Antonia Bird

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Antonia Bird
Antonia Bird.jpg
Born 27 May 1951
Kensington, London, England, UK
Died 24 October 2013(2013-10-24) (aged 62)
London, England, UK
Occupation Theatre, television & film director & producer
Years active 1968–2013

Antonia Bird, FRSA (27 May 1951 – 24 October 2013)[1][2] was an English television drama and feature film director[3] and producer.

Career[edit]

Bird began working in theatre as an assistant stage manager at Coventry Rep in 1968, aged 17,[1] working her way up in varying roles from acting to stage management through publicity and theatre administration to directing in repertory and regional theatres. She directed a season of plays at The Studio at Chester Theatre and later joined the Phoenix Theatre (Leicester) as director.[4]

She was named Resident Director at the Royal Court Theatre in 1978. She was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs, London's leading venue for new writing. Her first television production was Submariners (1983), an adaptation of one of her Royal Court productions which she directed for the BBC.[5][6] She was recruited by the originators and founding producers of EastEnders, Julia Smith and Tony Holland, to direct the series in 1985; she directed seventeen episodes.[7]

The originators of a new BBC series, Casualty (1986), then recruited her to be one of the series' first directors. Her reputation as a film-maker started to take off with her highly regarded six-part adaptation of Ann Oakley's feminist novel, The Men's Room (BBC 1991). Her next production was a feature length film adaptation of Joan Smith's novel, A Masculine Ending (1992).[citation needed]

Her breakthrough film was Safe (BBC 1993), based on the lives of a group of homeless young people in London's West End, which was awarded the Best Single Drama TV BAFTA; the film also won a British Academy Award and a clutch of festival prizes including the Edinburgh International Film Festival First Film Award and Best British Film at the Dinard Film Festival. The film brought Bird to international attention but was overshadowed by the success of Priest (BBC/Miramax 1994), which she directed immediately following Safe.[7]

Bird's film Care, broadcast in 2000, dealt with sexual abuse in a children's home, won the Best Single Drama TV BAFTA. She received a BAFTA Children's Award for the 2009 BBC documentary Off By Heart, about a national poetry competition for schoolchildren.[8]

She developed feature films with Sony, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Fine Line and some American independent companies. She returned to London[when?] to shoot Face (UIP/New Line 1997), a gangster film. She was back in the U.S. to develop the dark cannibal horror satire Ravenous with Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle and David Arquette (20th Century Fox 1999).[3]

In 2005, she produced her long-term project, Faith, a 4Way Pictures/Company Pictures production about the 1984–85 national miners' strike. She was an executive producer of the 2009 Iraqi film Son of Babylon.[9]

In 2010, she and TV writer Kay Mellor realised her story of Mellor's mother[10] in A Passionate Woman (BBC 2010), which the duo directed.

In 2012, Bird directed the first four episodes of the first series of Peter Moffat's BBC period drama, The Village.[7] Series 2 episode 1 finishes with the tribute 'For Antonia Bird 1951 - 2013'.

Affiliations[edit]

Bird was a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Directors Guild of America, Directors UK, BECTU, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.[citation needed]

She served on the Advisory Panel for Fiction Directing at the National Film and Television School. She mentored regularly for the NFTS, BAFTA's Youth Mentoring Programme in association with Media Trust and Women in Film and Television. She was Artistic Director of the first Sundance Middle East Screenwriting Labs held in Jordan. She taught a screenwriting course for University of Southern California graduate students visiting Pembroke College, Cambridge.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

Bird died from a rare anaplastic thyroid cancer on 24 October 2013 at the age of 62. She is survived by her husband, the TV editor, Ian Ilet.[1]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Film[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kate Hardie "Antonia Bird obituary", The Guardian, 28 October 2013
  2. ^ The day she died is given as 25 October 2013 in Obituary: Antonia Bird, telegraph.co.uk, 27 October 2013; accessed 30 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b Maane Khatchatourian. "Antonia Bird, Director of 'Ravenous', Dead". Variety. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Simon Farquhar "Obituary: Antonia Bird, Television director with a flair for gritty realism", The Independent, 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ Submariners, bfi.org.uk; accessed 30 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Play Not-Quite-For Today", TVCream.co.uk; accessed 30 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Antonia Bird at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ "Antonia Bird, film and TV director, dies". BBC. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Anderson, John (2 February 2010). "Son of Babylon (Review)". Variety. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Mellor, Kay (9 April 2010). "Kay Mellor believed ...". Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Ciecko, Anne T. "Sex, God, Television, Realism, and the British Women Filmmakers Beeban Kidron and Antonia Bird", Journal of Film and Video, Spring 1999, pp. 22–41
  • McCabe, Bob. "East End Heat", Sight and Sound, October 1997, pp. 10–12