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49 UP

Filmmaker Bio


MICHAEL APTED was born in England in 1941 and studied law and history at Cambridge University.  Apted began his career as a researcher at Granada Television, and within a few years, became established as a television director and investigative reporter.

Two of his television series won British Academy awards: THE LOVERS for Best Comedy Series, and FOLLY FOOT for Best Children's Series.  Apted himself won Best Dramatic Director for ANOTHER SUNDAY AND SWEET F.A. and KISSES AT FIFTY.  His other sixty-plus television credits include works by such leading English writers as Colin Welland, Jack Rosenthal and Arthur Hopcraft.

In 1972, Apted made his directorial feature film debut with the tense war era drama TRIPLE ECHO, starring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed.  Next, Apted's great love for rock and roll made him a natural to direct 1975's acclaimed STARDUST, a journey into the dark underside of the music world produced by David Puttnam and featuring David Essex and Adam Faith.  THE SQUEEZE, a thriller with Stacy Keach followed in 1977, and two years later, Apted again teamed up with producer Puttnam to direct Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave in AGATHA.

Shot in the Appalachian mountains COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER  (1980), marked Apted's first directing project in America.  The movie garnered 7 nominations including Best Picture and won an Oscar for Sissy Spacek's moving portrayal of country-western singer Loretta Lynn.  Next, he went to Chicago and the Rocky Mountains to direct John Belushi and Blair Brown in the comedy CONTINENTAL DIVIDE (1981).  He went to Helsinki, Finland for GORKY PARK (1983) with William Hurt, Lee Marvin and Joanna Pakula, and later that same year returned to England to shoot KIPPERBANG, a project which garnered him a British Academy Award nomination.  FIRST BORN (1984) was shot in America.  BRING ON THE NIGHT (1985) which won him a Grammy award, chronicled the creation of rock star Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles album and its subsequent concert tour.  CRITICAL CONDITION (1987) starring Richard Pryor was filmed in the United States.

In 1988 Apted traveled to the mountains of Rwanda and Kenya where he filmed GORILLAS IN THE MIST ; Sigourney Weaver's performance as the doomed conservationist earned her an Academy Award nomination along with four other nominations for the film.  In 1989, Apted traveled to the Soviet Union for the filming of THE LONG WAY HOME, a documentary about rock star Boris Brebenshikov, Russia's answer to Bruce Springsteen. Reaching back to his roots in law, in 1990 he directed CLASS ACTION, depicting Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as father and daughter attorneys who find themselves on opposite sides of a heated legal battle.

1992 marked the release of three Apted directed films - 35 UP, INCIDENT AT OGLALA and THUNDERHEART
In 1993, New Line Cinema released Apted's BLINK, a thriller filmed in Chicago which stars  Madeleine Stowe.

The 1994 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival premiered Apted's documentary, MOVING THE MOUNTAIN , which won the grand prize at the Heartland Film Festival and an IDA award.

Also in 1994, Apted directed the feature NELL which stars Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson  and Natasha Richardson.  The film garnered over $100 million in worldwide box office and Jodie Foster received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Nell.

In 1996, Apted teamed with actors Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman and Sarah Jessica Parker to film the medical ethics thriller EXTREME MEASURES.  He also filmed the documentary INSPIRATIONS, focusing on seven artists -- musician David Bowie, painter Roy Lichtenstein, sculptor Nora Narajo-Morse, architect Tadao Ando, glass blower Dale Chihuly, choreographer Eduoard Lock of La La La Human steps, and dancer Louise Lecavalier -- who speak on  the images, memories, ideas, other artists' work - the inspiration -- that has nurtured their creative process.

In 1998, Apted directed ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, starring Laurence Fishburne and also stars  Bill Cobbs, Natalie Cole, Bill Nunn, Brigid Coulter, and Cicely Tyson.

In November 1999, First Run Features released the latest installment of Apted’s life long work, the much anticipated documentary, 42 UP.

Also in 1999, Apted directed the latest installment in the James Bond serial  THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Dame Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn and Maria Grazia Cucinotta. Also in 1999 apted directed the documentary ME AND ISAAC NEWTON, and the feature ENIGMA, written by Sir Tom Stoppard and starring Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet and Saffron Burroughs.

In 2002, Columbia Picture's released ENOUGH starring Jennifer Lopez and Billy Campbell.

His documentary project for A&E Network, MARRIED IN AMERICA, premiered in June 2002. It is planned as a decade-long examination of nine marriages in Mr. Apted’s adopted homeland (he moved to the U.S. in 1980). Also in 2002, Mr. Apted filmed a documentary on the Rolling Stones for their Forty Licks tour.

On June 28, 2003, Mr. Apted was elected President of the Directors Guild of America after having served as a member of the National Board and as the Fifth Vice President. Mr. Apted also serves on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the documentary branch and is on the Board of Trustees for the American Film Institute.

In 2004, Apted filmed the first three episodes of a new series for HBO titled ROME.

Mr. Apted completed filming on the latest installment of the longitudinal 49 UP which was one the central programmes for ITV’s 50th Anniversary in 2005. Also in 2005, Apted commenced filming on THE WORLD 2006 (provisional title), a documentary following soccer and it’s global influence leading up to the World Cup 2006 with a forward look to the World Cup 2010, which takes place in South Africa. . He also filmed 6 spots for Nike’s ID campaign.

Currently (2006), Apted is in post production on the historic biopic, AMAZING GRACE, and the documentary MARRIED IN AMERICA 2.



In addition to his Grammy, Directors Guild Award and British Academy Awards, Apted has been nominated two additional times for the Directors Guild of America award: for the PBS production of Harold Pinter's THE COLLECTION, starring Sir Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates and Malcolm MacDowell, and for COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER.

In October 1999, Mr. Apted  received the International Documentary Associations’ highest honor , the IDA Career Achievement Award.


Under the defunct OSIRIS FILMS banner, a production company Apted started with producer Robert O'Connor, Apted executive produced:  CRIMINAL JUSTICE, made for HBO Showcase and starring Forest Whitaker and Anthony La Paglia;  DRACULA directed by Francis Ford Coppola;  and STRAPPED which marked the directorial debut of Forest Whitaker.

Apted has executive produced the documentaries 14 UP IN AMERICA
and AGE 14 IN RUSSIA which have along with 42UP premiered on
BBC in 1998.