Date of Birth: November 15, 1945
Born in Ballarat, Australia, Donaldson emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 19. He was interested in filmmaking, but because the Kiwi film industry was all but non-existent, he had to make do with creating television commercials and documentaries.
Some of his earliest work as a director included Winners and Losers, a group of seven short dramas for New Zealand television. By 1977, he was finally able to scrape up enough cash to make his film debut with the futuristic political drama Sleeping Dogs. The first film to come out of New Zealand in 15 years, the project sparked the creation of the country's first film commission. Donaldson's next project, Smash Palace, which he wrote, directed and produced, brought his work to the attention of audiences worldwide.
Donaldson then became a co-founder of the country's Film Commission and would not direct again until 1992.
His first film for an American-based production company came when he was hired to direct the retelling of the classic, Mutiny of the Bounty, entitled The Bounty (1984), starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. The film would garner Donaldson a Golden Palm nomination from the Cannes Film Festival.
After completing the political drama, Marie (1985), Donaldson would go on to direct the thriller, No Way Out (1987). Starring Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman, this film jolted viewers with one of the most unusual twists at the film's conclusion. It would become a success both in the States and overseas.
Donaldson has avoided being pegged to a particular style of filmmaking by working with a variety of genres. His additional credits include the ever popular Cocktail (1988), the successful Cadillac Man (1990), The Getaway (1994), Species (1995) and Dante's Peak (1997). In 2005 he was nominated for a Golden Seashell at the San Sebastian International Film Festival for The World's Fastest Indian.
The World's Fastest Indian (2006)
The Recruit (2003)
Thirteen Days (2000)
Dante's Peak (1997)
The Getaway (1994)
White Sands (1992)
Cadillac Man (1990)
No Way Out (1987)
The Bounty (1984)
Smash Palace (1981)
Sleeping Dogs (1977)