May 18, 2008 / 5:52 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX: Spielberg comes to Cannes

(Reuters) - Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, 61, is at the Cannes film festival on Sunday with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

Here are some facts on Spielberg:

EARLY LIFE:

* Steven Allan Spielberg was born in December 1946 in Ohio.

* He made his first short film “Amblin’” (1969). The 24-minute film impressed executives at the television unit of Universal enough to offer Spielberg a job as a TV director.

* One of his early made-for-TV movies, “Duel” (1972), starring Dennis Weaver, was shown in cinemas in Europe, where it enjoyed both critical and commercial success.

FIRST SUCCESSES:

* “Jaws” (1975), was his first major success both critically and financially. Made for about $15 million, “Jaws” grossed $260 million domestically. His second success was “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), which revealed the first flowering of his cinematic obsession with the world of childhood innocence.

* Riding high after two back-to-back blockbusters, Spielberg attempted a big-budget comedy with “1941” (1979). Though it ultimately turned a profit, the film was perceived as a self-indulgent flop.

* In 1981 a humbled Spielberg chose his next project carefully by working under the watchful eye of a tough producer and one of his closest friends, George Lucas. The result was “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The movie introduced the world to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford).

PHONE HOME:

* “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982). “E.T.” captured the hearts and minds of moviegoers of all ages and went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time until it was beaten by one of Spielberg’s own films, “Jurassic Park” in 1993.

A GRITTIER SPIELBERG:

* Regarded as a maker of mass-market films, Spielberg yearned for artistic legitimacy. He made “Schindler’s List” (1993). The story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust, it won Spielberg a first best-director Oscar.

* A year later Spielberg co-founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to videotape the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

* He returned to World War Two for “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) which was praised for its no-holds-barred depiction of war and Spielberg won his second best-director Oscar.

RECENT FILMS:

* In 2005 Spielberg remade the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic, “War of the Worlds” casting Tom Cruise as a working class father who must step up and protect his two children during an alien invasion. “Munich” followed, a film about Israel’s response to the killing of its athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games.

BEIJING OLYMPIC CONTROVERSY:

* Spielberg said in February 2008 he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to this year’s Olympics in Beijing due to the Chinese government’s policy over conflict in Darfur.

Sources: Reuters/www.tcmdb.com

(Editing by Keith Weir)

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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