Specializing in dramatizations of real life events, Academy Award nominated British film director and screenwriter Paul Greengrass was shot to worldwide fame with his third feature film, “Bloody Sunday” (2002), which depicted the Irish civil rights protest march that led to the massacre of 13 participants by British troops on January 30, 1972. The film was an international success and won the writer/director many awards and nominations, including two Berlin International Film Festival Awards, Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award, a BAFTA nomination, and an Independent Spirit nomination. Also recognized for his use of hand-held cameras, Greengrass went on to receive a major victory in the U.S. thanks to the highly successful Matt Damon-headlined “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) and “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007). He took home a London Critics Circle Film nomination and an Empire nomination for the first film and a London Critics Circle Film Award, a Saturn nomination, two BAFTA nominations, and an Empire nomination for the latter. However, it was his outstanding direction in “United 93” (2006), a film based on the September 11th hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, which brought Greengrass his Oscar nomination and many other noteworthy nominations and awards. On attempting to stay detached when making the film, he said, “I felt the emotions. It was a very intense film to make but you have to remain detached in a way in order to keep it truthful. You can't make a film like this and not be powerfully involved. You feel it when you bring it to birth. But with a film like this, you have to do the best you can and then the audience must decide. They have to make their own minds up. All I know is that as a group we gathered together to try and explore what 9/11 felt like and what it meant in an honest, robust and mature responsible way with the support of the families. The families have seen the film and supported it and audiences have supported it.”
Geengrass' new film, “Green Zone,” is expected to be released in 2009. He will also direct “They Marched Into Sunlight” (2010) and an upcoming Bourne movie (2011).
Childhood and Family:
Paul Greengrass was born on August 13, 1955, in Cheam, Surrey, England. He was educated at Sevenoaks School and Queens' College at Cambridge University. Paul knew that he wanted to make films as a child. While in school, he directed many short super-8 movies by using items found in an art classroom.
Paul is a supporter of the Crystal Palace Football Club. His brother, Mark Greengrass, is a professor of history.
After graduating from Cambridge University, Paul Greengrass began his career with Granada Television, where he would spend ten years producing the documentary series “World in Action,” a work that sent him around the world to pursue stories. Meanwhile, he also co-wrote the controversial book “Spycatcher” with Peter Wright, an ex-secret service operative agent. The book was banned by the British government and postponed for publication until 1988.
One dream achieved in 1989 was when Greengrass made his feature directorial debut with “Resurrected,” a real story of a British soldier who is presumed dead and abandoned in the Falklands after the war with Argentina. Starring David Thewlis, the war movie won the director a Golden Berlin Bear nomination and the Interfilm Award - Otto Dibelius Film Award, and the OCIC Award at the 1989 Berlin International Film Festival.
Greengrass returned to the small screen to direct the 1992 episode “Coppers” of the award winning documentary series “Cutting Edge.” He also produced the episode. He then directed the TV films “When the Lies Run Out” (1993), which starred Alfred Molina and Amir M. Korangy, “Open Fire” (1994), about a cop scandal that involved a most-wanted felon in the U.K., “The One That Got Away” (1996), an adaptation of Chris Ryan's book about a Special Air Service patrol during the Gulf War, and “The Fix” (1997), which told of the story of a football star who is persuaded to fix a game. Also penning the latter three movies, Greengrass once again put on the writer's and director's hat with the based-on-true story television movie “The Murder of Stephen Lawrence” (1999), about a black youth whose murder was not properly investigated by police. For his efforts, he was handed a 2000 BAFTA TV in the category of Best Single Drama for his work on the film, an honor he shared with producer Mark Redhead. Greengrass also directed episodes of the hit crime series “Kavanagh QC” and the BBC documentary series “The Late Show” (both 1995).
The Surrey native revisited the motion picture territory in 1998 when he helmed Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter in “The Theory of Flight” (1998), a drama that dealt with the topic of sexuality of people with disabilities. The film won the Crystal Star for Best European Feature at the 1999 Brussels International Film Festival.
However, it was not until Greengrass wrote and directed “Bloody Sunday” (2002) that he was launched to international prominence. Describing the events of January 30, 1972, when British troops killed 13 Catholic civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry, the film became a worldwide hit and collected numerous awards and nominations. For his effort, Greengrass won the Golden Berlin Bear and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival. He also won the Audience Award for World Cinema at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, a British Independent Film for Best Director, Irish Film and Television for Best Director of a Feature Film and Best Script (Film & Television), an Audience Jury Award and Directors' Week Award for Best Film at the 2002 Fantasporto, and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, to name a few. He also received many additional impressive nominations.
