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Michael Winterbottom

Michael Winterbottom

In just a dozen years, Michael Winterbottom has shown himself to be one of the most focused and unflinching filmmakers working today, traveling the world to make 14 incredibly diverse films. In 2006, audiences saw two strikingly different movies from the director, THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO and TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK & BULL STORY.

A bold docudrama, THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO tells the story of the Tipton Three, three young men held without charges for two years in the notorious American prison in Cuba. Interviews with the three (directed by Mat Whitecross) are inter-cut with dramatizations of their hellish journey, which begins when one of them is to be married in Pakistan and ends when they are released, still uncharged, after two years in Gitmo. The film won the Silver Bear for Best Direction at the Berlin Film Festival, and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

Winterbottom indulged his playful side in A COCK & BULL STORY, his adaptation of Laurence Sterne's 18th century mock autobiography, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Steve Coogan stars as himself, playing the actor who plays Tristram Shandy and his father Walter in the film within the film. After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, A COCK & BULL STORY was nominated for BAFTA's Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, and for five British Independent Film Awards.

Winterbottom made IN THIS WORLD, the story of two Afghan refugees who entrust their fate to people smugglers, to raise the level of public debate about refugee issues. Shot in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the film won the Golden Bear, the Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Peace Prize at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival, and the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. Winterbottom won the Directors Guild of Great Britain's award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in British Film.

24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE took Winterbottom back to his home turf. A witty homage to Manchester's legendary 1980's music scene, the film stars Steve Coogan as Factory Records founder Tony Wilson. It was in competition at Cannes in 2002 and won Best Achievement in Production at the British Independent Film Awards.

Winterbottom first made his mark as a director on British television with projects including the 1993 BBC mini-series, FAMILY, written by novelist Roddy Doyle. In 1994, he made his first feature, the offbeat crime drama BUTTERFLY KISS, then directed GO NOW for the BBC.

He adapted his favorite novel, Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, for the 1995 film JUDE, starring Christopher Eccleston and Kate Winslet. JUDE premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes and won The Michael Powell award for Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

In 1996, Winterbottom was in competition at Cannes with WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, a drama set during the siege of the Bosnian capital and based on British journalist Michael Henderson's true story.

Rachel Weisz and Alessandro Nivola starred in Winterbottom's moody I WANT YOU, which competed at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998. He made the light-hearted sex comedy, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, in 1999.

His next film, the realistic drama WONDERLAND, marked a turning point in style and technique. Selected for competition at the 1999 Cannes and Edinburgh festivals, WONDERLAND won the British Independence Film Award for Best Film and was nominated for Best British Film at the 2000 BAFTAs.

Winterbottom based 2001's THE CLAIM on another Hardy novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, but set it during the California Gold Rush. An official selection at the Berlin and Paris film festivals, it stars Milla Jovovich, Peter Mullan, Wes Bentley, Nastassja Kinski and Sarah Polley.

He took a cast including Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton to Shanghai, Dubai and Rajasthan, India to film the futuristic CODE 46 in 2003. CODE 46 premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The following year, he cast unknowns in 9 SONGS, which marks the stages of a young couple's relationship through their sexual encounters and the concerts they attend.

Winterbottom was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England in 1961. After collaborating on FAMILY, he and producer Andrew Eaton founded their production company, Revolution Films, in 1994. He is currently in pre-production on his next film, GENOVA.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2007.
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Michael Winterbottom Facts

OccupationActor, Director
BirthdayMarch 29, 1961 (60)
BirthplaceBlackburn, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 11" (1m80)  How tall is Michael Winterbottom compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Shock Doctrine
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