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Fred Schepisi

Fred Schepisi

An eminent screenwriter and producer as well as a highly acclaimed director, Schepisi has received a host of accolades for his work. He is noted for his memorable collaborations with actors, working effectively in a wide variety of genres, and for his striking use of widescreen composition. He was voted Best Director for A Cry in the Dark by the Australian Film Institute, which was followed by nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay Golden Globes in 1989. The Australian Film Institute has honored him with three other wins as Best Director, Best Film and Best Screenplay for The Devil's Playground. Nominations in the categories of Best Director, Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay followed for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. The Berlin International Film Festival also nominated Schepisi for a Golden Bear for The Russia House. Recently, a group of influential Australians chose a list of their top ten films directed by a native director, and selected two of Schepisi's films, The Devil's Playground and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.

Born in Melbourne, Schepisi is one of the most gifted directors to emerge from Australia's New Wave of the 1970's. He made his debut with the half hour The Priest, in the four-part Libido (1973). He established his international reputation by writing, directing and producing The Devil's Playground (1976), about a young boy in a Catholic seminary and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1979), about a half-caste Aborigine who tries to adapt to white culture, but ends up snapping in a violent rage.

Schepisi made his U.S. debut with the acclaimed western Barbarosa (1982), starring Willie Nelson and Gary Busey, followed by the haunting science-fiction film Iceman (1984), and his film of David Hare's play, Plenty (1985), starring Meryl Streep, Ian McKellan and John Gielgud, who won the Best Supporting Actor Award from the National Society of Film Critics. His next film was the witty Cyrano de Bergerac adaptation, Roxanne, written by and starring Steve Martin.

Schepisi returned to Australia for A Cry in the Dark (1988, also co-wrote screenplay), the story of the media frenzy that surrounded Lindy Chamberlain (Meryl Streep), accused of killing her child. Streep received a Golden Globe nomination and Best Actress honors from the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Critics Circle. The thriller The Russia House (1990), based on John Le Carré's book and starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer, further demonstrated Schepisi's diverse talents.

Schepisi's next film, Mr. Baseball (1992), is a comedy about a fading baseball player (Tom Selleck) who is traded to a Japanese team. Six Degrees of Separation (1993), an adaptation of John Guare's celebrated play, stars Will Smith, Donald Sutherland Ian McKellan and Stockard Channing, who received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress for her performance. I.Q. (1994) is a romantic comedy about a young man (Tim Robbins) who is helped by Albert Einstein (Walter Mathau) to win the attention of his niece (Meg Ryan). Schepisi next was involved in the restructuring and revamping of the comedy Fierce Creatures (1997), which included some new filming.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Fred Schepisi Facts

Birth Name Frederic Alan Schepisi
OccupationDirector, Writer, Producer
BirthdayDecember 26, 1939 (83)
BirthplaceMelbourne, Victoria, Australia

Selected Filmography

Empire Falls
Mr. Baseball
Six Degrees of Separation
The Russia House
Baseball All-Stars 4-Movie Spotlight Series
Words and Pictures
Fierce Creatures
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