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About the Filmmakers
FERNANDO MEIRELLES (Director)
Fernando Meirelles was recently an Academy Award nominee for Best Director, for his work on City of God. The feature adaptation of Paulo Lins’ novel Cidade de Deus, co-produced by Walter Salles’ Video Filmes, also received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay (Braulio Mantovani), Best Cinematography (César Charlone), and Best Film Editing (Daniel Rezende). The film won more than 50 awards around the world.
Born in Brazil, Mr. Meirelles attended university there, graduating with a degree in architecture. While at school, he made his first experimental productions, using U-Matic equipment and working with a crew composed of friends. The resulting projects won several prizes at the country’s earliest independent video festivals.
With the same group of friends, he founded the innovative studio Olhar Eletrônico (Electronic Glance), bringing new life to Brazilian TV in the 1980s. For a decade, the group produced a variety of programs for stations. In 1989, Mr. Meirelles created and directed the popular children’s series Rá-Tim-Bum, for Brazilian public television. The 190-episode series received the Gold Medal from the New York Film and Television Festival, in addition to numerous other awards.
He then began directing commercials and promotional videos. His independent studio, O2 Filmes, became the largest in Brazil and, over a 10-year period, received the most prestigious national and international prizes, including five Cannes Lions, several Clios, and nine Professional of the Year awards.
In 1997, Mr. Meirelles directed his first feature film, O Menino Maluquinho (Wacky, Wacky Boy), with Fabrizia Pinto. In 2000, he directed the “Palace II” (“Golden Gate”) episode of the television series Brava Gente Brasileira as a “rehearsal” for City of God. “Palace II” was re-edited as a short, and received the Best Short Film prize in the Panorama Section of the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival, among other honors.
Also in 2000, he directed his second feature film, Domesticas (Maids), with director Nando Olival, which was selected for competition at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Following the success of City of God, O2 Filmes has teamed with Globo Television to produce five episodes annually of the follow-up television series Cidade dos Homens (City of Men). Mr. Meirelles produces all of the show’s episodes and has also directed several of them.
He is in development on a new film, Intolerance, and is producing films from first-time Brazilian directors.
SIMON CHANNING WILLIAMS (Producer)
As the producer of Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies, Simon Channing Williams was an Academy Award nominee. In addition to the Best Picture nomination, the film was also an Oscar nominee for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Brenda Blethyn), and Best Supporting Actress (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Secrets & Lies won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the 1996 Cannes International Film Festival.
Mr. Channing Williams’ longstanding partnership with Mike Leigh began when he worked as first assistant director on the 1980 BBC television film Grown-Ups. After working together again, as co-producer of the BAFTA Award-nominated short film The Short and Curlies and as producer of the award-winning feature film High Hopes, the two men set up Thin Man Films to formalize their partnership.
The first Thin Man project was the feature Life is Sweet, which was applauded by critics, garnered awards worldwide, and won new international audiences for the director’s work. Next came A Sense of History, which was named Best Short Film at the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival. This was followed by several features: the multi-award-winning Naked; the aforementioned Secrets & Lies; Career Girls; Topsy-Turvy (which won two Academy Awards, for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup); All or Nothing; and, most recently, Vera Drake. The latter film’s numerous awards include the top prize, the Golden Lion, and the Best Actress prize at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival; and three Academy Award nominations, for Best Actress (Imelda Staunton), Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
Beyond the Thin Man works, Mr. Channing Williams has produced a variety of projects. These include Tony Palmer’s U.K. telefilm Puccini; Clive Rees’ When the Whales Came; Tim Sullivan’s Jack and Sarah; Doug McGrath’s Nicholas Nickleby (which received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Picture); Paddy Breathnach’s Man About Dog; and, most recently, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s Brothers of the Head.
He has been executive producer of the BAFTA Award-nominated Little Pig Robinson, directed by Alan Bridges; the short film The Pan Loaf, winner of a Silver Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival and named Best Short Film at the Cork Film Festival; and Irwin Winkler’s De-Lovely.
In 2000, Mr. Channing Williams formed, with Gail Egan, the independent production company Potboiler Productions Ltd.
JEFFREY CAINE (Screenplay)
Born in London, Jeffrey Caine was educated at the Universities of Sussex and Leeds. He taught English in schools and colleges for four years before becoming a professional writer.
