HARLEY COKELISS – DIRECTOR
Harley Cokeliss is an award-winning director renowned for his work in the areas of suspense thrillers, science fiction, family films and fantasy, he has worked widely in Europe, North American and Australasia.
His recent time travel adventure AN ANGEL FOR MAY, won eleven first prizes at international film festivals from Antwerp to Tokyo, was awarded the UNICEF Prize, and was nominated for an International Emmy.
Harley began his career producing and directing documentaries for the BBC and ITV, including CHICAGO STREETS, which won the Silver Pearl for Best Documentary at the Milan Television Film Festival and CRASH, made in collaboration with the novelist J.G. Ballard, which has recently been selected to feature in the Ghosts in the Machine exhibition at the New Museum in New York in July 2012.
He went on to make two award-winning children’s films. THE BATTLE OF BILLY’S POND was chosen to be the Royal Premiere Children’s Film of its year and went on to win prizes at film festivals around the world, including the First Prize at the Belgrade Film Festival. THE GLITTERBALL, which followed the next year, also received a Royal Premiere. It too won many international awards, such as the Ruby Slipper Prize at the Los Angeles Children’s Film Festival and the Silver Prize for Children’s Films at the Moscow Film Festival. It was also chosen for the XVI Festival Internazionale Del Film D’Fantascienza in Trieste, the Berlin Kinder- Film Festival, the Prize Winners’ Festival, Paris, and the Fantasporto Festival in Portugal, where it received a Best Film nomination.
He made his first feature length film, THAT SUMMER! for Columbia Pictures (UK). The well- received coming of age story starred Ray Winstone in his first screen appearance.
He was Second Unit Director on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK for producer George Lucas, and was responsible for many of the stunt and special effect sequences, including the memorable laser sword fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.
Afterwards, he went to New Zealand to make the science-fiction adventure BATTLETRUCK, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Avoriaz Festival du Film Fantastique.
In Hollywood, he made BLACK MOON RISING, starring Tommy Lee Jones, and Linda Hamilton for New World Pictures. The film received a BEST FILM nomination at ‘MystFest’, the International Mystery Film Festival at Cattolica in Italy. MALONE, starring Burt Reynolds, Cliff Robertson and Lauren Hutton, followed the next year for Orion Pictures.
Returning to London, he made the surreal horror thriller, DREAM DEMON for Palace Pictures. The film was chosen for festivals in London, Avoriaz, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Rio. Stars Jemma Redgrave and Kathleen Wilhoite shared the Best Actress Prize at the Paris Festival of Science- Fiction and Fantasy Films in 1990 for their work in the audacious and technically advanced film, which also received a Best Film nomination at the Fantasporto Festival.
Harley returned to New Zealand to make HERCULES AND THE LOST KINGDOM for Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Renaissance Pictures and Universal Television. The two-hour film became the pilot for the successful television series. Later Harley directed episodes of both the HERCULES series and it’s spin-off, XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS.
Harley directed THE RUBY RING for Hallmark Productions and Producer Don Reynolds. Shot in Scotland, the film starred Rutger Hauer, Judy Parfitt, Samantha Bond and introduced Emily Hamilton as a time-traveling teenager. The film was chosen as the Thanksgiving Day Special for the SHOWTIME CHANNEL.
Harley shot his next film, PILGRIM (US title: ‘Inferno’), in the strange desert landscape around the port of San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico. The suspense thriller, from a script that he developed with screenwriter Peter Milligan, starred Ray Liotta, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Gloria Reuben. The film was selected for the Brussels International Thriller Festival and the Rome Film Festival.
Working again with screenwriter Peter Milligan, Harley developed AN ANGEL FOR MAY, based on the award winning book by Melvin Burgess. The film was shot in Yorkshire and stars Tom Wilkinson, Geraldine James, Anna Massey, Hugo Speer and two remarkable young actors, Matthew Beard and Charlotte Wakefield. The film has won many prizes at festivals around the world from Tokyo to Antwerp and received an International Emmy Nomination for Best Family Film of 2003. The prizes won are: First Prize, the Vienna Children’s Film Festival 2004, the Grand Prix at the Tokyo Kinder Film Festival, 2003; the First Prize at the European Youth Film Festival where it was named “European Youth Film of the Year”, Antwerp, 2003; the Jury Prize at the Montreal International Children’s Film Festival, 2003; the Grand Prix at the Oulu Film Festival, Finland, 2003; the Youth Jury’s Best Picture Prize as well as the Best Film Prize from the Professional Jury at the Reel to Real Festival, Vancouver, 2003, the Jury Prize for Best Feature Film at the Freeze Frame International Festival of Films, Winnipeg, 2003, the Jury Prize for Best Picture at the International Film Festival for Kids of All Ages, Brandon, 2003, the UNICEF Prize at the Flicks Festival, Canada, 2003, the Best Feature Prize at The Cinemagic Festival, Belfast, 2002, ‘The Campagnia Medal’ at the Giffoni International Film Festival. 2002. The film was also chosen as “one of the Outstanding British Films of the Year” at the Dinard Festival du Film Britannique, 2002 and uniquely was invited back to screen at the festival again in 2003. Most recently the film has been invited to screen again in November 2009 at the Oulu Film Festival in Finland, where it had previously won the Grand Prix.
In February 2010 Harley directed PARIS CONNECTIONS in Paris, the murder mystery starred Charles Dance, Anouk Aimee, Anthony Delon and Nicole Steinwedell.
Harley has served on juries for the BAFTAs, the International Emmys, and at a number of film festivals. He has been the Directing Mentor at the EU’s Pygmalion programme in the UK and Germany, and was invited to sit on the Expert Panel, at the 2008 CineKids Festival in Amsterdam, discussing the future of the financing and distribution of European family films. Harley was also chosen to participate at the 1st KIDS Regio Forum in Erfurt, Germany on ’The Future of European Children’s Film’ in June 2009.
Harley is a member of the Directors Guild of America and Directors UK and is represented by IPG in Los Angeles.