“In America, the word 'adult' has come to indicate fairly strong pornography, whereas elsewhere in the world it means mature and grownup themes. I like to think I'm helping to reclaim the notion of being an adult. In both 'Asylum' and 'Young Adam,' sexuality is not really romantic; it comes from an inner place or a need that has to be fulfilled. It's not motivated by romance or the traditional things. By Hollywood standards that may be shocking, as if something used to sell beer can actually be a transformative experience.” David MacKenzie
Scottish film director and screenwriter David MacKenzie, the older brother of actor Alastair MacKenzie, rose to international fame with the big screen adaptation of “Young Adam” (2003), which he wrote and directed. He won a BAFTA Scotland Award, an Edinburgh International Film Festival Award and a London Critics Circle Film Award, not to mention nominations at the British Independent Film, Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB), European Film, London Critics Circle Film Awards and the São Paulo International Film Festival, for his work on the film. He gained further notices with “Asylum” (2005) and “Hallam Foe” (2007). He picked up the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas award and Golden Berlin Bear nominations from the Berlin International Film Festival for both movies, with the latter also winning a Silver Berlin Bear at the same festival, a Dinard British Film Festival Award, a Verona Love Screens Film Festival Award and a Motovun Film Festival Award. MacKenzie's first American movie, “Spread” (2009), which starred Asthon Kutcher, received a negative reception and was a modest success at the box office. A prominent director in his native country, MacKenzie began his film career by making shorts and won praise for his work on “California Sunshine” (1997), “Marcie's Dowry” and “Somersault” (both 1999).
MacKenzie is scheduled to return to British cinema with “The Last Word” (2010), starring “Young Adam” star Ewan McGregor and Eva Green.
Childhood and Family:
David MacKenzie was born on May 10, 1966, in Coatbridge, Scotland. His younger brother is actor Alastair MacKenzie, who was born in 1970. The brothers co-founded the production company Sigma Films.
David MacKenzie made his professional directing debut in 1994 with a short film titled “Dirty Diamonds,” starring James Bryce as Robbie. The next year, he wrote and directed a 25 minute length drama called “Wanting and Getting,” but did not gain early notice until he helmed “California Sunshine” in 1997, which was written by Gillian Berrie. A 20 minute comedy about a pair of small time drug dealers that starred his brother, actor Alastair MacKenzie, the film was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Short Film and placed second for the Jury Award for Live Action Short Documentary Over 15 Minutes at the 1998 Palm Springs International ShortFest.
MacKenzie was reunited with producer and writer Gillian Berrie for his next directing effort, “Somersault” (1999), a 13 minute film that focused on daughters and mothers. He won a Grand Prix at the 2000 Metz European Meeting of Short Film and placed second for Best Short Film for International Competition at the 2000 Dresden Film Festival. The same year, he also directed the short comedy “Marcie's Dowry,” which was written by Bill Chamberlain. It won an Audience Award at the 1999 Brest European Short Film Festival.
In 2002, MacKenzie made his feature film directing debut with “The Last Great Wilderness,” which he co-scripted with his brother Alastair, Gillian Berrie, and Michael Tait and starred Alastair as Charlie. Premiering in the U.K. in 2002, the film was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival in August 2002 and the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2002 before earning theatrical releases in the U.K. on May 9, 2003. The soundtrack album was performed by the Scottish band The Pastels.
MacKenzie rose to international prominence with his second film, “Young Adam” (2003), which he wrote and directed. An adaptation of the 1950’s novel of the same name by Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi, the British drama received positive reviews from film critics, especially for strong performances from Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton, and collected various awards and nominations. For his efforts, MacKenzie took home a BAFTA Scotland for Best Director, a Best New British Feature Award from the 2003 Edinburgh International Film Festival, an ALFS Award for British Newcomer of the Year at the 2004 London Critics Circle Film and nominations for Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in British Film at the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) Awards, European Discovery of the Year Award at the European Film Awards, International Jury Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival, and British Director of the Year and British Screenwriter of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards. Despite its critical victory, “Young Adam” was a minor success at the box office. With production cost of over $6 million, the film only grossed a little over $1 million in the United Kingdom and about two and a half million worldwide.
In 2005, MacKenzie returned to the director's chair to helm Natasha Richardson, Marton Csokas, Ian McKellen and Sean Harris in the British romantic thriller “Asylum,” which was based on Patrick McGrath's novel of the same name and adapted for the screen by Patrick Marber and Chrysanthy Balis. It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 11, 2005, where it won the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas and a Golden Berlin Bear nomination. Under his direction, Richardson picked up an Evening Standard British Film for Best Actress and a British Independent Film nomination in the same category. “Asylum” earned a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on August 12, 2005, before its U.K. premiere on September 9, 2005.
MacKenzie next co-wrote, directed and executive produced “Hallam Foe” (2007), which he adapted from a novel by Peter Jinks. Starring Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Ciarán Hinds, Jamie Sives and Maurice Roëves, the drama debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 16, 2007, and won the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas and a Silver Berlin Bear for Best Film Music. It also received a Golden Berlin Bear nomination at the festival. It went on to bring MacKenzie a Golden Hitchcock at the 2007 Dinard British Film Festival, a FIPRESCI Prize at the 2007 Motovun Film Festival and a Critics Award at the 2008 Verona Love Screens Film Festival. He also nabbed a BAFTA Scotland nomination for Best Screenplay, British Independent Film nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Technical Achievement, and a Grand Prix Asturias nomination for Best Feature at the 2007 Gijón International Film Festival. “Hallam Foe” was released in the U.K. on August 31, 2007, and the U.S. on September 5, 2008, under the title “Mister Foe.”
In 2009, MacKenzie directed Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche in his Hollywood debut “Spread,” which was written by Jason Dean Hall. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2009, and was released in theaters on August 14, 2009. A comedy focusing on a serial womanizer and his rejected lover, the drama received primarily negative reviews from critics.
MacKenzie's new film, “The Last Word,” scripted by Kim Fupz Aakeson, is set to be released in 2010. The movie will star Eva Green and Ewan McGregor.
Verona Love Screens Film Festival: Critics Award, “Hallam Foe,” 2008
Berlin International Film Festival: Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas, “Hallam Foe,” 2007
Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Film Music, “Hallam Foe,” 2007
Dinard British Film Festival: Golden Hitchcock, “Hallam Foe,” 2007
Motovun Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, “Hallam Foe,” 2007
Berlin International Film Festival: Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas, “Asylum,” 2005
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, British Newcomer of the Year, “Young Adam,” 2004
BAFTA Scotland: Best Director, “Young Adam,” 2004
Edinburgh International Film Festival: Best New British Feature, “Young Adam,” 2003
Dresden Film Festival: 2nd place, Best Short Film, International Competition, “Somersault,” 2000
Metz European Meeting of Short Film: Grand Prix, “Somersault,” 2000
Brest European Short Film Festival: Audience Award, “Marcie's Dowry,” 1999
Palm Springs International ShortFest: 2nd place, Jury Award, Live Action Short Documentary Over 15 Minutes, “California Sunshine,” 1998