Jump to content

Asif Kapadia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Asif Kapadia
Kapadia at the premiere of Senna (2010)
Born1972 (age 51–52)
Years active1997–present
Notable workThe Sheep Thief (1997)
The Warrior (2001)
Senna (2010)
Amy (2015)
Diego Maradona (2019)
SpouseVictoria Harwood (m. 2006)

Asif Kapadia (born 1972) is a British filmmaker.

Academy Award, BAFTA and Grammy-winning director Asif Kapadia has made his name directing visually striking films exploring ‘outsiders’, characters living in extreme circumstances, fighting against a corrupt or broken system. While he has worked in drama and documentaries, Kapadia is best known for his trilogy of narratively driven, archive-constructed documentaries Senna, Amy and Diego Maradona.

Amy (2015), based on singer Amy Winehouse, had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and it is the highest-grossing British Documentary of all time at the UK box office. It also won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the BAFTA for Best Documentary, a Grammy for Best Music Film, the European Film Award for Best Documentary and the Grierson Award for Best Documentary.

Kapadia directed the documentary film Senna (2010), based on Ayrton Senna (famous for his achievements in motor racing), which won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, the BAFTA Award for Best Editing and the World Cinema Audience Award Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2011. Senna was nominated for Outstanding British Film of the Year.

Kapadia's narrative debut The Warrior (2001), won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film of the Year and the Award for Special Achievement by a Director, Writer or Producer in their Debut Feature; the film was also nominated for Best Film Not in the English Language.

In 2019, he released the film Diego Maradona, based on Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, with Kapadia stating, "Maradona is the third part of a trilogy about child geniuses and fame."[1]

In May 2021, he released the musical docuseries 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, based on the book 1971 – Never a Dull Moment: Rock's Golden Year, by the British music journalist David Hepworth.[2]

Early life[edit]

Asif Kapadia was born in 1972 in north London, to an Indian Muslim[3][4] British family. He attended Newport Film School (formerly part of the University of Wales, Newport, now the University of South Wales),[5] achieved a first-class degree (BA Hons) in Film, TV and Photographic Arts from the University of Westminster[6] and an MA (RCA) in Directing for Film and TV at the Royal College of Art.

Kapadia has said he sees himself as a Londoner ("a Hackney lad"), northern European, with Indian family heritage. These unique characteristics helped to make him stand out as a film-maker when he was starting out.[7][8]

He has said:

“I’ve always tried to do things differently – because my point of view is different.

“I don’t come from private school, I don’t come from money. My family were not in the film industry. I’m not white, I’m brown, and my background is Muslim. My family are from India and are quite religious.

“As the youngest of five kids, my parents kind of let me do what I wanted to do. I was able to have a point of view, I wasn’t told, ‘You must do this’: I picked what I wanted to study, I never did A-levels. When I was at university, I would always argue with the tutors, because I would kind of have to do what they told me to do.

“Things like that were just me going, ‘I don’t feel that’s right, I’m gonna do this’. So I’m quite stubborn, I guess.”[9]


Kapadia's first feature film, The Warrior,[10] was shot in the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan. The film caught the attention of The Arts Foundation who in 2001 awarded him a fellowship in Film Directing. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian described The Warrior as possessing "mighty breadth" and "shimmering beauty";[11] the film was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning two: the Alexander Korda Award for the outstanding British Film of the Year 2003 and The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a Director, Screenwriter or Producer in their First Feature. The Warrior also won the Grand Prix at the Dinard Film Festival, the Sutherland Award at the London Film Festival, the Evening Standard British Film Awards for the Most Promising Newcomer and the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Film.

Far North premiered at the Venice Film Festival, based on a dark short story by Sara Maitland. Kapadia used the brutal arctic landscape to show how desperation and loneliness drives a woman to harm the person she loves. Kapadia's fourth feature, Senna, was the life story of Brazilian motor-racing champion, Ayrton Senna. Senna was the highest grossing British documentary of all time (£3.3m, $5.2m).

Kapadia's next film Amy was a documentary that depicted the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. Amy was released on 3 July 2015 in the United Kingdom, New York and Los Angeles, and worldwide on 10 July. The film has been described as "heartbreaking", "awe-inspiring", "unmissable", "the best documentary of the year" and "a tragic masterpiece". The film received five out of five star ratings when it was reviewed at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in May. The film has become the highest grossing British documentary, and second highest grossing documentary of all time in the United Kingdom, overtaking Kapadia's 2010 movie Senna.[12][13]

In 2018, a documentary film titled Maradona, based on Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, was released. Following on from Senna and Amy, Kapadia states: "Maradona is the third part of a trilogy about child geniuses and fame."[1] He added: "I was fascinated by his journey, wherever he went there were moments of incredible brilliance and drama. He was a leader, taking his teams to the very top, but also many lows in his career. He was always the little guy fighting against the system... and he was willing to do anything, to use all of his cunning and intelligence to win."[14]

In 2019, Kapadia was awarded as Honorary Associate of London Film School.[15]

Favourite films[edit]

In 2022, Kapadia participated in the Sight & Sound film polls of that year. It is held every ten years to select the greatest films of all time, by asking contemporary directors to select ten films of their choice.[16]

