LONDON (AP) - Oscar
winning director Anthony Minghella, who turned such literary works as "The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain" into acclaimed movies
, has died. He was 54.
Minghella's death was confirmed Tuesday by his agent, Judy Daish. No other details were not immediately available.
"The English Patient," the 1996 World War II drama, won nine Academy Awards, including best director for Minghella, best picture and best supporting actress for Juliette Binoche.
Based on the celebrated novel by Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, the movie tells of a burn victim's tortured recollections of his misdeeds in time of war. Minghella also was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay for "English Patient," and for his screenplay for "The Talented Mr. Ripley."
Among his other acclaimed films were "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (1990), and last year's Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton," on which he was executive producer.
Minghella was recently in Botswana filming an adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's novel "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." It is due to air on British television
The book is the first in a series about the adventures of Botswanan private eye Precious Ramotswe; a 13-part television series was recently commission by U.S. network HBO.
Minghella also turned his talents to opera. In 2005, he directed a highly successful staging of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" at the English National Opera in London. The following year, he staged it for the season opener of New York's Metropolitan Opera. It was the first performance at the Met under general manager Peter Gelb.
Jeff Ramsay, press secretary to Botswanan President Festus Mogae, said Minghella's death was a "shock and an utter loss."
He said the director had been coming to the country ahead of the detective film and learning about Botswana.
Ramsay said Minghella had told him how he had been forced to shoot "Cold Mountain" - set in the United States - in Romania and that it had "seemed wrong." He said this made the director "more sure that the film could only be shot in Botswana."
Born the second of five children to southern Italian emigrants, Minghella came to moviemaking from a flourishing playwriting career on the London "fringe" and, in 1986, on the West End with the play, "Made in Bangkok," a hard-hitting look at the sexual mores of a British tour group in Thailand.
He worked as a television script editor before making his directing debut with "Truly, Madly, Deeply," a comedy about love and grief starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman.
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