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David Mackenzie (director)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Mackenzie
David McKenzie (29565430395).jpg
Mackenzie in 2016
Born (1966-05-10) 10 May 1966 (age 55)
Alma materDJCAD
OccupationFilm director
OrganizationSigma Films

David Mackenzie (born 10 May 1966) is a Scottish film director and co-founder of the Glasgow-based production company Sigma Films.[1] He has made ten feature films including Young Adam (2003), Hallam Foe (2007), Perfect Sense (2011) and Starred Up (2013).[2] In 2016, Mackenzie's film Hell or High Water premiered at Cannes and was theatrically released in the United States in August. The same year he executive produced Damnation - a TV pilot for Universal & USA Network. Mackenzie also directed Outlaw King (2018), a historical film for Netflix.

Mackenzie and his films have been described as not fitting neatly into any particular genre or type.[3][4]

Life and career

After studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Mackenzie began his directorial career with a series of well-regarded shorts, the first being Dirty Diamonds (1994). After that came California Sunshine (1997), Somersault (1999) and Marcie's Dowry (2000). All were nominated and won numerous awards internationally.[5]

Mackenzie's debut feature film is titled The Last Great Wilderness (2002). His brother, actor Alastair Mackenzie, plays a character looking to exact revenge by burning down his wife's lover's house in the Highlands. The film begins as a comedy gangster thriller, then wanders into horror film territory before subverting all expectations and delivering something altogether different instead.[6] It premiered at TIFF in 2002.

He followed this with his acclaimed adaptation of Scots beat writer Alexander Trocchi's cult novel,[7] Young Adam (2003). It features Ewan McGregor as a young drifter working on a river barge as he disrupts his employers' lives while hiding the fact that he knows more about a dead woman found in the river than he admits. Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer also star.[8] The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2003, and played TIFF and Telluride, winning Best Film and Best Director at the 2004 BAFTA Scotland awards. Tilda Swinton and Ewan McGregor both won Scottish BAFTAs for their performances.[9] The film also won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature at EIFF,[10] and British Newcomer of the Year at the London Critics Circle Awards[11] and was nominated for four BIFA nominations[12] and several European Film Academy Awards.[13]

In 2005 Mackenzie directed Asylum, adapted from Patrick McGrath's book and starring Natasha Richardson, Sir Ian McKellen, Hugh Bonneville and Marton Coskas. It follows Richardson's character as she becomes very curious about one of her psychiatrist husband's inmates, a man who was found guilty in the murder and disfigurement of his former wife. It was nominated for Berlin's Golden Bear[14] and won the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival.[15]

Next, Mackenzie directed the highly regarded Hallam Foe, starring Jamie Bell and Sophia Myles. The film is adapted from the book by Peter Jinks and follows the voyeuristic title character as he runs away to Edinburgh and becomes transfixed by a beautiful woman who looks uncannily like his late mother. Again, this film won many awards including a Silver Bear in Berlin 2007,[16] the Golden Hitchcock and Kodak Award for Cinematography at the Dinard Festival 2007,[17] and the 2008 National Board of Review Award for Top Independent Film,[18] as well as numerous other awards.

In 2009 he directed the sex satire Spread, which marked Mackenzie's first feature in the USA. The film follows Ashton Kutcher's LA gigolo as he begins living with a rich older client played by Anne Heche. Spread had its premiere at Sundance.

Mackenzie followed this by returning to Glasgow to make sci-fi romance Perfect Sense (2011). The film follows a burgeoning romance between Ewan McGregor and Eva Green against the backdrop of a global pandemic of people losing their senses one by one.[19] The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and picked up awards at film festivals around the world including Edinburgh, Bratislava and Philadelphia International Film Festivals.

After Perfect Sense, Mackenzie directed the comedy musical You Instead (2011) [released as Tonight You're Mine in the United States]. The film stars Luke Treadaway and Natalia Tena as two rival rock stars who get handcuffed together for 24 hours at a music festival where they're both due to perform. It was filmed over five days at the Scottish music festival T in the Park in 2010. The cast and crew had to adopt a kind of guerrilla filmmaking approach to shoot amidst the chaos of a music festival.[20] It premiered at both T in the Park in 2011 and Austin based music and film festival SXSW.[21]

Mackenzie's next film was the prison drama Starred Up (2013). It features Jack O'Connell as a young offender who is moved into an adult prison where his estranged and incarcerated father resides. O'Connell stars alongside Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend. The film is based on the writer Jonathan Asser's experiences as a voluntary therapist in HM Prison Wandsworth.[22][23] It premiered at Telluride 2013 and went on to win numerous awards, including the BAFTA Scotland 2014 Best Film and Best Director Awards,[24] get nominated for seven BIFAs[25] and holds a remarkable 99% Rotten Tomatoes score.[26]

