hollywood and the Entertainment Industry in 2020: Photo Gallery
Alan Parker was born in Islington, London, February 14, 1944. He began his career in advertising as a copywriter, but quickly graduated to write and direct commercials. By the late 1960s he was one of the small but extremely influential groups, the group of British directors (including Ridley Scott and Hugh Hudson and Adrian Lyne) who revolutionized the look, quality and reputation of television commercials by combining sophisticated stories, smart with the aesthetics of cinema for the first time. In 1980 he received the D&AD Golden President Award.
In 1974, he switched to drama in long forms when he directed the BBC film, The evacuees, written by Jack Rosenthal, who won the International Emmy Award and a BAFTA award for directing; the first of seven Parker BAFTA awards.
Parker wrote and directed his first feature film, Bugone Malone, in 1975. It was a unique musical vanguard of 1930s Hollywood galactic films with a cast composed entirely of children, including a knockout performance by Jodie Foster. The film received eight BAFTA film nominations and five awards.
Parker’s second film was extremely successful and controversial Express mesnate (1977) who won two Oscars and six Academy Award nominations, including for Parker as Best Director. The film received six Golden Globe Awards and four BAFTA Awards.
This was followed, in 1979, by fame, a joyous and diverse celebration of youth ambition in art, which won two Academy Awards, six Golden Globe nominations, and then adapted into a feature-length television series.
In 1981 Parker directed the powerful family drama, Shoot the Moon, starring Diane Keaton and Albert Finney. That same year he also ran the seminary Pink Floyd – Muri, adaptation of the feature film of the apparently successful rock album.
In 1984, Parker led Birdy based on the novel William Wharton, starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, who won the Grand Prix Special Du Jury at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.
Parker’s next film, Occult Thriller Angelic Heart, made in 1986 and starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet, opened in the US amid a storm of controversy sparked by the XX ‘rating imposed on the film by the MPAA.
In 1988 Parker directed the drama about civil rights, The burning of the Mississippi, starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, who was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Director for Parker and Winner of Best Cinematography. Parker was also awarded the DW Griffith Award for directing by the National Review Board. The film was nominated for five BAFTA film awards, winning three. She also won Silver at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1989 Parker wrote and directed Come See Paradise, a moving family story about the treatment of internally displaced Japanese-Americans during World War II, coached by Dennis Quaid and Tamlyn Tomita. A year later, he would do commitments, the story of a young Irish, working-class spiritual group that was awarded a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Picture and won the Parker Award for Best Director at the Tokyo Film Festival, as well as the BAFTA Film Awards for Best Editing, Screenplay, Director and Photography.
In 1993, Parker wrote and directed the comedy-drama, Road to Wellville, based on the novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack and Dana Carvey.
In 1996, he collected quite a few global titles when he directed, wrote and produced Avoid, based on stage music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. The much-talked-about film won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture.
In 1999 Parker wrote and directed Hira and Angela based on the Pulitzer meme, the best-selling memoir by Frank McCourt, starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle. Parker’s last film was The life of David Gale, the 2003 thriller about the cruel capital punishment policy in the US, starring Kate Winslet, Kevin Spacey and Laura Linney.
Parker was also the author of the best-selling novel written by his screenwriter Bugone Malone, published by HarperCollins. In addition he wrote two other published novels, Ponds in the lane, (1977) and The kiss of the sucker (2003). He was also a skilled cartoonist and painter.
In 1984 Parker was honored by the British Academy with the prestigious Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Guild Directors of Great Britain and the Lumiere Medal from the Royal Photographic Society. He was awarded Fellowship Bafta 2013.
Parker survives by his wife Lisa Moran-Parker, his children Lucy, Alexander, Jake, Nathan and Henry, and seven grandchildren.