Mike Dibb: Documentary filmmaker (1940-) | Biography
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Mike Dibb
Documentary filmmaker

Mike Dibb

Mike Dibb
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Documentary filmmaker
Is Film director
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 1 January 1940
Age 83 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Mike Dibb (born Leeds, West Yorkshire, 1940) is an award-winning English documentary filmmaker. In almost half a century of making films mainly for television - on subjects including cinema, literature, art, jazz, sport and popular culture - "he has defined and re-defined not only the televisual art documentary genre but has been able to make moving image pieces as a form of self portraiture". Dibb has made many acclaimed films, including on Federico García Lorca, C. L. R. James, Astor Piazzolla, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Barbara Thompson and other notable subjects. In the words of Sukhdev Sandhu in The Guardian: "In a career spanning almost five decades, it's possible Dibb has shaped more ideas and offered more ways of seeing than any other TV documentarian of his generation." Mike Dibb is the father of film director Saul Dibb.


After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, with a BA (Hons) degree, Mike Dibb joined BBC TV in 1963. He worked as an Assistant Film Editor/Film Editor in the BBC Film Department until 1967, and then joined the Music and Arts Department.

Between 1967 and 1971 he directed numerous films on a range of subjects for various BBC series, including The Movies, Moviemakers at the NFT, Canvas, The Craftsmen, New Release, Omnibus. In 1972 he produced a four-part series of 30-minute films called Ways of Seeing, now regarded not only as "a landmark work of British arts broadcasting, but as a key moment in the democratisation of art education". Scripted by writer John Berger, Ways of Seeing won a BAFTA Award for Best Specialised Series, and was the basis of a bestselling book designed by Richard Hollis, jointly published by the BBC and Penguin Books in 1972.

In 1976 Dibb made a film based on Beyond a Boundary, the classic book by C. L. R. James, and on 23 February 1979 the BBC broadcast his film based on The Country and the City by Raymond Williams.

In 1983, Dibb left the staff of the BBC to work independently. He joined Third Eye Productions, a company formed by several other ex-members of the BBC Music and Arts department, including Barrie Gavin, Peter West and Geoff Haydon. After 1986 Dibb began to make many of his films through his own company, Dibb Directions Ltd (DD).

The many notable documentaries he has made include The Spirit of Lorca, about poet Federico García Lorca (in collaboration with Lorca's biographer Ian Gibson, 1986; Gold Award NY Festival of Film and TV) and What’s Cuba Playing At? (on the Afro-Spanish roots of Cuban music; BBC Arena, 1985), Tango Maestro – The life and music of Astor Piazzolla (2005, BBC), and Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation (2005, Channel 4). With Stephen Frears in 1994 he co-directed Typically British, a BFI/Channel 4 documentary on the history of British cinema.

In November 2011, Dibb participated in a Masterclass in conversation with David A. Bailey as part of the International Curators Forum two-day intervention at the Arnolfini in Bristol.

His two-hour film The Miles Davis Story (DD and Channel 4 Television) won the Royal Philharmonic Society TV award and an International Emmy award for arts documentary of the year 2001.

Dibb's most recent film, Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time, is a 75-minute "musical-medico" documentary film "about Parkinson's disease seen through the prism of music", chronicling the celebrated saxophonist's fight to keep performing despite having developed the condition. It was first transmitted on BBC Four on 19 February 2012.

His first book, Spellwell (2010, Muswell Press), written in rhyming couplets and illustrated by Roddy Maude-Roxby, was a playful guide to the idiosyncrasies of English-language spelling.

Select filmography

  • 2011 Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time (BBC Four)
  • 2009 Personally Speaking: A Long Conversation with Stuart Hall, interviewed by Maya Jaggi
  • 2005 Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation (Channel 4)
  • 2004 Edward Said: The Last Interview (ICA Projects)
  • 2004 Tango Maestro - The life and music of Astor Piazzolla (DD/BBC)
  • 2003 Steven Rose – political scientist (BBC Four profile)
  • 2003 Edward Said (presented by Charles Glass, BBC Four profile)
  • 2002 Studs Terkel (BBC Four profile)
  • 2001 The Miles Davis Story (Channel 4)
  • 1999 The Beginning of The End of the Affair (exploration of the real-life background to Graham Greene’s celebrated novel; BBC)
  • 1996 A Curious Mind - A.S. Byatt (BBC Bookmark)
  • 1996 The Fame and Shame of Salvador Dalí (with Dalí biographer Ian Gibson; BBC)
  • 1995 The Further Adventures of Don Quixote (BBC Bookmark)
  • 1994 Typically British (with Stephen Frears; Channel 4/BFI)
  • 1991 Elmore Leonard’s Criminal Records (BBC)
  • 1989 Octavio Paz (BBC)
  • 1985 What’s Cuba Playing At? (BBC Arena)
  • 1984 Memories of The Future - John Ruskin and William Morris (Channel 4)
  • 1984 C. L. R. James in conversation with Stuart Hall (Channel 4)
  • 1983 Classically Cuban (on Alicia Alonso and Cuban National Ballet; BBC)
  • 1979 The Country and the City (with Raymond Williams, based on his classic study of English literature; BBC)
  • 1976 Beyond a Boundary (with C. L. R. James, based on his classic book of the same name about cricket; BBC Omnibus)
  • 1976 Seeing Through Drawing (with David Hockney, Jim Dine, Ralph Steadman and others; BBC)
  • 1972 Ways of Seeing (with John Berger, BBC; BAFTA Award 1972)

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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