Director, Writer, Cinematographer
Bille August was born in Brede, near Copenhagen, Denmark. He graduated from the Danish Film School in 1971 as a director of photography. He began working in the television industry, and then moved into film. His first feature as director of photography was Homeward in the Night (1977), after which he quickly migrated to directing with the feature film Honeymoon the following year, for which he also wrote the screenplay.
August spent the next few years directing for television and as a director of photography for several films, before a series of directing successes, such as Zappa (1983) and its popular sequel Twist and Shout (1984), led to his adapting the novel Pelle the Conqueror in 1987. Starring Max von Sydow, this highly-praised film about Swedish migrants and their new life on a Danish island won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film as well as the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Festival.
The international success of Pelle the Conqueror resulted in the renowned Swedish director Ingmar Bergman asking August to direct a television miniseries he had written. Bergman's screenplay, The Best Intentions, was about his parents' early life. The miniseries ran for five-and-a-half hours, broadcast in 1991, and a three hour cinema version was subsequently released in 1992. Again starring Max von Sydow, Den Goda viljan (The Best Intentions) met with great acclaim, winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes, thus admitting August to the esteemed company of only a handful of directors who have won cinema's most prestigious prize twice. At the same festival, Pernilla August, whom August had married in 1991, won theprix d'interpretation féminine or Best Actress award for her portrayal of Ingmar's mother, Anna Åkerblom Bergman.
August has continued to make features in both Hollywood and Scandinavia, adapting literary works for The House of the Spirits (1993), Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (1997), Les Misérables (1998) and A Song for Martin (2001). He also directs for television, making a version of the play Detaljer (2003) for Danish television, and episodes of the American series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He was a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, and was one of over thirty directors who contributed a short piece to the collective film about cinema,Chacun son Cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema, 2007).
In 2007, August released the film Goodbye, Bafana, in three languages (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa), which is based on the memories of Nelson Mandela's guard. In 2011, August became the first Western director invited by the Chinese film studio. He took the position of art director of the young company Tianpeng Media and founded his own film studio in the city of Hangzhou, and the authorities suggested him a post of cultural advisor.
At the 11th Danish Wave Film Festival one of the Director's latest works will be presented - the historical drama Lucky Per (2018).