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Antonia Bird

Antonia Bird

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: England, GB Profession: director, performer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This British-born director had already amassed an impressive resume of stage and TV credits when her first feature film brought her both a fame and notoriety neither she nor the studio had expected. The daughter of a failed actor, Bird ran away at 16 and got her start acting (and being Jill-of-all-trades) for a repertory company. She eventually distinguished herself, spending eight years directing productions on the "legitimate" English stage, notably at London's Royal Court Theater, before shifting to helming TV shows for the BBC (including much of the first season of the popular series "EastEnders" (BBC, 1985- ). Bird gained some measure of international acclaim with "Safe" (1993), a hard-hitting BBC telefilm about homeless teens on the streets of London. Winner of the 1993 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Single Drama, the movie was also a hit on the festival circuit; Bird garnered a Best New Director Award from the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Among her other TV dramas was the "Inspector Morse" detective mystery "Absolute Conviction," which was shown in the United States on PBS in 1995. Bird courted controversy with her provocative feature debut...

This British-born director had already amassed an impressive resume of stage and TV credits when her first feature film brought her both a fame and notoriety neither she nor the studio had expected. The daughter of a failed actor, Bird ran away at 16 and got her start acting (and being Jill-of-all-trades) for a repertory company. She eventually distinguished herself, spending eight years directing productions on the "legitimate" English stage, notably at London's Royal Court Theater, before shifting to helming TV shows for the BBC (including much of the first season of the popular series "EastEnders" (BBC, 1985- ). Bird gained some measure of international acclaim with "Safe" (1993), a hard-hitting BBC telefilm about homeless teens on the streets of London. Winner of the 1993 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Single Drama, the movie was also a hit on the festival circuit; Bird garnered a Best New Director Award from the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Among her other TV dramas was the "Inspector Morse" detective mystery "Absolute Conviction," which was shown in the United States on PBS in 1995. Bird courted controversy with her provocative feature debut ,"Priest" (1994). Scripted by acclaimed British TV writer Jimmy McGovern, the film told the story of a young, covertly gay priest (Linus Roache) whose ongoing crisis of faith and conscience deepens when he learns in confession that a teen parishioner is suffering molestation at the hands of her father. Vocally attacked by the religious right as anti-Catholic, "Priest" was defended by its director as an expose of intolerance and hypocrisy within the church and society at large. Bird followed up with her first Hollywood project, "Mad Love" (1995), starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell as troubled young lovers on the road. Although the movie met with a mixed reception, it raised her visibility outside of England. Returning to her homeland, she next unveiled "Face" (1997), a moody crime drama starring Robert Carlyle, who had also appeared in "Priest." She subsequently took over the reins on the period cannibal thriller "Ravenous" (1999) at the suggestion of Carlyle, who co-starred in the atmospheric horror film with Guy Pearce. Though the film was not a financial success, it later gained a sizable cult following. Bird went on to work primarily in British television, notably helming a 2006 TV movie revival of the popular series "Cracker" (ITV), a production that reunited her with McGovern and starred Robbie Coltrane as an eccentric criminal psychologist. In 2013, as she was directing episodes of the BBC period drama "The Village," Bird was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. She died that fall, remembered fondly by her various fans and colleagues, including her occasional collaborator Carlyle.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

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2.
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  Ravenous (1999) Director
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  FACE (1997) Director
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  Mad Love (1995) Director
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  Priest (1994) Director
7.
  Safe (1993) Director
8.
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  Absolute Conviction (1995) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1975:
Ran away from home at 16 an joined a rep company as performer and Jill-of-all-trades (date approximate)
1977:
Began directing at 18
:
Directed English theater for eight years, notably at London's Royal Court Theater
:
Began directing TV dramas for the BBC
1993:
Directed the BBC drama, "Safe", played on the festival circuit, winning various prizes
1995:
"Safe" screened at the Public Theater in NYC as part of a series entitled "Against the Odds: BBC Drama 1975 - 1994"
1994:
Feature directing debut, "Priest" (released in US in 1995)
1995:
Hollywood directing debut, "Mad Love" starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell
1997:
Directed the British crime feature "Face"
1999:
Helmed "Ravenous", a tale of travelers who turn to cannibalism
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Notes

"I believe very strongly that people make movies that reflect their personalities. And I have a fairly emotional, out-of-control personality at times. My intention in 'Priest' was to expose religious hypocrisy, to expose the deep intolerance not only in the Catholic church, but in society as a whole. The script hit me in the gut--and I set out to achieve in directing the reaction I had when I read it."--Antonia Bird, quoted in Entertainment Weekly, March 31, 1995.

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