Asif Kapadia (born 1972) is a British filmmaker of Indian descent. He directed several award-winning films, including The Sheep Thief (1997), winner of the 2nd Prize Cinéfondation for Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival, The Warrior (2001), which won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film and Senna (2010), winner of the World Cinema Audience Award Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2011.
BAFTA award winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia is known for his visually striking films which explore the lives of ‘outsiders’, characters living in timeless, extreme and unforgiving circumstances or landscapes. His films have been awarded and distributed internationally and shown how versatile and expressive British cinema can be.
Born in Hackney, London in 1972, Kapadia studied filmmaking at the Royal College of Art where he first gained recognition with his short The Sheep Thief (1997) telling the story of a gifted street kid and the family who take him in, made with non professional actors in Rajasthan, India, the film won many awards including Second Prize at the 1998 Cannes International Film Festival Cinefondation, the Grand Prix at the 1997 European Short Film Festival in Brest & Best Director at the Recontres Henri Langlois Festival International des Ecoles de Cinema in Poitiers 1997.
Kapadia’s distinct visual style continued with his first feature The Warrior (2001, FilmFour), shot in the deserts of Rajasthan and the snow capped Himalaya. The Warrior was championed in the British Press as ‘epic’and ‘stunning’ (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian) and was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning two the Alexander Korda Award for the outstanding British Film of the Year 2002 and The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a Director, Screenwriter or Producer in their First Feature.
The Warrior also won the Grand Prix at the Dinard Film Festival, the prestigious Sutherland Award at the London Film Festival, the Evening Standard British Film Awards for the Most Promising Newcomer, the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Film and the Technical Achievement Award for Cinematography at the British Independent Film Awards and the Jury Prize for the best cinematography at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Far North (2007, FILM4), premiered at the Venice Film Festival, based on a dark short story by Sara Maitland. Kapadia used the epic and brutal arctic landscape to show how desperation and loneliness drive a woman to harm the person she loves the most.
Kapadia's fourth feature Senna, (2010, Working Title / Universal Pictures) the epic story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing Champion, Ayrton Senna. Spanning the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid 80’s, the film follows Senna’s struggles both on track against his nemesis, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the politics which infest the sport. Sublime, spiritual and, on occasion, ruthless – Ayrton Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. Privately, he is humble and fiercely patriotic, donating millions to his native Brasil and contemplating a life beyond racing. Tragically he is struck down in his prime on the blackest weekend in the history of the sport, watched live on television by 300 million people. Years on he is revered in Formula One as the greatest motor racing driver of all time – and in Brasil as a Saint.
Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2011
Kapadia on accepting the award; "This is amazing. This festival has restored my faith in film festivals, Sundance is all about the films, the audience and the film makers. Every single screening is sold out. We were told that no one in the US knew who Ayrton Senna was, that there was no interest in Formula One, that we should forget about releasing the film here, so to win the Audience Award at Sundance is just fantastic, it makes us feel so proud. We hope this shows that there is an audience for SENNA in the US, both fans and people who have never heard of him before and I hope this is just the beginning of a long journey for SENNA in 2011.”
Winner of Best Documentary – Audience Award at the Adelaide Film Festival 2011
Senna has been released in Japan and in Brazil where it had one of the biggest openings for a documentary film ever.
The film will be released in UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, S. Korea, USA and around the world during 2011.