Born on April 16, 1940 in Venlo, Limburg, Netherlands. His father Wim Cox was the publisher of the Catholic newspaper Nieuwe Venlosche Courant.  He was commissioned in 1938 by the chairman of the ‘RK Bond voor Groote Families’ (Catholic Association for Large Families) to make the film Levensgang (‘The Journey of Life’.) The DACC has a documentary from 2001 on this movie (See: Deel 4 – Ode aan het grote gezin. Paul Cox provides some of the commentary).

However, during the war Wim lost his newspaper business and there was no demand for movie production. He reverted to photography to support his family; the family suffered during the war. He was also accused of collaborating with the Germans. Wim became very bitter and according to Paul that situation only got worse during the period after the war. In 1965 Paul decided to ‘escape’ the situation. He had been in Australia before (1963) as a student but this time decided to officially migrate, he settled in Melbourne.

Over the next 50 years Paul Cox had a major impact on Australian indie cinema with films like his 1982 movie “Lonely Hearts”.  This explores the life of a middle-aged man searching for love through a dating agency, won the AFI award for best film and was nominated in four other categories. Man of Flowers, which was cowritten by Bob Ellis, was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1984 Cannes film festival.

After his initial breakthrough, the director released “Man of Flowers” in 1983.

My First Wife, was also cowritten with Ellis, was a portrait of the dissolution of a marriage and won John Hargreaves the best actor in a lead role AFI award in 1984 as well as best director for Cox.

In 1999 Cox collaborated with Wenham on Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, a 1999 biographical film of Father Damien, a Belgian priest working at the Kalaupapa leprosy settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

His 2000 film, Innocence, which starred Bud Tingwell and Julia Blake, was critically acclaimed for its poignant portrayal of two separated lovers who meet by chance again decades later and rekindle their romance. It won no fewer than 12 awards, mostly overseas, including the people’s choice award for best film at the Montreal and Toronto film festivals.

A year before his death he wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical “Force of Destiny.” The film starred David Wenham as a man awaiting a liver transplant.

This is a list of his full oeuvre:

1968 · Skindeep

1972 · The Journey

1975 · We Are All Alone My Dear

1975 · The Island

1976 · Illuminations

1977 · Inside Looking Out

1979 · Kostas

1980 · The Kingdom of Nek Chand

1981 · Lonely Hearts

1983 · Man of Flowers

1984 · My First Wife

1986 · Cactus

1987 · Vincent

1989 · Island

1990 · Golden Braid

1991 · A Woman’s Tale

1992 · The Nun and the Bandit

1993 · Touch Me

1994 · Exile (1994)

1996 · Lust and Revenge

1997 · The Hidden Dimension

1999 · Molokai: The Story of Father Damien

2000 · Innocence

2001 · The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky

2004 · Human Touch

2005 · The Remarkable Mr. Kaye

2008 · Salvation

2014 · Force of Destiny

A cause of death was not revealed, but Cox had been struggling with health issues in recent years. He had long battled cancer and underwent a liver transplant in 2009. He died  on 18 June 2016

He also received the honourable title of father of the Independent Film Industry of Australia.

Paul Budde (2021)

Paul Cox
Behind the camera
Shortly before his death
Force of Destiny

See other personal stories.