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Bille August

Bille August

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 9, 1948 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brede, , DK Profession: director, screenwriter, director of photography

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A graduate of the Danish Film Institute, Bille August began his career in television and entered film production as a cinematographer on "Hemat i Natten/Homeward in the Night" (1977). The following year saw his first work as a director; he made both a short film, "Kim G.," and the feature "Honning Maane," which he also wrote. The latter was a generally well-received if small-scale study of a young couple which suggested a way with actors and an attention to character detail. August did not direct another feature, though, for five years, during which he worked in television and shot such features as "Man kan inte Valdtas/Manrape/Men Can't Be Raped" (1978), directed by Jorn Donner, and "The Grass Is Singing" (1981), a British-Swedish co-production about a woman having problems adjusting to Africa's bush country.August's work suggested a honing of his visual sense, but he was eager get back to directing. He returned to the helm with the first of two successful films (which he also wrote) about teen life, "Zappa" (1983), and followed up with one of Scandinavia's most popular films ever, "Twist and Shout" (1985), which also received a modest US release. Both films again reflected a bittersweet approach to...

A graduate of the Danish Film Institute, Bille August began his career in television and entered film production as a cinematographer on "Hemat i Natten/Homeward in the Night" (1977). The following year saw his first work as a director; he made both a short film, "Kim G.," and the feature "Honning Maane," which he also wrote. The latter was a generally well-received if small-scale study of a young couple which suggested a way with actors and an attention to character detail. August did not direct another feature, though, for five years, during which he worked in television and shot such features as "Man kan inte Valdtas/Manrape/Men Can't Be Raped" (1978), directed by Jorn Donner, and "The Grass Is Singing" (1981), a British-Swedish co-production about a woman having problems adjusting to Africa's bush country.

August's work suggested a honing of his visual sense, but he was eager get back to directing. He returned to the helm with the first of two successful films (which he also wrote) about teen life, "Zappa" (1983), and followed up with one of Scandinavia's most popular films ever, "Twist and Shout" (1985), which also received a modest US release. Both films again reflected a bittersweet approach to character study and, in capturing the rock `n' roll era of the 60s, suggested August's penchant for historical recreation. These qualities came to the fore in what has generally been regarded as his most successful film to date, "Pelle the Conqueror" (1987). The first of August's literary adaptations of epic novels, "Pelle" explored a father-son relationship through the grueling journey of Swedish emigrants trying to find a better life in Denmark at the turn of the century. Splendidly acted, especially by Max von Sydow, and filled with strikingly dramatic vignettes, the film was acclaimed internationally, winning an Oscar as Best Foreign Film.

August continued in this successful vein when Swedish film legend Ingmar Bergman chose August to direct the screenplay for Bergman's biographical study of his parents in the decade before he was born in 1918, "The Best Intentions" (1991). Originally made as a miniseries for Swedish TV, the film also played well in a re-edited version for the international art-house audience, who primarily read the film as reflective of Bergman's downbeat but nostalgic and moving sensibilities. Perhaps the most important aspect of the film for August, though, may have been the sterling performance of the actress Bergman chose to play his mother, for Pernilla August soon became the director's wife.

Despite the acclaim for his intense, well-acted and visually rendered historical character studies, some critics began to complain that August seemed to be leaning toward lengthy epics whose many subplots were just on the edge of sapping his films' narrative energies. These criticisms came to the fore when August directed his first English-language film, a disastrous adaptation of Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits" (1993). Critics found the famed cast, including Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, generally at sea and the director ill at ease with this would-be study of political and emotional turmoil in Latin America. After helming a few installments of the US adventure series, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" in 1992-93, August retreated to what would seem to be his terra firma, the Scandinavian miniseries, for his subsequent time and locale-spanning saga, "Jerusalem" (1996). Again August's effort featured an international cast in an epic marked more by highlights than by any one story. Hollywood talent again beckoned him, though, to helm a US-Scandinavian co-production, an adaptation of Peter Hoeg's acclaimed mystery "Smilla's Sense of Snow" (1997).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

4.
  Song for Martin, A (2001) Director
5.
  Les Miserables (1998) Director
6.
  Jerusalem (1997) Director
7.
  Smilla's Sense Of Snow (1997) Director
8.
9.
  Best Intentions, The (1992) Director
10.
  Pelle the Conqueror (1987) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1977:
Director of photography on "Hemat i Natten"
1978:
Directed first short, "Kim G"
1978:
Feature directing and screenwriting debut, "Honning Maane/Honeymoon"
:
Returned to cinematography for several years
1983:
Directed second feature film, "Zappa"
1986:
August's film, "Twist and Shout" (1985), is released in the United States
1991:
Directed first English-language feature, "The House of the Spirits"
1992:
Directed two episodes of the ABC adventure series, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles"
1997:
Helmed "Smilla's Sense of Snow"
1998:
Directed the unexceptional remake of "Les Miserables"
2001:
Returned to form with "A Song for Martin," detailing the effect of Alzheimer's disease on a married couple
2005:
Helmed "Return to Sender" (2005)
2007:
Directed "Goodbye Bafana" a film about the relationship between Nelson Mandela and James Gregory, his censor officer and prison guard; based on the book <i>Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend</i> by James Gregory
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Education

Christer Stroholm's Photography School: - 1969
National Film School, Danish Film Institute: - 1971

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wife:
Masja Dessau. Actor. Danish; divorced.
wife:
Pernilla August. Actor. Born on February 13, 1958; formerly married to screenwriter Klas Ostergren; chosen by Ingmar Bergman to star as his mother in the autobiographical family saga, "Best Intentions" (1992), directed by August; married in 1991; divorced in 1997.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Asta August. Born c. November 1991; mother, Pernilla August.

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