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Today's birthday, August 21

AAP logoAAP 20/08/2016

Today's birthday, August 21: Australian director Peter Weir, (1944-)

Film director and writer Peter Weir was a key figure in the rebirth of Australian cinema in the 1970s and 1980s, and went on to direct several Oscar-nominated films in Hollywood.

Born on August 21 1944 in Sydney, Weir attended The Scots College and Vaucluse Boys High School before studying arts and law at the University of Sydney.

After dropping out of uni and travelling through Europe, Weir returned home and joined Sydney television station ATN-7 in the mid 1960s, where he worked as a production assistant on the comedy program The Mavis Bramston Show, before taking up a position as a trainee director at the Commonwealth Film Unit (CFU).

Weir directed several feature-length documentaries while working at the CFU (which later became Film Australia), including the short film Michael, for which he won the 1970 Grand Prix Award from The Australian Film Institute.

In 1975 he directed the international breakthrough film Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is based on the mystery novel by Joan Lindsay.

After this success, Weir went on to receive even greater worldwide praise for directing the historical war drama Gallipoli (1981) and the romantic drama The Year of Living Dangerously (1985), which both helped propel young Australian actor Mel Gibson to international fame.

For his services to the Australian film Industry, he was awarded the AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 1982 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

By the mid 1980s, Weir had left Australia to work in Hollywood, and over the next 25 years directed several box office and Oscar-nominated films, including Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford, Dead Poets Society (1989) with Robin Williams, and The Truman Show (1998) with Jim Carey.

Today Weir lives in Sydney with his wife of 50 years, Wendy Stiles, and has a daughter Ingrid.

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