Kapadia's selections were:

In September 2019, Kapadia appeared on BBC Radio 4's The Film Programme in which he told presenter Francine Stock of his love for the Vietnamese gangster movie Cyclo by writer-director Trần Anh Hùng. He saw it when it first came out in 1996, when he was a film student, and it crystallised his ambitions for the type of film-making he wished to pursue. As he explained to Stock, "a lightbulb went off in my head" and his life was never the same again.[8]

Political views[edit]

In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, Kapadia signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."[17][18]


Year Title Director Producer Executive Producer Notes
1994 Indian Tales Yes Short film. 12 mins long.
1996 The Waiting Room Yes Short film. 8 mins long.
1996 Wild West Yes Short film. 1 min long.
1997 The Sheep Thief Yes Short film. 24 mins long.
2001 The Warrior Yes
2006 The Return Yes
2007 Far North Yes
2010 Senna Yes Released in 2010 in Brazil, 2011 everywhere else
2013 Monsoon Shootout Yes
2015 Amy Yes Won the 2016 Academy Award for Documentary Feature
2015 Ronaldo Yes
2016 Oasis: Supersonic Yes
2016 Ali and Nino Yes
2017 Mindhunter (TV series) Yes Netflix series. Directed episodes 3 & 4.
2019 Diego Maradona Yes
2022 Creature Yes
2024 Federer: Twelve Final Days Yes Yes

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Year Award / Film Festival Category Work Result Ref(s)
2011 British Independent Film Awards Best British Documentary Senna Won
Best British Independent Film Nominated
Best Technical Achievement Nominated
Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary Won[19]
Satellite Awards Best Documentary Film Won
Grierson Awards Best Cinema Documentary Nominated
Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award for Best International Feature Won[20]
Melbourne International Film Festival Most Popular Documentary Award Won[21]
Moscow International Film Festival Audience Award Won
Adelaide Film Festival Best Documentary – Audience Award Won[22][23]
2012 British Academy Film Awards Best Documentary Senna Won
Best Editing Won
Outstanding British Film Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Documentary Feature Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Documentary Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Awards Documentary of the Year Won
Technical Achievement Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Documentary Won
Cinema Eye Honors Outstanding Achievement in Editing Won
Outstanding Achievement in non-fiction Feature Filmmaking Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score Nominated
Audience Choice Prize Nominated
FOCAL International Awards Best Use of Footage in a Cinema Release Won
Best Use of Sports Footage Won
Special Award for the contribution to Archive Filmmaking Industry Won
Best Use of Footage in a Home Entertainment Release Nominated
2015 Hollywood Film Awards Best Documentary of the Year Amy Won
2016 British Academy Film Awards Best Documentary Amy Won
Outstanding British Film Nominated
Academy Awards Best Documentary – Feature Won[24]


  1. ^ a b "Film-maker Asif Kapadia: 'Maradona is the third part of a trilogy about child geniuses and fame'". The Guardian. 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Apple TV+'s '1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 May 2021.
  3. ^ "The Saturday interview: Asif Kapadia". The Guardian. 8 July 2011. My films often have a spiritual dimension which comes from my Muslim background, and I'm happy to tackle that in cinema.
  4. ^ "Asif Kapadia's 2012 Odyssey: the film that captures London's dark side". The Guardian. 24 June 2012.
  5. ^ "History | documentary newport". Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  6. ^ "An interview with Asif Kapadia". University of Westminster. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Asif Kapadia, film director". BBC. Retrieved 28 June 2024.
  8. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 - The Film Programme, Asif Kapadia". BBC. Retrieved 28 June 2024.
  9. ^ "'You've got to trust your gut' - Oscar-winner Asif Kapadia on new Roger Federer doc and stellar career". The Irish News. 21 June 2024. Retrieved 28 June 2024.
  10. ^ Matt Warren (24 August 2001). "Review The silent soldier The Warrior". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  11. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (10 May 2002). "The Warrior". theguardian.com. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  12. ^ "U.K. Box Office: 'Amy' becomes second biggest doc ever" Archived 1 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Cornerstone film.
  13. ^ "Amy Winehouse documentary breaks box office records". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Amy director Asif Kapadia set to make Maradona documentary". The Independent. 1 October 2017.
  15. ^ "ASIF KAPADIA ANNOUNCED AS HONORARY ASSOCIATE OF THE LONDON FILM SCHOOL London Film School". lfs.org.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Asif Kapadia | BFI".
  17. ^ "Vote for hope and a decent future". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  18. ^ Proctor, Kate (3 December 2019). "Coogan and Klein lead cultural figures backing Corbyn and Labour". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Award Screening Schedule". sundance.org. Sundance Institute. Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  20. ^ "2011 Winners". Lafilmfest.com. Archived from the original on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  21. ^ "People's Choice Award - Docos". miff.com.au. 24 August 2011. Archived from the original on 31 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  22. ^ Buckeridge, Julian. "Audience Awards Announced". Atthecinema.net. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  23. ^ "Adelaide Film Festival". Adelaide Film Festival. 15 March 2011. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  24. ^ 2016|Oscars.org

External links[edit]