Bille August

Last updated

Bille August

Bille August (cropped).jpg
Born (1948-11-09) 9 November 1948 (age 73)
Brede, Denmark
OccupationFilm director
Years active1978–present
(m. 1991;div. 1997)

Masja Dessau c. 1978-1990
Annie Munksgaard Lauritzen c. 1970-1978
Sara-Marie Maltha
(2004 -> m. 2012 –present)
Children8, including Anders and Alba

Bille August RD (born 9 November 1948) is a Danish director, screenwriter, and cinematographer of film and television. In a career spanning over four decades, he has been the recipient of numerous accolades, making him one of the most acclaimed contemporary Danish filmmakers.


August's 1987 film Pelle the Conqueror won the Palme d'Or, Academy Award and Golden Globe Award. He is one of only nine directors to win the Palme d'Or twice, winning the award again in 1992 for The Best Intentions , based on the autobiographical script by Ingmar Bergman.

His filmography includes The House of the Spirits , based on the novel by Isabel Allende; Smilla's Sense of Snow ; Les Misérables ; Night Train to Lisbon , Silent Heart , The Chinese Widow and A Fortunate Man . He has received five Robert Awards (including Best Film and Best Director) and three Bodil Awards for Best Danish Film. He is also a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog.

Life and career

August was born on 9 November 1948, in Brede, Denmark. After attending local schools, he graduated from the Foto- og Dokumentarskolan in Stockholm, Sweden, and later from the National Film School of Denmark. He began his career as a cinematographer. He made his feature directorial debut in 1978 with In My Life, which won the Bodil Award for Best Danish Film.

He collaborated twice with then wife Pernilla August under George Lucas on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in The Perils of Cupid and Tales of Innocence. Pernilla would later star in the first two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and appeared in an episode of The Clone Wars television series to reprise her role from the films.

After decades of writing, directing and producing notable films in Denmark, on 23 September 2011, Bille August announced that he had opened a studio in Hangzhou, China and taken a position as Tianpeng Media's Art Director, in order to produce Chinese films for Tianpeng Media over the next few years. Tianpeng Media is a new media company established in 2010. The company produced two films, The Women Knight of Mirror (竞雄女侠秋瑾) and The Years of Qi Xiao Fu (七小福之燃情岁月), to be released later in 2011. He is the first foreign director to be hired by the Chinese film company. In 2011 August also accepted the invitation from the Hangzhou government to serve as a "culture consultant" for the city. [1]

His film Night Train to Lisbon (2013) premiered out of competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. [2] He had planned to direct a Gianni Versace biopic with Antonio Banderas as Versace, but this project was cancelled. [3] [4] In August 2021, it was announced that August would direct a feature film adaptation of Karen Blixen's novel Ehrengard, which is being produced by Netflix and SF Studios. [5]

Personal life

August has been married four times, and had four children by two of his wives.

He was first married to Annie Munksgård Lauritzen. His second wife was Masja Dessau. Together they had two children, Anders Frithiof August (born 15 June 1978) and Adam August (born in 1983). They have both become screenwriters. His third marriage to Swedish actress Pernilla August was from 1991 to 1997. Together they had daughters Asta Kamma August (born 5 November 1991) and Alba Adèle August (born 6 June 1993); he also became the stepfather of her daughter Agnes from her first marriage to Swedish novelist and screenwriter Klas Östergren. In 2012, he married his fourth and current wife, Sara-Marie Maltha.

In addition, August fathered four other children by two women outside marriage.