Mackenzie returned to the States to make Hell or High Water (2016), starring Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster. The film follows two brothers (Pine and Foster) as they go on a bank robbing spree across Texas, whilst being pursued by a Texas Ranger (Bridges) and his partner (Gil Birmingham). The film premiered in the 2016 Cannes Un Certain Regard competition,[27] and was met with critical acclaim internationally.[28] It was the highest grossing independent film of 2016 and its achievements have been recognised with four Academy Award nominations - including Best Picture - and several Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.[29]

In late 2016, Mackenzie directed a TV pilot called Damnation for Universal Cable Productions and the USA Network.[30] Described as an epic saga of the secret history of the 1930s American heartland, it chronicles the mythic conflict and bloody struggle between big money and the downtrodden, God and greed, charlatans and prophets.[31][32] Damnation was picked up to series by the USA Network in May 2017 and will be released by Netflix outside of the USA.[33]

In 2018 Mackenzie's tenth feature, Outlaw King starring Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Billy Howle, was released on Netflix. The film tells the true David and Goliath story of Scottish king Robert the Bruce as he fights to repel the occupying English army.[34] The film is produced by Gillian Berrie and Sigma Films.[35]

On 30 June 2020 Mackenzie's short titled What is Essential? debuted on Netflix as part of their anthology series Homemade, which follows stories from 17 filmmakers from around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.[36]The short was co-devised with his daughter Ferosa and follows her experience turning 16 under lockdown.

Mackenzie lives in Scotland with his partner Hazel Mall and their three children: Ferosa, Luke and Arthur.

His father was Royal Navy Rear Admiral David John Mackenzie (3 October 1929 – 26 November 2015) who served from 1943 to 1984 and fought in Falklands War,[37] and his mother was Ursula Sybil Balfour (31 January 1940 – 11 July 2015). They were married in 1965, until their deaths in 2015.[38]



Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
2002 The Last Great Wilderness Yes No No
2003 Young Adam Yes No Yes
2005 Asylum Yes No No
2007 Hallam Foe Yes executive Yes
2009 Spread Yes No No
2011 Perfect Sense Yes executive No
You Instead Yes No No
2013 Starred Up Yes No No
2016 Hell or High Water Yes No No
2017 Damnation No executive No TV series;
Episode "Sam Riley's Body"
2018 Outlaw King Yes Yes Yes Netflix movie

Short films

  • Dirty Diamonds (1994)
  • California Sunshine (1997)
  • Somersault (2000)
  • Marcie's Dowry (2000)

Frequent collaborators

Actor The Last Great Wilderness (2002) Young Adam (2003) Hallam Foe (2007) You Instead (2011) Perfect Sense (2011) Hell or High Water (2016) Outlaw King (2018) Total
Alastair Mackenzie

(brother to David Mackenzie)

☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N ☒N 5
Stephen Dillane ☒N ☒N 2
Ewen Bremner ☒N ☒N 2
Ewan McGregor ☒N ☒N 2
Chris Pine ☒N ☒N 2
Ewan Stewart ☒N ☒N 2


Academy Awards

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2016 Hell or High Water Best Picture Nominated

BAFTA Scotland Awards

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2003 Young Adam Best Film Win
Best Director Win
2007 Hallam Foe Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay (with Ed Whitmore) Nominated
2011 Perfect Sense Best Feature Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Audience Award - Favourite Scottish Film Nominated
You Instead Audience Award - Favourite Scottish Film Nominated
2013 Starred Up Best Feature Film Win
Best Directing in Film or TV Win

Berlin International Film Festival

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2005 Asylum Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas Win
Golden Berlin Bear Nominated
2007 Hallam Foe Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas Win
Silver Berlin Bear - Best Film Music Win
Golden Berlin Bear Nominated

British Independent Film Awards

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2003 Young Adam Best British Independent Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
2007 Hallam Foe Best British Independent Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay (with Ed Whitmore) Nominated
Best Technical Achievement (with Colin Monie for Music) Nominated
2011 You Instead Best Achievement in Production Nominated
2013 Starred Up Best British Independent Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Achievement in Production Nominated

Cannes Film Festival

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2003 Young Adam Un Certain Regard Nominated
2016 Hell or High Water Un Certain Regard Nominated

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2003 Young Adam Best British New Feature Win
2011 Perfect Sense Best British New Feature Win

Golden Globes

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2016 Hell or High Water Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated

