James Marsh (director)

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James Marsh (born 30 April 1963 Truro, Cornwall) is a British film director known for directing the cult film Wisconsin Death Trip (1999) starring Marcus Monroe and Sir Ian Holm. He won 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for directing Man on Wire.[1]

Film career[edit]

Marsh began his early career in directing with several documentaries made for the BBC. His first TV documentary was the 90 minute, Troubleman - The Last Years of Marvin Gaye, and was followed by The 26 minute 1990 documentary The Animator of Prague starring Jan Svankmajer and his works. Later came The Burger and the King: The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, in 1995, and the Welsh musician John Cale, which was made in 1998. His relationship continued with the BBC as a producer in 1993 for 3 Arena series episodes.

In 2005 he directed the film The King which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

In 2008 he made the documentary Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Man on Wire won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 81st annual Oscars, the BAFTA Award for Best British film, the Independent Spirit Award, and many others. The film, called "exhilarating", has had a hugely positive audience response and was among the Top Ten Films of 2008 on many critics' lists.

In 2009, he directed the "1980" episode of Red Riding, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK.

He also directed Project Nim in 2010, which is based on the book Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human by Elizabeth Hess. It is a documentary about the landmark study conducted by Herbert S. Terrace on the subject of animal language acquisition and the subject of the study is a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky. Marsh watched different films to gain inspiration before making Project Nim. He watched E.T., Frederick Wiseman's Primate, and the Bresson film Au Hasad Balthazar. He gained the most information from Au Hasad Balthazar which is a fictional account of a donkey as it passes through various human owners. The structure of Project Nim reflects a lot from this film as we see the drama of the human world through the eyes of the chimpanzee.[3]

In 2012, he directed Shadow Dancer,[4] a joint Irish/UK production about the Irish republican movement, which was filmed in Dublin and London. The film features Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson and Aidan Gillen and a cameo from Daniel Tatarsky.

He is slated to direct Theory of Everything, a biopic on Stephen Hawking starring Eddie Redmayne.[5]


As an undergraduate, he studied at St Catherine's College, Oxford.[6] Marsh currently lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, with his wife and two children.[7]


  1. ^ "THE Q&A: JAMES MARSH, FILM DIRECTOR". 24 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The King". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "'Shadow Dancer' Begins Filming in Ireland". IFTN. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Child, Ben (13 June 2013). "Eddie Redmayne set to play Stephen Hawking in biopic". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ "12TH BELFAST FILM FESTIVAL : JAMES MARSH". 24 September 2013. 
  7. ^ James Marsh talks about Red Riding and the Ripper

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