Alan Parker, who directed Fame and Mississippi Burning dead at 76

Alan Parker, the British writer-director and two-time Oscar nominee who directed films as diverse as Fame, The Commitments, Midnight Express and Mississippi Burning, has died. He was 76.

Parker died on Friday (local time) in London, the British Film Institute said.

The multiple awards winner, whose other films included Bugsy Malone, Evita and Pink Floyd: The Wall, died “following a lengthy illness,” his family said in a statement.

Parker earned Best Director nominations for both Midnight Express and Mississippi Burning.

Parker blossomed in the 1970s, creating a rapid succession of celebrated and successful films, starting with the striking 1976 gangster musical comedy Bugsy Malone, which featured a cast of children, including a young Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.

His 1978 dark drama Midnight Express, about a US student who ended up in a Turkish prison, was followed in 1980 by the genre-setting American teen musical drama Fame.

Hollywood stars took to social media to pay tribute to Parker with Ben Stiller saying the director’s “real movies” “inspired” so many other filmmakers.

“Alan was my oldest and closest friend, I was always in awe of his talent,” said fellow British film director David Puttnam.

“My life and those of many others who loved and respected him will never be the same again.”

He also directed Pink Floyd’s cult musical The Wall in 1982, the US racial injustices drama Mississippi Burning in 1988, and the cheerful 1991 musical comedy drama The Commitments, based on the eponymous novel by the Irish writer Roddy Doyle.

Parker’s last major success came with the 1996 musical drama Evita, in which Madonna played the leading role of Argentina’s late first lady Eva Peron.

He collaborated with Oliver Stone on many of his works.

In 2015, Parker announced that he was quitting the movie business.

“I’ve been directing since I was 24, and every day was a battle, every day it was difficult, whether you’re fighting the producer who has opinions you don’t agree with, the studios, whoever it is,” he said. “Film … is hugely expensive, and the moment it gets expensive, you’ve got people you have to serve.

“You duck under the ropes and you get into the ring and I’ve been punching out all my life to fight for the work. Everybody’s who’s ever worked with me knows I fight for our right to make our movie the way we want to do it.”

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) said it was “deeply saddened” by the news, and the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science called Parker “an extraordinary talent”.


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“His work entertained us, connected us, and gave us such a strong sense of time and place,” it said in a tweet, calling him “a chameleon” for his ability to bend genre and change with the times.

– with AFP

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