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Meet a living legend: Bruce Beresford

One of Australia's greatest directors reflects on his brilliant career

Award-winning director and University of Sydney alumnus Bruce Beresford discusses his 50-year, Oscar-nominated journey in cinema with Dr Bruce Isaacs.

Bruce Beresford (BA '64) has a career in film spanning 50 years and more than 30 feature films. Not only that, he has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Director for Tender Mercies and Best Adapted Screenplay for Breaker Morant. His 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy won the Oscar for Best Picture.

His career began at the University of Sydney, where he studied alongside John Bell, Clive James and Madeleine St John, and acted in the drama society. He directed his first films here, including The Devil to Pay and It Droppeth as the Gentle Rain. Since then, he has gone on to become one of our most prolific and critically acclaimed filmmakers. He has also directed operas and plays, and written for film, making him a legend of the Australian arts scene.

Beresford’s latest venture, released in September 2018, is a film adaptation of Ladies in Black, based on the novel by Madeleine St John, with whom he attended the University of Sydney. With his time spent across continents, and multiple films in the works, he shows no signs of slowing down.

This event will see him in conversation with Dr Bruce Isaacs, Head of Film Studies at the University, to discuss his incredible career, Hollywood, and his philosophy on film.

The University recently charted Bruce Beresford's extraordinary life journey – from Hollywood to home – in a Sydney Alumni Magazine feature story.

This event was held on Wednesday 31 October at the University of Sydney.

The speakers: 

  • Bruce Beresford was born in Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney in 1964. Notable films he has directed include Breaker Morant, Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy. Ladies in Black is his latest feature. He served as Film Officer for the British Film Institute Production Board from 1966–71 and as a Film Advisor to the Arts Council of Great Britain. He has also directed several operas, including Girl Of The Golden West (Puccini), Spoleto (Italy) and Elektra (Strauss). 
  • Dr Bruce Isaacs is Head of Film Studies at University of Sydney. He is interested in a wide range of film studies-related topics: histories of film (with a focus on Hollywood, though he has abiding interests in various ‘New Waves’ and movements), film aesthetics and style, critical approaches to film production, film and popular culture (including the relationship between film and other pop culture art forms such as television, literature and music). He is currently completing a book entitled “The Art of Pure Cinema: Hitchcock and His Imitators” for Oxford University Press.

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