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NAFA Chat: Bruce Beresford on Micromanaging

Wednesday, 21* November 2018
6.30pm — 8.30pm
The Horse, Surry Hills (formerly White Horse Hotel)
[More info] [Book tickets]

* This special event replaces the regular meeting of 19 November.

Guest Speaker: Bruce Beresford

Bruce BeresfordBruce Beresford

Early Career

Born in Sydney, Bruce is a 1962 graduate of the University of Sydney. Having moved to the UK to pursue a career in film, he was the Head of Production for British Film Institute Production Board (London) from 1966 to 1971, and also film advisor to Arts Council of Great Britain.

Film and TV

Bruce has directed over 30 feature films. Probably his best known film is Driving Miss Daisy (written by Alfred Uhry) which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1989. Other notable films are: Don’s Party (1976), Breaker Morant (1980), Tender Mercies (1983), Crimes of the Heart (1986), The Fringe Dwellers (1986), Black Robe (1991), Paradise Road (1997), Double Jeopardy (1999), Evelyn (2002), Mao’s Last Dancer (2009), and the two-part telemovie Bonnie & Clyde (2013).

More recently: Mr. Church (2015) with Eddie Murphy followed by Flint (2017) featuring Queen Latifah, Betsy Brandt, and Rob Morrow for Lifetime Television and Sony Pictures Television. In 2015 he helmed the final episode of the four-part remake of the miniseries “Roots”.

On screens now is his latest film Ladies in Black with Julia Ormond, Rachael Taylor, Angourie Rice, and Vincent Perez (which Bruce adapted for the screen with producer Sue Milliken).

Bruce wrote the screenplays for Money Movers (adapted from the novel by Devon Minchin), Breaker Morant (based loosely on the play by Kenneth Ross), The Fringe Dwellers (adapted from the novel by Nene Gare), and Paradise Road (an original script).

Awards and Recognition

Bruce Beresford on the set of 'Ladies in Black'On the set of Ladies in Black. Bruce was nominated for an Academy Award for the script of Breaker Morant and direction of Tender Mercies. Black Robe won the Canadian academy awards for best film and best director. In Australia he won best director awards for Don’s Party and Breaker Morant and best screenplay awards for Breaker Morant and The Fringe Dwellers. Mao’s Last Dancer won the audience award at 11 film festivals around the world.


Bruce has directed operas in Italy, USA, and Australia. In 1982 he directed the Australian premiere of Richard Strauss’s Elektra (71 years after its European premiere).

For Opera Australia he directed André Previn’s opera version of A Streetcar Named Desire (2007) and Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men in 2011. In 2012 he directed the Australian premiere of Erich Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (“The Dead City”) at the Sydney Opera House.

He has also directed Rigoletto for LA Opera, The Crucible for Washington Opera, Cold Sassy Tree for Houston Grand Opera, Sweeney Todd for Portland Opera, and La fanciulla del West (“The Girl of the West”) for the Spoleto festivals. In 2012 Of Mice and Men won Best Opera Production and Best Direction at the Green Room Awards.

Currently on stage is the Australian premiere run of Rossini’s Otello for Melbourne Opera.

'The Best Film I Never Made'


Bruce has also written an entertaining and indiscreet book about his film experiences titled Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to Do This… True Stories from a Life in the Screen Trade (published by Harper Collins in 2007). There’s a Fax from Bruce (edited correspondence between Beresford and Milliken) was published in 2016.

Text Publishing recently released an even more indiscreet book, The Best Film I Never Made: And Other Stories about a Life in the Arts.

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