“By the time I'd done 'Bloody Sunday,' I felt I reached the end of a chapter. I could feel it. I wanted to try something new, something different. Then to my amazement, 'Bloody Sunday' won lots of theatrical prizes, the Audience Award at Sundance, and then to my even greater amazement, I had the opportunity to make a film in Hollywood. I mean, you wouldn't think looking at my films, ‘Oh, there's a guy who's going to make films in Hollywood.’” Paul Greengrass
Following the massive success of “Bloody Sunday,” Greengrass made his first movie in Hollywood with “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), an installment to the 2002 film “The Bourne Identity” that was directed by Doug Liman. The spy thriller film, adapted from the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name and with Matt Damon reprising his role of Jason Bourne, proved to be a huge success with both critics and audiences. With an estimated budget of $75 million, “The Bourne Supremacy” grossed over $175 million domestically and earned more than $288 million worldwide. Among the many honors the film received, Greengrass picked up an ALFS nomination for British Director of the Year at the 2005 London Critics Circle Film Awards and an Empire nomination for Best British Director.
Also in 2004, Greengrass co-wrote (with Guy Hibbert) the made-for-TV film “Omagh,” which told about the bombing of Omagh in 1998. Directed by Pete Travis, the compelling drama brought Greengrass further notice when he was handed a BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama. He also earned the C.I.C.A.E. Award for Best European Film, Best Screenplay at the 2004 San Sebastián International Film Festival, and an IFTA nomination for Best Script.
2006 saw Greengrass return to his docudrama roots with “United 93,” which he also wrote and produced. Based on the September 11th hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, the controversial film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2006, and was released theatrically in the U.S. two days later. It has since grossed over $31 million domestically and $76 million worldwide. Greengrass won Best Director Awards at the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards. He received many additional nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
“I remember very distinctly being in the cutting room, cutting ‘Bloody Sunday’ when 9/11 happened. A friend of mine, who works at the Guardian, phoned and said get a television on because a plane had just hit the World Trade Centre. Then a week or so later, you could feel the bellicosity that inevitably resulted and the wondering what was going to happen next and suddenly ‘Bloody Sunday’ felt unbelievably relevant. Then it became obvious to me that I needed to do a film about 9/11. I was thinking about it in a really serious way when the July 7 bombings in London happened.”
After nabbing his Oscar nomination, Greengrass once again directed Matt Damon in the third sequel “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), which enjoyed an even bigger triumph than its predecessors. It won three Oscars and Greengrass netted a London Critics Circle Film Award for British Director of the Year. On the commercial front, the $110 million dollar film grossed more than $227 million in the U.S., making it the highest grossing film in the series, and nearly $443 million worldwide.
Greengrass is the director of “Green Zone” (2009), a film based on the “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” a popular book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The drama stars Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear. He will direct “They Marched Into Sunlight” (2010), which he also wrote the screenplay based on a book by David Maraniss, and the upcoming Bourne film, slated for a 2011 release.
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, British Director of the Year, “The Bourne Ultimatum,” 2008
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, British Producer of the Year, “United 93,” 2007
London Critics Circle Film: Director of the Year, “United 93,” 2007
London Film Festival: UK Achievement in Film Award, 2007
BAFTA: David Lean Award for Direction, “United 93,” 2007
Evening Standard British Film: Best Film, “United 93,” 2007
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Director, “United 93,” 2007
National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Director, “United 93,” 2007
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Director, “United 93,” 2006
San Francisco Film Critics Circle (SFFCC): Best Director, “United 93,” 2006
BAFTA: Alan Clarke Award, 2005
BAFTA TV: Best Single Drama, “Omagh,” 2005
San Sebastián International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “Omagh,” 2004
San Sebastián International Film Festival: C.I.C.A.E. Award, Best European Film, “Omagh,” 2004
Irish Film and Television (IFTA): Best Director of a Feature Film, “Bloody Sunday,” 2003
Irish Film and Television (IFTA): Best Script (Film & Television), “Bloody Sunday,” 2003
Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Berlin Bear, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Berlin International Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Competition, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
British Independent Film: Best Director, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Dinard British Film Festival: Golden Hitchcock, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Fantasporto: Audience Jury Award, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Fantasporto: Directors' Week Award, Best Film, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Jerusalem Film Festival: In Spirit for Freedom Award, Best Feature, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Motovun Film Festival: Propeller of Motovun, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, UIP Prize - Best European Film (Prêmio UIP - Melhor Filme Europeu), “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award, World Cinema, “Bloody Sunday,” 2002
BAFTA TV: Best Single Drama, “The Murder of Stephen Lawrence,” 2000
Brussels International Film Festival: Crystal Star, Best European Feature, “The Theory of Flight,” 1999
Berlin International Film Festival: Interfilm Award - Otto Dibelius Film Award, Competition, “Resurrected,” 1989
Berlin International Film Festival: OCIC Award, Competition, “Resurrected,” 1989