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Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis

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Adam Curtis is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 BAFTA
British Academy Television Awards
The British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts . They have been awarded annually since 1954, and are analogous to the Emmy Awards in the United States.-Background:...

 winning documentarian
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 and a writer, television producer
Television producer
The primary role of a television Producer is to allow all aspects of video production, ranging from show idea development and cast hiring to shoot supervision and fact-checking...

, director and narrator. He works for BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 Current Affairs.

Early life and education


Curtis was born in 1955. He attended the Sevenoaks School
Sevenoaks School
Sevenoaks School is an English coeducational independent school located in the town of Sevenoaks, Kent. It is the oldest lay school in the United Kingdom, dating back to 1432. Almost 1,000 day pupils and boarders attend, ranging in age from 11 to 18 years. There are approximately equal numbers of...

, where he was a member of the 'Art Room' that produced musicians Tom Greenhalgh
Tom Greenhalgh
Thomas Charles Greenhalgh is a multimedia artist and singer-songwriter best known for his work with the Mekons.-Education:...

 and Mark White of The Mekons, along with Andy Gill
Andy Gill
Andy Gill is a founding member and guitarist for the English rock group Gang of Four, considered among the most influential post-punk bands...

 and Jon King
Jon King (musician)
Jon King, born 8 June 1955, London, is a singer, musician and founding member of the Leeds based UK rock band Gang of Four. He attended Sevenoaks School, where he was a member of the 'Art Room' that produced musicians Tom Greenhalgh and Mark White of The Mekons, along with Andy Gill of Gang of...

 of Gang of Four
Gang of Four (band)
Gang of Four are an English post-punk group from Leeds. Original personnel were singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. They were fully active from 1977 to 1984, and then re-emerged twice in the 1990s with King and Gill...

.

Curtis completed a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in Human Sciences at Mansfield College, University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, where he studied genetics, evolutionary biology, psychology, politics, sociology and elementary statistics. After graduating, Curtis taught Politics at the University for some time.

Career


He left academia to make a career in television, obtaining a post on That's Life!
That's Life!
That's Life! was a magazine-style television series on BBC1 between 26 May 1973 and 19 June 1994, presented by Esther Rantzen throughout the entire run, with various changes of co-presenters. The show was generally recorded about an hour prior to transmission, which was originally on Saturday...

, a programme that often placed serious and humorous content in close juxtaposition.

Curtis makes extensive use of archive footage in his documentaries. He has acknowledged the influence of recordings made by Erik Durschmied
Erik Durschmied
Erik Durschmied Cinematographer, producer, and director, is also an author, military history professor and a former war correspondent for BBC, CBS. Newsweek called him a "supremely gifted reporter who has changed the media he works in", while The New York Times wrote "he has seen more wars than any...

 and to "constantly using his stuff in my films". An Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

profile said of Curtis' style:
Curtis has a remarkable feel for the serendipity of such moments, and an obsessive skill in locating them. "That kind of footage shows just how dull I can be," he admits, a little glumly. "The BBC has an archive of all these tapes where they have just dumped all the news items they have ever shown. One tape for every three months. So what you get is this odd collage, an accidental treasure trove. You sit in a darkened room, watch all these little news moments, and look for connections."


The Observer adds "if there has been a theme in Curtis's work since, it has been to look at how different elites have tried to impose an ideology on their times, and the tragicomic consequences of those attempts."

Curtis received the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival is the oldest continuously running film festival in the Americas. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society, the International is held each spring for two weeks, presenting an average of 150 films from over 50 countries...

 in 2005. In 2006 he was given the Alan Clarke
Alan Clarke
Alan Clarke was a television and film director, producer and writer, born in Wallasey, Merseyside, England.Most of Clarke's output was for television rather than cinema, including work for the famous play strands The Wednesday Play and Play for Today...

 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television at the British Academy Television Awards
British Academy Television Awards
The British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts . They have been awarded annually since 1954, and are analogous to the Emmy Awards in the United States.-Background:...

