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Shawn Slovo was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Although she was raised in South Africa, she left there in her early teens and arrived in the United Kingdom with her family, as political refugees.
Her first feature screenplay, the autobiographical A World Apart, became a Working Title–produced film directed by Chris Menges. At the 1988 Cannes International Film Festival, the movie won three awards; the Grand Prix, the Ecumenical Prize, and Best Actress. The latter was given jointly to A World Apart's three female leads, Barbara Hershey, Jodhi May, and Linda Mvusi.
Ms. Slovo has since written screenplays both in the United Kingdom and the United States, collaborating with such directors as Shekar Kapur, Roger Michell, Michael Mann, Agnieszka Holland, and Mike Newell, amongst others.
For Working Title, she wrote the screenplay adaptation of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the film of which was directed by John Madden. She is currently adapting Bobby Fisher Goes to War for Working Title and Company Pictures, to be directed by Kevin Macdonald.