Chris Noonan

Chris Noonan was born in Sydney on 14 November 1952. His involvement in film began at school where, at age 16, he directed Could It Happen Here? , a spoof on high school life. The film was a prize-winner in the Sydney Film Festival's short film competition and was screened on national television. While at school he became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement, earned pocket money by setting up a business making and selling jewellery to Sydney shops, and helped set up and became Chairman of a Secondary Students' Union which, among other things, established a weekend school to show the Education Department how it should be done.

On leaving school in 1970, he worked for the Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia ) as a production assistant, assistant editor, production manager and assistant director. On weekends during this 2-year period, he wrote and directed the short black comedy Garbo , funded by a government grant.

In 1973, he won one of the 12 places in the Australian Film & Television School's initial one-year directors' course. Fellow students during that year in­cluded Gillian Armstrong and Phillip Noyce. At the school he made three films including the much acclaimed cinema short Bulls .

In 1974 he returned to Film Australia as a director, where he made 12 films includ­ing a number of sponsored documentaries about education, an internat­ionally successful cinema short about Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, and a series of films about India. His last film there was the feature-length telemovie Cass .

In 1979, Noonan left Film Australia to set up his own production company and in '79-80 produced and directed Stepping Out, the prize-winning documentary about a theatrical group of mentally disabled people which was sold to televi­sion around the world.

He then turned to drama, co-writing and co-directing two major Kennedy Miller mini-series, The Cowra Breakout (1985) and Vietnam (1987). In 1988, he directed the telefeature The Riddle of the Stinson for Kennedy Miller and in 1989, the controversial 100 minute telefeature Police State for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Noonan served for two years (1987-88) as President of the Australian Screen Directors' Association, and in 1990 was appointed for a three year term as Chairman of the Australian Film Commission, the Australian government's principal film industry advisory body.

His best known major work was as director and co-writer of Babe , his first theatrical feature. The film earnt $US280m in its 18-language world theatrical release, a further $US217m in international video sales and was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay).

He co-produced the popular Davida Allen telemovie Feeling Sexy in 1999 and has continued to make Australian and international TV commercials. He has recently completed Miss Potter , a biographical feature film about children's writer Beatrix Potter starring Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson and is currently working on a slate of projects including Zebras, a powerful drama set in the dying days of apartheid South Africa, and The Third Witch.

Chris Noonan

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