Hood got his start at directing when he was commissioned to make several short educational dramas for the South African Department of Health. He directed his first commercial short film, The Storekeeper, in 1998.
His first feature film, A Reasonable Man, followed in 1999. The film portrays the accidental killing of a young child who is mistaken for a tokoloshe. He also starred in, co-produced and wrote the script for this movie. Hood then went on to direct the Polish language 2001 feature film In Desert and Wilderness (W pustyni i w puszczy) when the original director fell ill. This was followed by Tsotsi in 2005. Tsotsi won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. Gavin Hood was also nominated for the 2005 Non-European Film - Prix Screen International at the European Film Awards for his work on the film.
In 2000, Variety magazine named him as one of its "Ten Directors to Watch".
He directed Rendition (2007), his first Hollywood feature, for New Line Cinema. He also directed the summer blockbuster film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, with Hugh Jackman reprising his role from the X-Men films.
Prior to the film's release, Gavin talked about the political undertones of the new Wolverine movie; "Any movie that is simply about good versus evil...is in my view putting out into the world and certainly into a mass audience and young audience's mind a rather dangerous philosophy, which is that there is good and evil in the simplistic and easily defined way... I think that for the last eight years, we've had that philosophy very much prevalent in the Bush administration that if you're on the side of good, at least as you perceive it, then you can do no evil...That's what's so great about this character or about this movie for me and why I wanted to do it...This is a guy who recognizes his own capacity for evil and I think that's exciting in a sort of popular culture kind of way. After all, the most famous line from Wolverine, the comics, is "I am the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice."
In 2011, Hood began work at the helm of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. He will direct the project, having written a draft of Card's screenplay.
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