Director of the critically acclaimed films Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ironweed.
His breakout film Pixote, which was about Brazil's impoverished children, came out in 1981.
He underwent a bone marrow transplant to cure lymphatic cancer in 1994.
His father was from the Ukraine and his mother was a Polish-Jewish immigrant.
He acted alongside Javier Bardem in the Oscar-nominated 2000 film Before Night Falls.