Filmmaker Michael Radford is best known for helming the internationally praised and Oscar-nominated Il Postino (1994), the story of the friendship between an earnest local postman (the late Massimo Troisi, who died of a congenital heart ailment the day after filming wrapped) and the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret).
Of British and Austrian heritage, Radford was born and raised in India. He traveled to England as a young man to study philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford and worked as a teacher and an actor after graduating. In 1971, he joined the charter class at the newly established National Film School; upon graduating, he became a documentary filmmaker. His two most famous early films were The Madonna and the Volcano (1979) and Van Morrison in Ireland (1981); he made documentaries until 1983, when he switched to fiction by scripting and directing the WWII-era romance Another Time, Another Place. He followed this up with his faithful, but at times slow-paced adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, which featured Richard Burton in his final screen performance. White Mischief followed in 1987, but it was not until the success of Il Postino, seven years later, that Radford truly had his feature film breakthrough. Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1995, Il Postino was the first foreign film to garner this nomination since Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers 22 years earlier. Following the acclaim surrounding his film, Radford didn't make another major film for four years. In 1998, he bounced back with B. Monkey, a romantic crime drama starring Asia Argento, Jared Harris, Rupert Everett, and Jonathan Rhys Myers.