British filmmaker and documentary maker Michael Apted dies at 79

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No details of his death were immediately available.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of the esteemed director, longtime leader of the DGA and my friend Michael Apted. His legacy will forever be woven into the fabric of cinema and our Guild, ”said Thomas Schlamme, President of the DGA.

“A fearless visionary as a unparalleled Director and Guild Leader, Michael has seen the course of things when others haven’t, and we have all been the beneficiaries of his lifelong wisdom and dedication. ”Said Schlamme.

Born in 1941 in Aylesbury, England, Apted had prolific work in television, film and documentaries.

He directed the 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture in the Musical and Comedy category. Sissy Spacek won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film.

He has also produced other notable works including “Agatha”, “Gorky Park”, “Gorillas in the Mist”, “Nell” and “Enough”.

Apted directed the 1999 film “The World is Not Enough”, which is part of the James Bond series, as well as the third installment of the “The Chronicles of Narnia” film franchise.

Apted’s most famous documentary work was the long series “Up”. Over a dozen lives of Britons have been traced over the decades, starting with 14 seven-year-olds in the movie “Seven Up! ”

Subsequent films were produced every seven years, revisiting how the lives of each of the children had changed as they entered adulthood, and later old age in the final production, “63 Up.”

In 2003, Apted was elected President of the DGA, until 2009. His six-year term was the longest for a President of the DGA since the 1960s.

Steven Soderbergh, Director and Co-Founder of the Guild Independent Directors Committee with Apted, said: “I spent countless hours two feet away from Michael and loved every minute of it. Apart from his remarkable work, what he has given to The DGA cannot be measured; he put all of his BEING into the Guild and made us all follow his example. We were fortunate to have and know him. ”

In 2009, he was named a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in the entertainment industries.

He is survived by his wife Paige and their three children.

CNN’s Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.

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