Antonia Bird, the director of the cult classic Ravenous, has died at the age of 54.
Bird started her career in television, directing episodes of Eastenders, The Bill and Inspector Morse before breaking through into cinema with the searing 1994 drama Priest, starring Linus Roache and Robert Carlyle, in which the titular character struggled to reconcile his faith and his sexuality.
Bird directed the Drew Barrymore romantic drama Mad Love (1995) before returning to England to make gritty crime drama Face (1997) with Carlyle and Ray Winstone. It would be Carlyle who would suggest that Bird take over the reins on dark comedy cannibal western Ravenous when original director Milcho Manchevski was replaced.
Ravenous remains a unique film, not just because of its status as a genre hybrid, but because of the sense of humour that Bird brings to the material. Given its troubled production, Ravenous should by all rights be a total mess, but Bird manages to keep that strange tone absolutely consistent and she brought a real authorial voice to the film. The film’s music is also unforgettable; a collaboration between Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman. It’s strangely overlooked but it’s one of the most interesting and entertaining horror films of the 1990s and there’s really nothing else quite like it.
After Ravenous, Bird returned to television, working on series such as Cracker, the award-winning television film Care and, more recently, The Village. It has been reported that Bird had been suffering from an illness when she passed away yesterday. She will be missed.