Roland Joffé during the 5th International Festival of Independent Cinema Off Plus Camera in Kraków, 2012
17 November 1945 |
London, England, UK
|Occupation||Film director, producer, screenwriter|
|Spouse(s)||Jane Lapotaire (m. 1974–80)|
|Children||Rowan Joffé, Nathalie Lunghi|
Roland Joffé (born 17 November 1945) is an English-born French film director who is known for his Oscar nominated movies The Killing Fields and The Mission. He began his career in television. His early television credits included episodes of Coronation Street and an adaptation of The Stars Look Down for Granada. He gained a reputation for hard-hitting political stories with the series Bill Brand and factual dramas for Play for Today.
Joffé was educated at two independent schools: the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London, and Carmel College in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, which was Europe's only Jewish boarding school, until it closed in 1997. He completed his formal education at the University of Manchester.
After university, Joffé joined Granada Television as a trainee director in 1973, where he directed episodes of the TV series Coronation Street, Sam, The Stars Look Down, Crown Court, Bill Brand, and Headmaster.
In 1977, producer Tony Garnett was commissioned by the BBC to direct the play The Spongers within BBCs Play for Today series. He informed the BBC drama department that he wanted to hire Roland Joffé as director, but was told that Joffé did not possess BBC clearance and was regarded a "security risk". The reason was that Joffé had attended some Workers' Revolutionary Party meetings in the early 1970s, although he never became a party member. He explained around 1988: "I was very interested in politics at that time. But I was interested in what all the political parties were doing, not just the WRP, and I was never actively involved." Only after Garnett threatened he would "go public", was the veto on Joffé's appointment withdrawn. The Spongers won the prestigious Prix Italia award.
Later in 1977, Joffé also directed an episode in BBC's Second City Firsts, and in 1978 he directed two more plays for Play for Today: The Legion Hall Bombing and United Kingdom. In 1979, he directed the TV play No, Mama, No by Verity Bargate for the ITV Playhouse series, and in 1980 he made a version of 17th century dramatist John Ford's play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore as a TV film for the BBC.
Roland Joffé's first two feature films (The Killing Fields, 1984, and The Mission, 1986) each garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Joffé worked closely with producer David Puttnam on each film. The Killing Fields detailed the friendship of two men, an American journalist for The New York Times, and his translator, a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge in Communist Cambodia. It won three Academy Awards (for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing) and was nominated for four more (including Best Picture and Best Director). The Mission was a story of conflict between Jesuit missionaries in South America, who were trying to convert the Guaraní Indians, and the Portuguese and Spanish colonisers, who wanted to enslave the natives. In an interview with Thomas Bird, Joffé says of The Mission, "The Indians are innocent. The film is about what happens in the world . . . what that innocence brings out in us. You would sit in a cinema in New York, or in Tokyo, or Paris, and for that point of time you would be joined with your companions on this planet. You would come out with a real sense of a network.". The film won the Palme d'Or and Technical Grand Jury Prize at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival. It achieved six Academy Awards nominations—including for Best Picture, Best Director, and Ennio Morricone's acclaimed Best Original Score—and won one, for Best Cinematography.
Since his initial acclaim, Joffé's film career has been less successful. In 1993, he produced and partially directed a big budget adaptation of the video game Super Mario Bros.. The film struggled to make back its budget. His 1995 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was a critical and financial disaster, and his 2007 horror film Captivity drew controversy with its advertising billboards, widely regarded as exploitative and misogynistic. He received Razzie Nominations for Worst Director for The Scarlet Letter and Captivity.
His latest release, There Be Dragons, garnered press attention as it dealt with the Catholic organisation Opus Dei. A movie about faith and forgiveness, There Be Dragons is a project that Joffé says has a message he's proud to say on film. In an interview with CBN.com, he stated, "I have a very deep emotional investment in this film. I feel that I really want to stand behind what it says to us as human beings."
- Coronation Street (1973-1974, 4 episodes)
- Sam (1974-1975, 4 episodes)
- The Stars Look Down (1975) (6 episodes)
- Crown Court (1976, 4 episodes)
- Bill Brand (1976, 5 episodes)
- Headmaster (1977, 3 episodes)
- Second City Firsts (1977, 1 episode)
- The Spongers (1978)
- The Legion Hall Bombing (1978, uncredited)
- No, Mama, No (1979)
- United Kingdom (1981)
- The Killing Fields (1984)
- The Mission (1986)
- Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
- City of Joy (1992)
- Super Mario Bros. (uncredited, 1993)
- The Scarlet Letter (1995)
- Goodbye Lover (1999)
- Undressed (1 episode, 2002)
- Vatel (2000)
- Captivity (2007)
- You and I (2010)
- There Be Dragons (2010)
- The Lovers (2013)
- Texas Rising (2015)
Awards and nominations
- 1985: Best Direction (The Killing Fields, nominated)
- 1987: Best Direction (The Mission, nominated)
- 1987: Best Film (The Mission, nominated)
- 1996: Worst Picture (The Scarlet Letter, nominated)
- 1996: Worst Remake Or Sequel (The Scarlet Letter, won)
- 1996: Worst Director (The Scarlet Letter, nominated)
- 2008: Worst Director (Captivity, nominated)
- 1978: The Spongers
Joffé is of Jewish descent. He is not related to the French film director Arthur Joffé as often wrongly stated. Joffé's adopted grandfather was the renowned sculptor Jacob Epstein. He is an agnostic.
Joffé was formerly married to actress Jane Lapotaire and had a relationship with actress Cherie Lunghi. He has a son, Rowan Joffé (b. 1973), with the former, and a daughter, Nathalie Lunghi (b. 1986), with the latter.
Joffé is a board member of the nonprofit organization Operation USA. He was the official patron of the 2011 Cambodia Volleyball World Cup held from 23 to 29 July at the National Olympic Stadium Phnom Penh.
- "Roland Joffé". Findmypast.co.uk.
- The Independent, 5 October 2007: Roland Joffé: Why the director is a victim of his own success Retrieved 2013-03-06
- IMDb: Roland Joffé Filmography Retrieved 2013-03-06
- Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylior Blacklist: The Inside Story of Political Vetting, London: Hogarth Press, 1988, p.97-99. The relevant extract from this book is here.
- At that time, the WRP was known as the Socialist Labour League, but Hollingsworth and Norton-Taylor use the later form.
- Blacklist, p.98
- Bird, Thomas. "Roland Joffé ", BOMB Magazine Winter, 1987. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
- Roland Joffé's new film Mission: to uncover secrets of the Opus Dei The Guardian. 8 June 2009
- Bringing a Saint’s Life to the Screen The New York Times. 22 August 2009
- Director Roland Joffé Explains "There Be Dragons", CBN.com.
- Prix Italia, Winners 1949 - 2010, RAI
- Roland Joffé Interview to the National Catholic Register
- "Strictly Come Dancing's Cherie Lunghi had sham marriage". Mirror.co.uk. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
- "Roland Joffé Announced as Patron of World Cup". Volleyball World Cup. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
- Official website
- Roland Joffé at the Internet Movie Database
- Roland Joffé at WN
- BOMB Magazine interview with Roland Joffé by Thomas Bird (Winter, 1987)