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'Midnight Express' and 'The Commitments' director Parker dies aged 76

Alan Parker was one of Britain's foremost filmmakers
Alan Parker was one of Britain's foremost filmmakers JACK GUEZ AFP
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London (AFP)

British director Alan Parker, whose long list of hits over the decades has included "Midnight Express" and "The Commitments", died Friday at the age of 76, his family said.

The multiple awards winner, whose other films include "Bugsy Malone", "Evita" and "Mississippi Burning", died "following a lengthy illness," his family said in a statement.

Parker blossomed in the 1970s, creating a rapid succession of celebrated and succesful films, starting with the striking 1976 gangster musical comedy "Bugsy Malone", which featured a cast of children.

His 1978 dark drama "Midnight Express", about a US student who ended up in a Turkish prison, was followed in 1980 by the genre-setting American teen musical drama "Fame".

"Alan was my oldest and closest friend, I was always in awe of his talent," said fellow British film director David Puttnam.

"My life and those of many others who loved and respected him will never be the same again."

He also directed Pink Floyd's cult musical "The Wall" in 1982, the US racial injustices drama "Mississippi Burning" in 1988, and the cheerful 1991 musical comedy drama "The Commitments", based on the eponymous novel by the Irish writer Roddy Doyle.

Parker's last major success came with the 1996 musical drama "Evita", in which Madonna played the leading role of Argentina's late first lady Eva Peron.

He collaborated with Oliver Stone on many of his works.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) said it was "deeply saddened" by the news, and the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science called Puttnam "an extraordinary talent".

"His work entertained us, connected us, and gave us such a strong sense of time and place," it said in a tweet, calling him "a chameleon" for his ability to bend genre and change with the times.

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