YearTitleFunctioned asNotes
1978 In My Life YesYes Bodil Award for Best Danish Film
Nominated- Chicago Gold Hugo
Nominated- Golden Moscow Prize
1983 Zappa YesYesNominated- Golden Moscow Prize
1984 Busters verden YesNo UNICEF Award
C.I.F.E.J. Prize of the International Film Festival for Children and Youth [6]
Twist and Shout YesYes Robert Award for Best Screenplay
C.I.F.E.J. Prize of the International Film Festival for Children and Youth
Nominated- Golden Moscow Prize
1987 Pelle the Conqueror YesYes Palme d'Or [7]
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film [8]
Bodil Award for Best Danish Film
Robert Award for Best Danish Film
Robert Award for Best Screenplay
Guldbagge Award for Best Film [9]
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language
Nominated- César Award for Best European Film
1992 The Best Intentions YesNo Palme d'Or [10]
Nominated- Guldbagge Award for Best Director
1993 The House of the Spirits YesYes Robert Award for Best Danish Film
Robert Award for Best Screenplay
1996 Jerusalem YesYes Lübeck Nordic Film Days
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow YesNoNominated- Golden Berlin Bear [11]
1998 Les Misérables YesNoNominated- Golden Cairo Pyramid Award
2001 A Song for Martin YesYesNominated- Bodil Award for Best Danish Film
Nominated- Crystal Globe
Nominated- Guldbagge Award for Best Director
Nominated- Guldbagge Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated- Golden Festroia Dolphin
Nominated- Miami Grand Jury Prize
2004 Return to Sender YesNo
2007 Goodbye Bafana YesYes Berlin Peace Film Award
Capri Arts Award
Nominated- Golden Berlin Bear

Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Director of the Year [12]

To Each His Own Cinema YesNo
2012 The Passion of Marie YesNoNominated- Chicago Gold Hugo
2013 Night Train to Lisbon YesNo
2014 Silent Heart YesNo Bodil Award for Best Danish Film
Nominated- Robert Award for Best Danish Film
Nominated- Robert Award for Best Director
Nominated- Robert Audience Award
Nominated- Nordic Council Film Prize
Nominated- Golden Shell
2017 The Chinese Widow YesNoNominated- Shanghai Golden Goblet Award for Best Feature Film
55 Steps YesNo
2018 A Fortunate Man YesYes Beijing Tiantian Award for Best Film
Nominated- Robert Award for Best Danish Film
Nominated- Robert Award for Best Director
Nominated- Robert Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated- Filmfest Hamburg Critics Choice Award
2021The PactYesNoNominated- Beijing Tiantian Award for Best Film

As cinematographer

1977ChristianiaFlemming Colstrup
Ove Nyholm
Documentary film
Hemåt i nattenJon Lindström
1978 Men Can't Be Raped Jörn Donner
1980Love Theodor Kallifatides
Mördare! Mördare!Jon Lindström
Tomas: A Child You Cannot Reach Lone Hertz Documentary film
1981 Killing Heat Michael Raeburn
1982Sova räv Gun Jönsson


YearTitleFunctioned asNotes
1978Et par dage med MagnusYesNo Miniseries
1980Verden er så stor, så storYesYes Television film
1982MajYesNo Television film
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles YesNo2 episodes
2003DetaljerYesYes Television film

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  1. "Academy Award-winning director Bille August opens his studio in Hangzhou". Asia Pacific arts. 10 April 2011. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  2. "Berlinale 2013: Competition Now Complete". berlinale. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  3. "Antonio Banderas Cancels 'Versace' Project". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  4. "Bille August Set to Direct Versace Biopic With Antonio Banderas". Variety. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  5. Grater, Tom (31 August 2021). "Bille August To Direct Karen Blixen's Ehrengard For Netflix & SF Studios". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  6. Busters Verden Awards, IMDb, retrieved 24 July 2020
  7. "Festival de Cannes: Pelle the Conqueror". Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  8. "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  9. "Pelle Erobreren (1987)". Swedish Film Institute. 15 March 2014.
  10. "Festival de Cannes: The Best Intentions". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  11. "Berlinale: 1997 Programme". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  12. Uhr, 13 Februar 2007 14:05. "Starrummel bei Berlinale: Richard Gere spielte am Piano auf". Mittelbayerische Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 23 July 2020.