May 30, 1972
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With his creative partner Espen Sandberg, Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Rønning helmed "Max Manus: Man of War" (2008) and "Kon-Tiki" (2012), two substantial hits based on historically significant figures from their native country, before moving to American features with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (2017). Born May 30, 1972 in Sandefjord, Norway, he made his first short films on video as a teenager with childhood friend Espen Sandberg, with whom he attended the Stockholm Film School in Sweden in 1992. After graduating two years later, the duo made instructional films for the Royal Norwegian Army as part of their mandatory military service, then founded their own production company, Roenberg, in 1995. They directed numerous television advertisements and music videos in Scandinavia, which led to assignments for major companies both in Europe and the United States; among their campaigns for the American markets were spots for Capital One and a commercial for USA Today that aired during the Super Bowl in 2001. The following year, Rønning and Sandberg joined forces with Dutch-Norwegian filmmaker Harald Zwart ("The Karate Kid," 2010) to found Motion Blur, one of the largest production companies in Scandinavia. They made their feature film directorial debut with "Bandidas" (2006), a French-Mexican-American Western produced by Luc Besson and starring Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz. It proved to be a modest hit, but its follow-up, "Max Manus: Man of War," a biopic of the Norwegian Resistance fighter who battled the Nazis during World War II, was a critical and box office hit in Norway and earned the pair the People's Amanda - the equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar - from the Amanda Awards in 2009. They also mined Norwegian history for their next feature, "Kon-Tiki," about the famed expedition from South American to the Polynesian Islands conducted by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947. The film became the highest-grossing Norwegian film of 2012, but more importantly, introduced Rønning and Sandberg to international audiences, who helped the film earn both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. After directing the first two episodes of the expensive Netflix television series "Marco Polo" (2014-2016), Ronning and Sandberg were announced as directors for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth installment of Walt Disney Studios' popular and lucrative franchise starring Johnny Depp.