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Gillies MacKinnon


1948 -

Gillies Mackinnon
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Gillies Mackinnon

One of the most prolific and versatile contemporary British film directors. Born in Glasgow, MacKinnon was educated at the Glasgow School of Art, and went on to become an art teacher and professional cartoonist. He attended the National Film and Television School in the early 1980s and his graduation short, Passing Glory, was shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 1986, where it won the Scottish Film Prize.

His work includes Conquest of the South Pole (1989), in which a group of unemployed Edinburgh youths embark on a recreation of Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole. This was followed by Needle (1990) and The Grass Arena (1991), both for the BBC. International recognition came with The Playboys (1992), a well-received romantic drama about an unmarried woman who scandalises her Irish village by having a baby, starring Albert Finney and Robin Wright.

MacKinnon went on to direct A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), starring Steve Martin, Small Faces (1995), Trojan Eddie (1996), featuring Richard Harris, Regeneration (1997) and Hideous Kinky (1998), with Kate Wislet. The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000), with Judi Dench and Olympia Dukakis, was made for television and won a Golden Globe award.

His other work includes The Escapist (2002), Pure (2002), Gunpowder, Treason and Plot (2004), a historical drama starring Robert Carlyle (b.1961) which traces the turbulent times of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), and King James VI (1566 - 1625), Tara Road (2005) and The Snow Goose (2005), starring Billy Connolly (b.1942).

His brother Billy MacKinnon is a script-writer who has collaborated on several projects.


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