British filmmaker and documentarian Michael Apted died Thursday night in LA.
Directors Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme said,
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of esteemed director, longtime DGA leader and my friend Michael Apted. His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our Guild.
A fearless visionary as a director and unparalleled Guild leader, Michael saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t, and we were all the beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication.”
His list of great films is a mile long including, Gorky Park, Gorillas in the Mist, Nell, and the Bond film The World is Not Enough, as well as the third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Apted won the Golden Globe for best picture for Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980 and Sissy Spacek the Oscar for Best Actress for her starring role as Loretta Lynn.
His legendary, long-running documentary, is the moving Up series, which followed the lives of more than a dozen Brits over the course of decades beginning with Seven Up. Starting at age 7, films were produced every seven years, revisiting how each of the lives had changed up to old age in the 9th and final production, 63 Up.
Apted was president of the DGA from 2003 to 2009. Steven Soderbergh, director and co-founder of the Guild’s Independent Directors Committee with Apted, said,
“I spent countless hours literally two feet from Michael and loved every minute of it. Apart from his own remarkable body of work, what he gave to the DGA can’t be measured; he put his entire BEING into the Guild, and inspired us all to follow his example.
We were lucky to have him and to know him.”
In 2009, Apted was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in the entertainment industries.
No details about his death were immediately available.
Michael Apted was 79.
This trailer for his remarkable Up series, shows it to be what it is. One of THE greatest cinematic achievements ever. Truly.
(Photo, YouTube; via CNN)