ANTHONY Minghella was born into a famous family - well, famous on the Isle of Wight, anyway.

His Italian parents are the people behind Minghella's Ice Cream. But while his friends may have been impressed by his family fame he and his siblings also suffered a certain amount of xenophobia growing up on the Island at a time when the thought of eating pasta was a revelation to many of their schoolmates.

And rather than being outsiders his parents were always at the heart of the local community - his mother was a JP and a mayor.

After attending the University of Hull he briefly worked as a university professor where he started writing music and plays.

He won the London Theatre Critics Award in 1984 for Most Promising Playwright and in 1986 for Best Play with Made In Bangkok.

Minghella also cut his writing teeth on children's series Grange Hill as well as Inspector Morse before writing his first feature film 1991's Truly Madly Deeply, which he also directed.

This was Minghella's directorial debut. Originally the film was intended for television release and Minghella decided to try his hand at directing thinking the movie would not have a large audience and it would be a good opportunity to develop his skills.

He has also written and directed The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley, Cold Mountain and Breaking and Entering.

He has directed a glittering array of Hollywood talent, including Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Alan Rickman and Juliette Binoche.

Minghella won the Best Director Oscar in 1997 for The English Patient. He has won a further 23 awards and received 35 nominations.

He is currently chairman of the British Film Institute.

Name: Anthony Minghella Occupation: film director, producer and writer Date of birth: January 6, 1954 Local link: Born and brought up on the Isle of Wight