An author of scripts for television and film, Mr. Caine is also the author of several novels. One, Heathcliff, tells the story of the “missing” years of Emily Brontë’s romantic hero, following his adventures in the criminal underworld of 18th-century London and his education there by a lady of fashion.
His television works include the police drama series The Chief, starring Tim Pigott-Smith and Martin Shaw, which ran successfully for five seasons on Britain’s Independent Television network and for which, as writer and series creator, Mr. Caine was nominated for a British Television Society Award.
His screenplays include GoldenEye, directed by Martin Campbell, which established Pierce Brosnan as James Bond; and Rory O’Shea Was Here, directed by Damien O’Donnell and also released by Focus Features. The latter film won the Audience Award at the 2004 Edinburgh International Film Festival, and Mr. Caine was honored with the Irish Film and Television (IFTA) Award for Best Script.
JOHN le CARRÉ (Author)
John le Carré is the nom de plume of David John Moore Cornwell, who was born in Poole, Dorset.
Mr. Cornwell was educated at Sherborne School, at the University of Berne (where he studied German literature for a year) and at Lincoln College, Oxford. He graduated from the latter with a first-class honors degree in modern languages.
He taught at Eton from 1956 to 1958, and was a member of the British Foreign Service from 1959 to 1964, serving first as Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Bonn and subsequently as Political Consul in Hamburg.
He started writing novels in 1961, and since then has published the following titles, nineteen in total: Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, The Looking Glass War, A Small Town in Germany, The Naïve and Sentimental Lover, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley’s People, The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, The Secret Pilgrim, The Night Manager, Our Game, The Tailor of Panama, Single & Single, The Constant Gardener, and Absolute Friends. Several of the novels have been made into film or television productions.
Mr. Cornwell is an Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, and has Honorary Doctorates at Exeter University, The University of St. Andrews, Bath University, The University of Southampton, and The University of Plymouth.
GAIL EGAN (Executive Producer)
In 2000, Gail Egan formed, with Simon Channing Williams, the independent production company Potboiler Productions Ltd.
In addition to The Constant Gardener, Ms. Egan has been executive producer on Mike Leigh’s multi-award-winning Vera Drake; Douglas McGrath’s Nicholas Nickleby (which received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Picture); Irwin Winkler’s De-Lovely; and Paddy Breathnach’s Man About Dog.
She most recently produced Potboiler’s Brothers of the Head, directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe.
Ms. Egan is also a qualified barrister. She practiced commercial law at Lincoln’s Inn before joining Price Waterhouse Corporate Finance. She later worked for the international media group Carlton Communications.
ROBERT JONES (Executive Producer)
For approaching 25 years, Robert Jones has worked as a producer, distributor, acquisitions executive, and funder of feature films. In 2005, he became president of Material Entertainment, the production company owned and distributed worldwide by New Line Cinema and U.K. distributor Entertainment.
Mr. Jones’ track record entails not only working with established filmmakers but also identifying and developing new talent. Two of the latter were Bryan Singer and Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom he partnered on their respective breakthrough films, The Usual Suspects (winner of two Academy Awards and two BAFTA Awards) and Hard Eight (a.k.a. Sydney).
He has also executive-produced such notable films as Robert Altman’s Academy Award-winning Gosford Park; Patrice Leconte’s L’homme du train (The Man on the Train); David Mackenzie’s Young Adam; Michael Radford’s The Merchant of Venice; Mike Leigh’s multi-award-winning Vera Drake; and Gary Chapman’s U.K. CGI-animated hit Valiant.
Beginning in the early 1980s, as director of acquisitions for the independent film company Palace Pictures, Mr. Jones acquired such titles as Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies; Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…; Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot; and Robert Altman’s The Player. He built the company’s library catalogue to upwards of 150 titles. Subsequently, for PolyGram Distribution and German distributor NEF2, he acquired such films as Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave.
He next segued into film production full-time with John Duigan’s Sirens and Christopher Monger’s The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, both starring Hugh Grant. Having formed Jonescompany Productions in 1996, he developed and produced, among other features, Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, starring Audrey Tautou and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film topped the British Independent Film Awards with four wins, and also earned Academy Award and BAFTA Award nominations.
