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Wednesday, 4 August, 1999, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Parker calls the shots
Alan Parker with Brad Davis on the set of Midnight Express in 1978
Alan Parker has just the right CV for the job of sorting out the British film industry.

He has made successful films, he cares about the business and he is a supporter of the Labour Party.

As the first chairman of the new Film Council, he will have the chance to right some of the wrongs he has complained about.

Scott Baio as Bugsy Malone in 1976
There have always been talented directors, producers and actors in Britain.

But too often they have had to go to Hollywood for the money to get things moving.

Alan Parker, who is 55, should have the clout and experience to re-write that story of under achievement.

He was born in the north London borough of Islington and is proud of his working class roots.

His first onscreen achievements were in TV advertising where stories have be told with pace and flair.

His campaigns included "Nice one Cyril!" for Wonderloaf and the Joan Collins/Leonard Rossiter classic for Cinzano.

On the big screen, he made popular movies which were also well received by the critics.

Bugsy Malone, in 1975, was his first feature film hit, with a child cast including Jodie Foster playing Chicago gangsters. It won five Baftas for him.

Midnight Express, in 1978, was a much more sombre work.

It was about a Western traveller caught with drugs in Turkey and contained some gut-wrenching scenes of brutality in a Turkish prison.

That won two Oscars and six nominations, including one for Parker as best director.

The serious side of Parker's movie making was repeated with Mississippi Burning in 1988.

Alan Parker on location
It was about the murder of civil rights workers in the American Deep South in the 1960s and starred Gene Hackman and William Dafoe.

The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including best director again for Parker.

The Commitments in 1991 was the story of a young Irish working class soul band.

It won Parker the best director award at Bafta and was nominated the best film as well.

In 1996, he directed Madonna and Antonio Banderas in Evita which won the Golden Globe for best picture.

As well as making movies, he has thought carefully about how to make the industry in Britain better.

In 1994, in the National Heritage Select Committee he complained about government neglect.

He called for a production levy on tickets, quotas for British films to be shown in multiplex cinemas and tax concessions for British stars.

His role in the industry has put him right up at the top of the list of the great and good.

The Committments from 1991
He was a founding member of the Directors' Guild of Great Britain and last year received their lifetime achievement award.

He has lectured at film schools around the world.

In 1985, he was honoured by the British Academy with the prestigious Michael Balcon award for outstanding contribution to British cinema.

All those credentials made him the hot favourite for the job of heading the new Film Council.

He may find that leading the British film industry into a bright new future becomes a bit of an epic.

See also:

04 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Evita director heads film council
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