. In 2009 Sheffield Doc/Fest awarded Curtis the inaugural Sheffield Inspiration Award for his inspiration to documentary makers and audiences.

Documentaries

Year Documentary Subject Parts Broadcast on Awards
1983 Just Another Day: Walton on the Naze Various long-standing British institutions.
1983 The Tuesday Documentary: Trumpets and Typewriters The history of war correspondent
War correspondent
A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.-Methods:...

s.
1984 Inquiry: The Great British Housing Disaster. The system-built housing of the 1960s.
1984 Italians: Mayor of Montemilone With Dino Labriola
1984 The Cost Of Treachery The Albanian Subversion
Albanian Subversion
The Albanian Subversion is one of the earliest and most notable failures of the Western covert paramilitary operations behind the Iron Curtain. Based on wrong assessments about Albania, and thinking that the country was ready to shake off its Stalinist regime, the British SIS and the American CIA...

, a 1949 plot in which the CIA and MI6 attempted to overthrow the Albanian government to weaken the Soviet Union. The counter-agent within the intelligence rank, Kim Philby
Kim Philby
Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union...

.
1987 40 Minutes: Bombay Hotel The luxurious Taj Mahal Palace & Tower
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower
The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is a five-star hotel located in the Colaba region of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, next to the Gateway of India. Part of the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, this building is considered the flagship property of the group and contains 565 rooms...

 in Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, contrasted with the poverty of the slums of the city.
1988 An Ocean Apart The process by which the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was involved in the First World War.
Episode One: "Hats Off to Mr. Wilson".
1989 40 Minutes: The Kingdom of Fun Documentary about the Metro Centre in Gateshead, developed by entrepreneur John Hall
John Hall (businessman)
Sir John Hall is a property developer in North East England. He is also life president and former chairman of Newcastle United.-Biography:...

. The programme compares John Hall's plans to regenerate the North East, with those of T. Dan Smith
T. Dan Smith
Thomas Daniel Smith was a British politician who was Leader of Newcastle upon Tyne City Council from 1960 to 1965. He was a prominent figure in the Labour Party in the north east of England, such that he was nicknamed 'Mr Newcastle'...

.
1989 Inside Story: The Road To Terror How the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 turned from idealism to terror. Draws parallels with the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 two hundred years earlier.
1992 Pandora's Box The dangers of technocratic
Technocracy (bureaucratic)
Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Economists, engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body...

 and political rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

.
6 BAFTA: Best Factual Series http://print.google.com/print/doc?articleid=93LUFMjZ7HC
1995 The Living Dead
The Living Dead (television documentary series)
The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past was the second major documentary series made by British film-maker Adam Curtis. This series investigated the way that history and memory have been used by politicians and others...

The way that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used by politicians and others. 3
1996 25 Million Pounds
25 Million Pounds
25 Million Pounds is a 1996 British documentary film by filmmaker Adam Curtis. It details the collapse of Barings Bank in the mid-1990s due to the machinations of Nick Leeson, who lost £827 million primarily by speculating on futures contracts.-Summary:The film describes Barings as one of the...

Nick Leeson
Nick Leeson
Nicholas "Nick" Leeson is a former derivatives broker whose fraudulent, unauthorized speculative trading caused the collapse of Barings Bank, the United Kingdom's oldest investment bank, for which he was sent to prison...

 and the collapse of Barings Bank
Barings Bank
Barings Bank was the oldest merchant bank in London until its collapse in 1995 after one of the bank's employees, Nick Leeson, lost £827 million due to speculative investing, primarily in futures contracts, at the bank's Singapore office.-History:-1762–1890:Barings Bank was founded in 1762 as the...

.
San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival is the oldest continuously running film festival in the Americas. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society, the International is held each spring for two weeks, presenting an average of 150 films from over 50 countries...

, 1998: Best Science and Nature Documentary
1997 Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh The story, dating back to the 1950s, of the search for a cure to cancer and the impact of Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who was the unwitting source of cells from her cancerous tumor, which were cultured by George Otto Gey to create an immortal cell line for medical research...