In late 2000, Mr. Jones began a four-year term as head of the U.K. Film Council’s Premiere Fund. In addition to heading Material Entertainment, he is currently a consultant with the ACE program.
Mr. Jones has taught students production at the Media Business School, EICTV in Cuba, and EMAM in Rome; is an external examiner at the London College of Communications; and sits on the Advisory Boards of both the British Independent Film Association and The Script Factory.
DONALD RANVAUD (Executive Producer)
Donald Ranvaud is one of the founders of Buena Onda Films, a sales agent and production company which is working with The Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles and producer Simon Channing Williams, among other filmmakers.
Buena Onda’s current slate includes a wealth of projects all over the globe, many showcasing new filmmaking talent. Among these features, all to be produced by Mr. Ranvaud, are Paul Castro’s Rainbow Black, to star Shirley MacLaine; Beniamo Catena’s The Sinai Man, to star Fabrizio Bentivoglio; and Julie Delpy’s Tell Me, to star Ethan Hawke and Adam Goldberg.
A former university professor, Mr. Ranvaud founded the independent film magazine Framework in 1975, editing it until 1988. During that time, he also freelanced for other publications; directed documentaries and co-directed a feature, Visioni Private; and segued into producing with Atom Egoyan’s Speaking Parts (as executive producer) and other features.
In 1989, he joined Renee Goddard in starting the European SCRIPT Fund (part of the MEDIA Program of the Commission of the European Community). As the 1990s began, he embarked on production full-time with two memorable features from director Chen Kaige, Life on a String and the multi-award-winning Farewell My Concubine.
Working with Latin American filmmakers and in Brazil, Mr. Ranvaud has since produced a number of features, including Karim Ainouz’ Madame Satã.
He executive-produced Walter Salles’ Central Station, which won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and received a host of other honors, including a Golden Globe Award; and was co-producer of Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, which earned four Academy Award nominations.
JEFF ABBERLEY and JULIA BLACKMAN (Executive Producers)
In August 2002, Jeff Abberley and Julia Blackman established Scion Films. This filmmaking partnership was initiated with the aim of financing and producing British feature films of significance.
In addition to The Constant Gardener, Scion’s projects to date include Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story (a.k.a. Tristram Shandy), starring Steve Coogan; Joel Schumacher’s worldwide success The Phantom of the Opera; Antoine de Caunes’ Monsieur N., starring Philippe Torreton and Richard E. Grant; Mary McGuckian’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey (starring Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates, and Harvey Keitel) and Rag Tale (starring Rupert Graves, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Malcolm McDowell); Richard E. Grant’s Wah-Wah, starring Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, and Miranda Richardson; and (also for Focus Features) Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley.
Immediately prior to forming Scion, Mr. Abberley and Ms. Blackman together for two-and-one-half years ran the film financing arm of Future Film Group (FFG) which was involved in U.K. film financing, production distribution, and post-production. Mr. Abberley was one of the founding partners of the company and was director of the group with Ms. Blackman, who was also a lawyer for FFG. The company was involved in the financing and production of, among other films, Gurinder Chadha’s sleeper hit Bend It Like Beckham; Fred Schepisi’s all-star Last Orders; Mike Barker’s To Kill a King; Nick Hurran’s Undertaking Betty; and Liliana Cavani’s Ripley’s Game.
Mr. Abberley previously was an advisor on production financing for film and television projects.
Ms. Blackman previously was a tax lawyer who advised on film financing structures and tax issues for clients with film and television projects.
TRACEY SEAWARD (Co-Producer)
Tracey Seaward produced Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, which was a BAFTA, WGA, and Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay; and won several awards, including the London Evening Standard Award for Best British Film, the San Diego Film Critics Society award for Best Picture, and the top prize at the British Independent Film Awards. She will be reteaming with the director on a new movie, The Queen, which will begin shooting in the fall of 2005.
Her first feature film producing credit was on John Irvin’s Widow’s Peak, as co-producer. She then produced Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s Nothing Personal, for which Ian Hart was cited as Best Supporting Actor at the 1995 Venice International Film Festival.
Ms. Seaward’s subsequent films as producer have included Pat Murphy’s Nora, starring Ewan McGregor as James Joyce. She was co-producer of Neil Jordan’s The Good Thief and Danny Boyle’s Millions.
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