Ken Hannam


Australian film and television director Ken Hannam died November 16 in London after a long fight with cancer. He was 75.

Hannam was one of the major contributors to the Australian film revival in the 1970s. His 1975 debut feature, “Sunday Too Far Away,” is regarded as one of the finest Australian films ever made.

Hannam’s early career was spent in radio, where he wrote scripts for government broadcaster ABC and was appointed program manager at Sydney commercial station 2SM in 1955. His interest in acting landed him a small role opposite Robert Newton in Byron Haskin’s “Long John Silver,” filmed Down Under in 1954.

His directing career began in 1961, with the children’s series “Captain Fortune” and continued in Australia until 1968. He moved to England, directing episodes of “Z Cars,” “Paul Temple,” “Special Branch” and the “Colditz” series.

In 1974 Hannam returned to Australia to direct “Sunday Too Far Away,” a raw look at rivalry and camaraderie among sheep shearers in an outback station during the 1950’s. Pic won the Golden Reel at the Australian Film Awards and was selected for Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 1975.

He followed up with period drama “Break Of Day,” suspenser “Summerfield” and “Dawn!,” a biopic of Aussie swimming champion Dawn Fraser. Returning to England, he directed “Day Of The Triffids,” “Lovejoy,” “Minder” and “The Bill.”

His final assignment in Australia was the historical series “Robbery Under Arms,” co-directed with Donald Crombie in 1984.

Admired for his unpretentious ways and ability to feel comfortable anywhere in the world, Hannam travelled to Nicaragua in 1989 and worked as a volunteer picking coffee beans.

Hannam is survived by his wife Madlena, a son and a daughter, two brothers and three grandchildren.

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