, the "woman who will never die" because her cells never stopped reproducing.
Golden Gate Award, 1997
1999 The Mayfair Set
The Mayfair Set
The Mayfair Set is a series of programmes produced by Adam Curtis for the BBC, first broadcast in the summer of 1999.The programme looked at how buccaneer capitalists of hot money were allowed to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, focusing on the rise of Colonel David Stirling, Jim Slater,...

How buccaneer capitalists were allowed to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, focusing on the rise of Colonel David Stirling
David Stirling
Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, DSO, DFC, OBE was a Scottish laird, mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service.-Life before the war:...

, Jim Slater
Jim Slater
James Derrick Slater is an investor.Trained as a chartered accountant, he worked for Leyland Motors and became famous for writing an investment column in The Sunday Telegraph under the nom de plume of The Capitalist, where he described his own portfolio...

, James Goldsmith
James Goldsmith
Sir James Michael "Jimmy" Goldsmith was an Anglo-French billionaire financier and tycoon. Towards the end of his life, he became a magazine publisher and a politician. In 1994, he was elected to represent France as a Member of the European Parliament and he subsequently founded the short-lived...

, and Tiny Rowland
Tiny Rowland
Roland "Tiny" Rowland was a British businessman and chairman of the Lonrho conglomerate from 1962 to 1994...

, all members of The Clermont
Clermont Set
The Clermont Set was an exclusive group of rich British gamblers who met at the Clermont Club at 44 Berkeley Square, in London's fashionable Mayfair district now located at 27-28 Curzon Street and called Aspinall's. It was the first London casino opened by John Aspinall after he won the gaming...

 club in the 1960s.
4 BAFTA, 2000: Best Factual Series or Strand
2002 The Century of the Self
The Century of the Self
The Century of the Self is an award winning British television documentary film. It focuses on how Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have thought about,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people....

How Freud's discoveries concerning the unconscious led to Edward Bernays
Edward Bernays
Edward Louis Bernays , was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda along with Ivy Lee, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations"...

' development of public relations, the use of desire over need and self-actualisation as a means of achieving economic growth and the political control of population.
4 BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

, art house cinemas in the US
Broadcast Award: Best Documentary Series; Longman/History Today Awards: Historical Film of the Year; Entertainment Weekly, 2005: fourth best movie
2004 The Power of Nightmares
The Power of Nightmares
The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis's narration...

Suggested a parallel between the rise of Islamism
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 in the Arab world and Neoconservatism
Neoconservatism
Neoconservatism in the United States is a branch of American conservatism. Since 2001, neoconservatism has been associated with democracy promotion, that is with assisting movements for democracy, in some cases by economic sanctions or military action....

 in the United States in that both needed to inflate a myth of a dangerous enemy in order to draw people to support them.
3 BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

BAFTA, 2004: Best Factual Series
2007 The Trap — What Happened to our Dream of Freedom The modern concept of freedom.http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/wk11/unplaced.shtml#unplaced_trap 3 BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

2007 Television news reporters. 1 Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe is a British television review programme broadcast on BBC Four by Charlie Brooker. The programme contains reviews of current shows, as well as stories and commentary on how television is produced.-Format:...

, third episode of the fourth series
2009 The rise of "Oh Dear"-ism. 1 Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe is a British television review programme broadcast on BBC Four by Charlie Brooker. The programme contains reviews of current shows, as well as stories and commentary on how television is produced.-Format:...

2009 It Felt Like A Kiss
It Felt Like A Kiss
It Felt Like a Kiss is an immersive theatre production, first performed between 2 and 19 July 2009 as part of the second Manchester International Festival, co-produced with the BBC...

Mixed media. Broadcast July 2. 1
2010 Paranoia
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 and moral panics.
1 Charlie Brooker's Newswipe, fourth episode in the second series
2011 All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (television documentary series)
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a three part BBC documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including The Century of the Self, The Trap and The Power of Nightmares...

The computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 as a model of the world around us.
3 BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

2011 Every Day Is Like Sunday (working title) The dramatic downfall of the newspaper mogul, who used to dominate Britain before Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....

arrived.
1

External links