Kevin Macdonald (director)

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This article is about the Scottish film director. For other people called Kevin Macdonald, see Kevin Macdonald (disambiguation).
Kevin Macdonald
Kevin Macdonald (cropped).jpg
Kevin Macdonald in 2010
Born (1967-10-28) 28 October 1967 (age 49)
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Residence North London, England
Occupation Film director
Years active 1994–present
Spouse(s) Tatiana Lund (1999–present)
Children 3

Kevin Macdonald (born 28 October 1967) is a Scottish director. His films include a documentary about the 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes, One Day in September (1999), the climbing documentary Touching the Void (2003), the drama The Last King of Scotland (2006), the political thriller State of Play (2009), the Bob Marley documentary Marley (2012) and is in progress of making the Whitney Houston documentary, which is due to be released theatrically in 2017.

Personal life[edit]

Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His maternal grandparents were English actress Wendy Orme and Hungarian-born British filmmaker Emeric Pressburger. He was brought up on a sheep farm in Gartocharn, Dunbartonshire.[1] He was educated at Glenalmond College, and St Anne's College, Oxford. His brother Andrew is a film producer. Macdonald is a second cousin of comedian Norm Macdonald.[citation needed]

In 1999, he married Tatiana Lund, with whom he has three sons, and lives in North London.


He began his career with a biography of his grandfather, The Life and Death of a Screenwriter (1994), which he turned into the documentary The Making of an Englishman (1995).

After making a series of biographical documentaries, Macdonald directed One Day in September (1999), about the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Possibly the most striking feature of this film was the lengthy interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, the last known survivor of the Munich terrorists (it has been suggested recently in Aaron Klein's book Striking Back that another, Mohammed Safady, might also still be alive). Macdonald found Al-Gashey through intermediaries, and was able to convince him that the film would only be truly authentic if Al-Gashey gave his side of the story. Since the former terrorist was convinced that Israeli authorities were still hunting him (he had been in hiding ever since being ransomed for a hijacked aeroplane less than two months after the Munich massacre), Al-Gashey agreed to the interview only on condition that he would be disguised, his face would be shown only in shadow or blurred out, and that the interview would be conducted by a person and in a place of Al-Gashey's choosing (which turned out to be Amman, Jordan), although Al-Gashey agreed that Macdonald could be present. Since the interview was conducted entirely in Arabic (even though Al-Gashey was known to be fluent in English, having been interviewed in the language in 1972), and Al-Gashey (through paranoia or annoyance) frequently stormed out of the interview room, Macdonald did not know if he had anything usable until he returned to London and hired an Arabic translator. The results spoke for themselves – the film won an Oscar for Best Documentary.

His next film was Touching the Void, which told the story of two climbers' disastrous attempt to scale the Siula Grande in the Andes in 1985. The film won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the 2003–04 BAFTA Awards – coincidentally, it was Korda who had given Macdonald's grandfather his first job when he had arrived in Britain in 1935.

Next was The Last King of Scotland, which won an Oscar for best actor.

He has also directed a number of television commercials with Rogue Films who represent him for all his TV commercial work worldwide.

Macdonald directed the film adaptation of hit BBC television drama State of Play, starring Russell Crowe.[2] He then directed The Eagle, an adaptation of the book The Eagle of the Ninth, about a Roman Legion in 2nd century A.D. in Scotland. Bobby Fischer Goes to War, his next project, is a film about the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavík, Iceland, in which Bobby Fischer took on the entire Soviet chess establishment.[3] In March 2010 it was announced that Macdonald was set to direct the psychological thriller Murder Mystery for Tower Hill Entertainment.[4]

Macdonald made a film called Life in a Day with producer Ridley Scott. The footage had been filmed by thousands of people all around the world about their life in one day and posted onto the world's largest video website YouTube. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to a global live audience, on 27 January 8.00pm EST.

On April 27, 2016, it was announced that Macdonald would partner with the film production team Altitude, who are behind the award-winning & controversially acclaimed Amy Winehouse film Amy (2015), on a new documentary film based on Whitney Houston's life and death. It is currently in progress and is scheduled to be released in 2017. This is the first documentary to be officially authorized by the estate that will tell the unvarnished and authentic story of the singer’s life in a film, including access to never-before-seen footage of Houston, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances and audio archive. Macdonald also will interview those who knew her best, including Clive Davis, founder and president of Arista Records. Macdonald stated; "The story that is never told about Whitney is just how brilliant she was as an artist; by many measures she had the greatest voice of the last 50 years. She changed the way pop music was sung - bringing it back full circle to its blues and gospel roots. She was also completely unique in being a black pop star who transcended her race globally with her work sold in countries where black artists don’t sell."[5]


As director:


  • Emeric Pressburger: The Life and Death of a Screenwriter by Kevin Macdonald. London: Faber and Faber, 1994. ISBN (Paperback ISBN 0-571-17829-4).
  • Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of the Documentary by Kevin Macdonald and Mark Cousins. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. ISBN 0-571-17723-9.
  • Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of the Documentary: Second Edition by Kevin Macdonald and Mark Cousins. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. ISBN 0-571-22514-4.


  • Ian Aitken (ed) Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film, Routledge, 2005


  1. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (September 11, 2012). "Remembering 'One day in September'". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. 
  2. ^ Michael Fleming (18 December 2007). "Norton exits 'State of Play'". Variety. Retrieved 18 December 2007. 
  3. ^ Richard Brunton (31 January 2008). "Kevin Macdonald directs Bobby Fischer". Filmstalker. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  4. ^ "'Zodiac' Writer's 'Murder Mystery' Finds Its Director". Bloody Disgusting. 
  5. ^ "Whitney Houston's life to be documented on film". BBC. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 

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