Directed Recognised Performances

Year Nominated Work Performer Category Result
Academy Awards
2017 Hell or High Water Jeff Bridges Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
BAFTA Awards
2017 Hell or High Water Jeff Bridges Best Supporting Actor Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Awards
2003 Young Adam Ewan McGregor Best Actor in a Scottish Film Win
Tilda Swinton Best Actress in a Scottish Film Win
2007 Hallam Foe Jamie Bell Best Actor Nominated
Sophia Myles Best Actress Win
2013 Starred Up Jack O'Connell Best Actor - Film Nominated
British Independent Film Awards
2003 Young Adam Ewan McGregor Best Actor Nominated
Tilda Swinton Best Actress Nominated
2005 Asylum Natasha Richardson Best Actress Nominated
2007 Hallam Foe Jamie Bell Best Actor Nominated
Sophia Myles Best Actress Nominated
2013 Starred Up Jack O'Connell Best Actor Nominated
Ben Mendelson Best Supporting Actor Win
Rupert Friend Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Golden Globes
2017 Hell or High Water Jeff Bridges Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards
2017 Hell or High Water Jeff Bridges Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated

Sigma Films

Along with producer Gillian Berrie, David Mackenzie is a partner in Sigma Films. As well as producing Mackenzie's own films, the company has produced other directors' pictures including Andrea Arnold's Red Road (2006), Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin (2013), Lars von Trier's Dogville (2003) and Robert Carlyle's The Legend of Barney Thomson (2015).[39]

Sigma Films founded the production and post-production facility Film City Glasgow and runs Jumpcut, a new-entrants scheme dedicated to providing a fast-track into the screen industries for young and disadvantaged people.[40]


  1. ^ "David Mackenzie". 25 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  2. ^ "David Mackenzie". IMDb. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  3. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Mackenzie, David (1966-) Biography". Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Interview: David Mackenzie on Evolving 
    as a Director With "Starred Up""
    . The Moveable Fest. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Mackenzie, David (1966-) Biography". Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  6. ^ "BBC - Films - review - The Last Great Wilderness". Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Young Adam Movie Review & Film Summary (2004) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  8. ^ Mackenzie, David (26 September 2003), Young Adam, retrieved 13 July 2016
  9. ^ "Young Adam scores Bafta success". BBC. 15 November 2004. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Past Award Winners". Edinburgh International Film Festival. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Young Adam receives seven nominations in London Film Critics awards". Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  12. ^ BIFA. "Nominations - Awards 2003 - BIFA - The British Independent Film Awards". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Europejska Akademia Filmowa 2003 - Filmweb". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  14. ^ "| Berlinale | Archive | Annual Archives | 2005 | Programme". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Asylum gets German art-house prize". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  16. ^ Scott, A. O. (4 September 2008). "Stalking in Scotland, the Aerial Perspective". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  17. ^ "'Hallam Foe' takes top prize at Dinard fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  18. ^ "2008 Archives - National Board of Review". National Board of Review. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Interview: David Mackenzie on Perfect Sense and You Instead". The List. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Interview: David Mackenzie on Perfect Sense and You Instead". 24 August 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  21. ^ "T in the Park film returns to festival for premiere". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  22. ^ SouthwarkTV (23 October 2013), SVI - Shame/Violence Intervention (Jonathan Asser), retrieved 2 May 2016
  23. ^ Asser, Jonathan (8 March 2014). "'If I move he'll attack': mastering rage in prisoners". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  24. ^ "British Academy Scotland Awards 2014 Winners Announced". Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  25. ^ BIFA. "Nominations - Awards 2013 - BIFA - The British Independent Film Awards". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Starred Up". 27 August 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  27. ^ Hopewell, Elsa Keslassy,John (22 April 2016). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Joins Cannes Film Festival Competition". Variety. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  28. ^ Hell or High Water, retrieved 13 July 2016
  29. ^ Dickey, Dale; Foster, Ben; Pine, Chris; Sterchi, William (26 August 2016), Hell or High Water, retrieved 3 February 2017
  30. ^ "'Hell or High Water' Director Boards USA Network's 'Damnation'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  31. ^ "USA Drama 'Damnation' Taps 'Ripper Street' Alum to Replace Aden Young". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  32. ^ Petski, Denise (8 September 2016). "'Damnation': 'Hell Or High Water' Helmer David Mackenzie To Direct USA Pilot". Deadline. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  33. ^ Petski, Denise (12 May 2017). "'Damnation' Period Drama Picked Up To Series By USA Network". Deadline. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  34. ^ Sharf, Zack. "'Outlaw King' First Look: Chris Pine is Robert the Bruce | IndieWire". Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  35. ^ Evans, Greg (8 September 2017). "First Look at Chris Pine in Netflix's 'Outlaw King'". Deadline. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  36. ^ Ravindran, Manori. "Kristen Stewart, Maggie Gyllenhaal Direct in Pablo Larrain's Netflix Short Film Collection 'Homemade'". Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  37. ^ Pulver, Andrew (1 September 2016). "Hell or High Water's David Mackenzie: 'I look forward to the day people get sick of superheroes'". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  38. ^ "John Mackenzie, naval officer - obituary". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  39. ^ "Sigma Films". Sigma Films. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  40. ^ Fielder, Miles. "Interview: David Mackenzie on Perfect Sense and You Instead". The List (Edinburgh/Glasgow). Retrieved 4 November 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 May 2021, at 12:20
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