Nominee: Asif Kapadia, Filmmaker

Asif Kapadia (600px)

Above: Asif Kapadia's 'AMY'  is the most succesful UK documetary of all  time.  Image credit: Profile by Leslie Hassler.

Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia is known for his visually striking films exploring characters living in timeless, extreme and unforgiving landscapes.

His films have been awarded and distributed internationally and show how versatile and expressive British cinema can be.

Born in Hackney, east London, in 1972, Kapadia studied filmmaking at the Royal College of Art where he first gained recognition with his short film, ‘The Sheep Thief’ (1997). Shot in Rajasthan, India, the film won several international awards including a prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

His initial movie inspirations were from world and international cinema. Kapadia says the US director Spike Lee’s movie, Do the Right Thing, the Vietnamese drama 'Cyclo' and Robert Bresson's 'A Man Escaped' were favourites.

Kapadia's debut film 'The Warrior' was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning Best British Film and Best Debut Film, as well as being nominated for Best Film Not in the English Language.

His fourth feature, ‘Senna’ was the story of the Brazilian motor-racing legend Ayrton Senna. The film was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning Best Documentary and Best Editing. It went on to become the highest-grossing British documentary of all time and break UK sales records on DVD and Blu-ray. The film won many awards around the world including the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

‘AMY’, his follow-up movie about singer-songwriter, Amy Winehouse, has now overtaken 'Senna' to become the most successful British Documentary of all time.

Kapadia has since set up a production company, On the Corner, with the producer of 'Senna', James Gay-Rees, Jolyon Symonds and David Morrissey. Kapadia and Gay-Rees are executive producers on 'Ronaldo', a documentary about the footballer.

Explaining his decision to take on 'Senna' and 'AMY' , Kapadia says: “The subjects have to come with questions for me. I don’t necessarily want to make films where I start off as a massive fan. I like to learn along the way, like the audience. I need to be intrigued by the character. There were a lot of questions that I wanted to learn the answers to, and I hoped those questions would be intriguing to the audience.

'With both 'Senna' and 'AMY', many people knew the ending. The thing I'm interested in is the journey, how and why did their lives go the way they did?