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Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann has captured popular and critical imagination internationally with a diverse range of commercially successful projects in film, opera, theatre, music, multi-media and events. As the founder and director of Bazmark.Inq. and subsidiaries Bazmark Live and Bazmark Music, the huge commercial success of Luhrmann's projects reveals an instinctual ability to anticipate audience tastes, and to tap into the spirit of the times.

Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann's most recent feature film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, which he developed, co-wrote, produced and directed, opened the Cannes Film Festival in May 2001 and went on to open in the number-one position in the UK, France, Australia and Switzerland. Worldwide theatrical sales have surpassed $170 million and the film has been showered with many prestigious awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, National Board of Review and Producers Guild of America Film of the Year Awards, and two Academy Awards for production and costume designer Catherine Martin. (The film garnered six additional Oscar nominations including Best Picture.) Luhrmann also received BAFTA nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. He was also the executive producer of the film's two soundtrack albums, which went multiplatinum and have sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

Luhrmann is also renowned for his audacious adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet for Twentieth Century Fox, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Luhrmann co-wrote the screenplay, directed and produced the international box office hit on location in Mexico. The film opened in the number-one position in the U.S., grossing over $140 million worldwide and garnering numerous awards, including four BAFTAs (including Best Direction and adapted screenplay), two Berlin Film Festival Awards (again for Best Direction), a Golden Bear (Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio) and an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction for Catherine Martin. The soundtrack albums, executive produced by Luhrmann, went triple platinum in the U.S and have sold more than seven million copies worldwide.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet followed the international success of Luhrmann's film debut, Strictly Ballroom. Grossing more than $80 million at the box office, Strictly Ballroom premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Prix de la Jeunesse and a special mention for the Camera D'Or before going on to win numerous other international awards, including three BAFTAs and eight AFIs (Australian Film Institute awards).

The feature film Strictly Ballroom evolved out of a play that Luhrmann conceived, co-wrote, staged and directed while studying to be an actor at Sydney's National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). The play, which also began Luhrmann's long-term collaboration with writer Craig Pearce, was to have several further award-winning stage incarnations including a first run during Luhrmann's stint as Artistic Director of the experimental theatre company Six Years Old (for the Sydney Theatre Company), before eventually becoming a hugely successful film in 1992.

After NIDA, in between incarnations of Strictly Ballroom, Luhrmann served as the Artistic Director of another experimental theatre group, the Ra Project for the Australian Opera, where he created the critically acclaimed opera Lake Lost with composer Felix Meagher. This production marked the beginning of his collaboration with designer Catherine Martin. Lake Lost was followed by Dance Hall, a large-scale musical event staged by Luhrmann and Martin at the Sydney Town Hall. Several more original and classic operas followed, including their highly acclaimed 1990 production of Puccini's La Boheme for the Australian Opera, which was awarded a MO for Operatic Performance of the Year. The production was completely re-staged in 2002 and opened to enormous critical acclaim on Broadway. "Baz Luhrmann's Production of Puccini's La Bohème on Broadway" was nominated for seven Tony Awards (including Best Revival and Best Director for Luhrmann) and won for the ensemble cast, set design and lighting. After more than 200 performances, the opera toured to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in January 2004 for a limited engagement and was nominated for seven Ovation Awards, winning for ensemble cast, set design, lighting and sound.

Luhrmann has also staged his interpretation of Benjamin Britten's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, set in colonial India, for the Australian Opera. After successful seasons in Sydney and Melbourne, the production went on to win the Critics' Prize at the Edinburgh Festival. Also that year, Luhrmann, Martin and Bill Marron served as guest editors for a signature edition of Vogue Australia featuring Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue.

It was after William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet that Luhrmann set up his Sydney-based company Bazmark.Inq. and began working on his concept album Something For Everybody. The album featured the hit song Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, which entered the UK charts at No. 1 and went gold in the U.S., receiving extensive breakout radio play.

Under the direction of Catherine Martin, Bazmark then produced acclaimed Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan's 1998 Autumn/Winter Collection at the Louvre in Paris. The Bazmark Live team followed this up by conceiving and designing the streetscape for Fox Studio's Australia's backlot, producing as part of this the show Lights Camera Chaos, written and directed by celebrated Australian theatre director Barrie Kosky.

Most recently, Luhrmann conceived, produced and directed a groundbreaking worldwide cinema and TV campaign for Chanel No. 5 perfume, which featured his Moulin Rouge! star Nicole Kidman and Brazilian rising star Rodrigo Santoro. The campaign received the U.S. Cinema Advertising Council award for Top National Spot.

Australia is the first feature film to be produced as part of Luhrmann's new focus on a trilogy of epic works. This is his third collaboration with Nicole Kidman and the most recent project with his wife and creative partner of more than 18 years, Catherine Martin.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2008.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Baz Luhrmann Facts

Birth NameMark Anthony Luhrmann
OccupationDirector, Producer, Screenwriter
BirthdaySeptember 17, 1962 (55)
SignVirgo
BirthplaceNew South Wales, Australia
Awards1998 BAFTA Awards: David Lean Award for Direction (for Romeo + Juliet)

Selected Filmography

The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
Romeo + Juliet
Strictly Ballroom
Romeo & Juliet
Moulin Rouge!
Australia
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