Mick Csáky obituary


Mick Csáky, who has died of issues from leukaemia aged 77, was one of many documentary-makers outdoors the established tv system who fought in the course of the Seventies to get their independently made productions on display.

The arrival of Channel 4, conceived as a commissioner of programmes reasonably than a producer, gave him his likelihood. He seized it firmly with Africa (1984), an eight-part examination of the continent and its society, from the civilisations of the Nile valley and east Africa’s hyperlinks with Arabia and the east to slavery, decolonisation and South Africa.

The sequence was introduced by the journalist Basil Davidson, an authority on the topic, however Csáky – as govt producer – mapped it out as historical past from an African standpoint. He additionally directed one of many episodes, Caravans of Gold, concerning the supply of the continent’s commerce and wealth within the center ages.

All through his profession, he made movies encompassing historical past, the humanities and human tales. Amongst these he directed was Mozart in Turkey (2000), combining documentary with excerpts from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Additionally its producer, he spent three years negotiating the staging of the opera within the Topkapi palace, Istanbul.

One venture combining music and fashionable historical past was Africa Dwell: The Roll Again Malaria Live performance (2005). Csáky conceived this bold manufacturing, that includes greater than 100 African musicians performing in Senegal, with the singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour. It achieved Csáky’s ambition of bringing the music to a worldwide TV viewers and elevating funds to fight malaria. Just like the Mozart documentary, it was screened in Britain by the BBC.

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Assembly an Exxon tiger whereas filming Oil

Csáky was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, a twin brother to John, and one of many three sons of Mary (nee Baker), a botanist, and Alexander Csáky, a Hungarian immigrant, and grew up on a farm. When he was six, his father grew to become fencing grasp and farm supervisor at Bedales faculty, Hampshire – which Mick attended – additionally designing and constructing stage units for productions there.

Between 1963 and 1971, he studied at Farnham and St Martins artwork colleges, and the Royal Faculty of Artwork’s movie faculty in London, the place he shot and edited fellow college students’ productions. On the identical time, he was taking nonetheless images for installations at exhibitions and museums – an curiosity shared by his twin, who loved a celebrated profession designing for venues such because the V&A.

Csáky’s commencement movie, Vox Pop, introduced him to the eye of Humphrey Burton, editor of ITV’s arts sequence Aquarius. He joined the manufacturing staff as a researcher in 1971 and labored the next yr on a portrait of the sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar and an episode together with an interview with John Lennon, whose efficiency of Attica State abruptly ends when the previous Beatle forgets the final verse.

Together with his first impartial manufacturing firm, Footage That Transfer – and his spouse, Jeanne Du Pasquier, an artist, whom he married in 1972 – Csáky produced and directed his personal debut documentary, Berber (1972). Screened by Aquarius, it featured the people music of Morocco’s indigenous folks.

After Csáky left ITV to freelance, he had small successes as a producer-director on the BBC. Return to Hong Kong (1975) was introduced by the journalist James Cameron for The World About Us sequence, whereas How Does It Really feel? (1976) was an Omnibus programme with the composer Michael Tippett, the painter David Hockney and others speaking concerning the artistic position of the senses.

However independently made documentaries remained tough to get on tv and Csáky took cost of particular tasks on the company movies enterprise Viscom in 1975. He left to develop into chief govt of the writer Mitchell Beazley’s newly fashioned tv division six years later and commenced work on Africa, which was nominated for an Emmy award and gained the New York Movie & Tv pageant gold award.

Two main influences on his documentary-making have been the Seventies BBC sequence The Ascent of Man, introduced by the science historian Jacob Bronowski, and Life on Earth, David Attenborough’s account of the evolution of life. They made him wish to make what he known as topics with a “lengthy shelf-life”.

He ran his personal impartial manufacturing firm Csáky Ltd from 1983, then Antelope Movies from 1988 till 2020. He landed commissions from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, typically mounting co-productions with overseas broadcasters to lift the mandatory budgets.

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Filming on location in Somerset in 1975, together with his spouse and son Leo

Political and historic programmes he directed himself included Oil (1986), about its social, political and financial influence globally; Killing the Dragon (1988), on a radical remedy for heroin habit being administered by Buddhist monks in Thailand; and The Midas Contact (1990), exploring cash within the fashionable world.

As a producer, Csáky labored on The Cuban Missile Disaster: Eyeball to Eyeball (1992, an Emmy award winner), Chairman Mao: The Final Emperor (1993), Hiroshima: The Resolution to Drop the Bomb (1995) and 444 Days (1998), concerning the 1979 Iranian hostage disaster in Tehran.

When turning to opera to direct Placido Domingo: A Musical Life (1995), he gained in depth entry to the tenor, who informed him: “Your voice has to shine … as a tenor, the day you lose that shine you must cease.” Different arts programmes he directed included Chasing a Rainbow: The Lifetime of Josephine Baker (1986), an Worldwide Emmy award winner, and a South Financial institution Present on Rudolf Nureyev (1991).

Between 1992 and 2000, Csáky was head of arts at Meridian, the south of England ITV firm, and equipped it with programmes, together with the regional arts and leisure present The Pier.

Though documentary-making by no means made him wealthy, Csáky mentioned he discovered it “very rewarding” in different methods, permitting him to inform the tales of many individuals and international locations. One in all his later programmes, The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (2011), delivered to a tv viewers the gospel singer who influenced Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Csáky’s brother John died in 2007. He’s survived by his spouse, their youngsters, Leo, Corinna and Tim, and eight grandchildren, and his youthful brother, Adrian.


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