Bruce Beresford

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Perhaps the least lionized of the Australian New Wave filmmakers, Bruce Beresford has developed a reputation for drawing extraordinary performances from his actors, as well as enjoying great success making stage plays ... Read more »
Born: 08/15/1940 in Australia

Filmography

Director (36)

Cook 2015 (Movie)

(Director)

Bonnie & Clyde 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Director

Grand Lake 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding 2012 (Movie)

(Director)

Mao's Last Dancer 2010 (Movie)

(Director)

The Contract 2007 (Movie)

(Director)

Evelyn 2002 (Movie)

(Director)

Aria & Pasta 2000 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Director

Bride of the Wind 2001 (Movie)

(Director)

Double Jeopardy 1999 (Movie)

(Director)

Sydney: A Story of a City 1999 (Movie)

(Director)

Paradise Road 1997 (Movie)

(Director)

Last Dance 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

A Good Man in Africa 1994 (Movie)

(Director)

Silent Fall 1994 (Movie)

(Director)

Rich in Love 1993 (Movie)

(Director)

Black Robe 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Mister Johnson 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Driving Miss Daisy 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Her Alibi 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Aria 1988 (Movie)

("Die Tote Stadt") (Director)

The Fringe Dwellers 1987 (Movie)

(Director)

Crimes of the Heart 1986 (Movie)

(Director)

King David 1985 (Movie)

(Director)

Tender Mercies 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

Puberty Blues 1981 (Movie)

(Director)

Breaker Morant 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

Fortress 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

The Club 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

Money Movers 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

The Getting of Wisdom 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Don's Party 1976 (Movie)

(Director)

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own 1974 (Movie)

(Director)

Side By Side 1974 (Movie)

(Director)

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie 1971 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (8)

Paradise Road 1997 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mister Johnson 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Fringe Dwellers 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Breaker Morant 1980 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Money Movers 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Side By Side 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie 1971 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Producer (6)

Canvas 2007 (Movie)

(Co-Executive Producer)

Sydney: A Story of a City 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

Curse of the Starving Class 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

A Good Man in Africa 1994 (Movie)

(Co-Producer)

The Fringe Dwellers 1987 (Movie)

(Producer)

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own 1974 (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Perhaps the least lionized of the Australian New Wave filmmakers, Bruce Beresford has developed a reputation for drawing extraordinary performances from his actors, as well as enjoying great success making stage plays work on film. Much-acclaimed for historical dramas of social and moral conflict, he surprisingly first made his name with low comedy, delighting in juvenile scatology that horrified critics while regaling the Australian public. Though he had always wanted to make films, he had to leave his native country to do so, and when England proved inimical, he applied for and got a job as a film editor (and sometime cameraman) in Nigeria, remaining there until the Nigerian civil war broke out in 1967. Returning to England, he secured a position as a films officer for the Production Board of the British Film Institute, but on a visit to Australia in 1971, he found its film community in a state of high excitement over the formation of the Australian Film Commission. Within a matter of weeks he was back in Sydney, ready for action.

Relationships

Lona Beresford

Mother

Leslie Beresford

Father

Trilby Beresford

Child
mother, Virginia Duigan

Cordelia Beresford

Daughter
mother, Rhoisin Harrison acted in "The Getting of Wisdom" (1977) and "Black Robe" (1991)

Adam Beresford

Son
mother, Rhoisin Harrison was a camera production assistant on father's "Silent Fall" (1994)

Benjamin Beresford

Son
mother, Rhoisin Harrison has worked in various capacities (e.g., production assistant, property assistant) on several of father's films

Virginia Duigan Screenplay

Wife

John Duigan

Brother-In-Law

Rhoisin Harrison

Wife
She designed set for husband's "Don's Party" (1976); shared screenplay credit on "The Fringe Dwellers" (1985) Divorced

EDUCATION

University of Sydney

Sydney , New South Wales 1962

Milestones

2012

Directed Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener in the comedy-drama "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding"

2009

Directed the biographical drama "Mao's Last Dancer" based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin

2006

Helmed crime thriller "The Contract"; re-teamed with "Driving Miss Daisy" star Morgan Freeman

2003

Directed Antonio Banderas in the HBO biopic "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself"

2000

Staged Los Angles Opera production of "Rigoletto"

2000

Produced and directed the Bravo series "Aria & Pasta"

1999

Directed "Double Jeopardy," a thriller starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones that became a surprise box office hit

1999

Co-directed (with Geoff Burton) and produced "Sydney: A Story of a City," a 41-minute docudrama in the large screen IMAX format; backed by the Sydney City Council, this breathtaking and unapologetic piece of propaganda seductively sold Sydney, the home of

1999

Helmed the stage opera based on Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

1998

Announced as director of the TV adaptation of Alfred Uhry's play "The Last Night of the Ballyhoo" (unproduced as of fall 1999)

1997

Wrote and directed "Paradise Road" about female prisoners held captive during WWII in Singapore

1995

Executive produced and scripted Showtime adaptation of Sam Shepard's "Curse of the Starving Class" (did not direct); script changed considerably from the time it was finished until the time it premiered, prompting Beresford to say, "I know now why writers

1994

Co-produced and directed "A Good Man in Africa"

1993

Reteamed with "Daisy" producing team of Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck for "Rich in Love"

1991

First screenplay for an American feature, "Mister Johnson"; adapted from the Joyce Carey novel and also directed

1991

Directed the award-winning historical "Black Robe" about Jesuit missionaries in Canada

1989

Helmed the Oscar-winning Best Picture "Driving Miss Daisy," adapted from Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play; was ironically not nominated for Best Director

1989

Signed with HISK Productions in L.A. to direct TV commercials

1987

Directed the "Die Tote Stadt" segment of the opera anthology "Aria"

1986

Helmed "Crimes of the Heart," adapted from Beth Henley's play; reportedly took large pay cut (as did actresses Diane Keaton, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Lange) to ensure film was made

1985

Directed first opera "La Fancicella del West" at Spoleto USA Festival

1982

U.S. directorial debut, "Tender Mercies"; garnered an Academy Award nomination as Best Director

1980

"Breaker Morant," the greatest box-office success to that time of the Australian cinema earned the Best Film award from the Australian Film Institute and an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay

1980

Reteamed with Williamson in "The Club"

1977

Fourth film with Humphries (again only acting), "The Getting of Wisdom", garnered some international attention

1976

First commercial and critical success, "Don's Party"; first collaboration with playwright David Williamson

1975

Wrote and directed "Side by Side," a "staggeringly crass" musical that starred Humphries

1974

First feature as producer (also co-wrote with Humphries and directed), "Barry McKenzie Holds His Own"

1973

Turned to Australian TV, directing two feature-length, historical films, "Poor Fella Me" (also teleplay writer) about the destruction of Australian aborigines under white rule, and "The Wreck of the Batavia," telling the tale of Jeronimus Corneliusz, a re

1972

Feature co-writing (with Barry Humphries) and directing debut, "The Adventures of Barry McKenzie"

1970

Returned to Australia

1964

Worked as a film editor in East Nigeria; left at outbreak of Nigerian Civil War

1962

Sailed for England (a six-week journey) on the day of his graduation from university; once there, roomed with future critic-poet Clive James

1959

Offered scholarship to attend USC but couldn't raise airfare

Gained some experience as a film trainee with the Australian Broadcasting Commission

Worked in administrative capacity with Production Board of the British Film Institute, sometimes serving as photographer or editor; directed shorts on Roy Lichtenstein, Rene Magritte, and the sculpture of Picasso and Barbara Hepworth, among others

Moved to London to get into English film industry; blocked by unions

Bonus Trivia

.

"In the old days – only a couple of years ago – you'd make a film, show the studio the cut, they'd look at it and comment and then go away. It was often useful because their comments were quite spontaneous – they were comments that an average audience would make, comments like, 'It's too slow there,' or 'I didn't quite understand that.'"Now they all get videocassettes, they take it home and then not only run it back and forth as many times as they like, they can actually do their own little edits on it..." – from The New York Times, April 23, 1997

.

About working on "Last Dance" – "Disney would call and they'd say, 'We think you should do so-and-so.' And I'd say, 'OK, you told me this yesterday.' And an hour later someone else would call, that afternoon someone else would call, the next morning someone would call, all with the same thing. It never stopped!"Every day there were pages and pages, and they were doing all their cuts all the time. And a few times I just said to them, 'Look, either I'll cut the film or you'll cut the film, but we both can't cut the film because it'll end up a mess.'"I mean, I've kept all the notes and sent them to the National Library in Australia. I said: 'I want you to keep all these notes. They're going to be very interesting to some historian in the future.'" – from The New York Times, April 23, 1997

.

On his ability to portray the American South so well in movies: "Well, I think the only reason for that is that I've come across a number of good Southern writers. And they write...they seem to have this flair of someone like Tennessee Williams. Not that they write like him, but there seems to be a wonderful feeling for language. Beth Henley, Josephine [Humphreys], Horton Foote, Alfred Uhry – they all write in a different style, but they've all got a great ear."I mean, there's plenty of Northern writers like that, too, I guess, but I just haven't heard 'em! See, David Mamet, who everyone's telling me writes great dialogue, just writes people saying 'F*ck, f*ck, f*ck' all the time – I don't think it's very good dialogue. It's boring!" – Beresford quoted in Written By, June 1997

.

"I've always been interested in different cultures and different stratas of society other than the one I grew up in. I'll make one [movie] on one group and then, having said everything I've got to say on the subject, move onto something different and refreshing. I remember, as a kid, my favorite reading used to be atlases. I used to pick out countries at random, think that I'd love to go see what people do in that place and how they behave. By now, I've been to most of them." – Beresford to Bob Strauss in The Boston Globe, Sept. 19, 1999

.

On his part in Australia's cinematic blossoming of the 1970s: "It was exciting being a part of that group. There's a marvelous moment when you see your own culture put up on-screen, which had never happened before in Australia. There'd been a few, very self-conscious things that they used to load up with kangaroos and like that, but nothing measurable in real terms. But suddenly, there were all these films that examined Australian life; and the film renaissance put Australia on the global map and made tourism the country's number-one industry." – Beresford quoted in The Boston Globe, Sept. 19, 1999

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