Sunday, 16 October 2011

Woman of the Day KATHRYN BIGELOW

Kathryn Bigelow - the first female director in history to win the Academy Award for best picture with The Hurt Locker, which she also produced.  In addition, she's the first woman to win the BAFTA for Best Director (also for The Hurt Locker).

She's only the fourth woman in history to be nominated for the Academy Award.  The other three were Jane Campion, Lina Wertmuller and Sofia Coppola.  I think that the quote below tells us all we need to know about her opinion on women directing.

If there's specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can't change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies. It's irrelevant who or what directed a movie, the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don't. There should be more women directing; I think there's just not the awareness that it's really possible. It is.
Kathryn Bigelow

She spoke to one journalist at The Governors Ball, and said: "girls who dream of being directors should believe that anything they want to happen can happen"

The Hurt Locker is vintage Bigelow, gripping characters, riveting action and explosives.  Kathryn Bigelow proves that female directors can direct action to equal any male director. She has long been demonstrating this. 

This is her acceptance speech from the 82nd Academy Awards:

"This really is when ... there is no other way to describe this.   It's the moment of a lifetime.
First of all, this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful - my fellow nominees -such powerful film makers who have inspired me and I have admired for -- some of whom -- for decades.
Thank you to every member of the Academy.   This is again the moment of a lifetime.
I would not be standing here if it wasn't for Mark Bohl who risked his life for the words on the page and wrote such a courageous screenplay that I was fortunate enough to have a great cast bring that screenplay to life. Jeremy Renner. Anthony Mackey and Brian Garrity.
And I think the secret to directing is collaborating and I had truly an extraordinary group of collaborators in my crew:  Barry Akroyd and Kelly Juliason, and Bob Murawski, Chris Innis, Ray Beckett, Richard Stutzman.  And if I could also just thank my producing partners, Greg Shapiro and my wonderful agent Brian Suberal, and the people of Jordan who were so hospitable to us when we were shooting.
And I'd like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world and may they come home safe.
Thank you"

The Hurt Locker Trailer

I always want to make films. I think of it as a great opportunity to comment on the world in which we live. Perhaps just because I just came off The Hurt Locker and I'm thinking of the war and I think it's a deplorable situation. It's a great medium in which to speak about that. This is a war that cannot be won, why are we sending troops over there? Well, the only medium I have, the only opportunity I have, is to use film. There will always be issues I care about.
Kathryn Bigelow

Artist & Film Maker

Kathryn Bigelow's creative journey started in earnest in 1970 - she went to San Francisco Art Institute.  It says on the IMDB website that she was a very talented painter.  She graduated in 1972 as a Bachelor of Fine Arts and went on to be accepted into a scholarship program in New York where one of her professors was Susan Sontag. 

Whereas painting is a more rarefied art form, with a limited audience, I recognized film as this extraordinary social tool that could reach tremendous numbers of people.
Kathryn Bigelow
Bigelow then attended Colombia University where she earned her master's degree in film.  Her first short film, The Set-Up was a twenty minute deconstruction of violence in film. 

Her first feature length film came in 1982 and was an outlaw-biker movie The Loveless which starred Willem Dafoe. 

After this, came my favourite Kathryn Bigelow film, and the one that first brought her onto my 'must see film-maker' radar.  The film was Near Dark and Kathryn Bigelow co-wrote it.  It's a vampire film - and for my money it's also one of the best vampire films ever made. 

Near Dark Trailer

After Near Dark she made Blue Steel a cop-action thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis as a tough New York cop, fighting to clear her name.  Around this time she also wrote an episode of The Equalizer a P.I. Series starring Edward Woodward.  The episode was entitled 'Lady Cop'.

Blue Steel Trailer

After Blue Steel came one of my favourite action films.  Point Break - a rip-roaring, fast-paced bank-heist film about a group of dare-devil surfers who rob banks dressed as ex presidents.  An FBI undercover agent becomes one of them and his loyalties are tested to the limit.  The film starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.  At that time, people would say women can't direct action films.  I'd enjoy asking them if they thought Point Break was a good action film - which they invariably did and then I'd let them know who directed it! 

Point Break Trailer

After Point Break, she went back to TV, directing Wild Palms and then on to the science fiction feature film, Strange Days starring Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett.  After this came three episodes of the ground-breaking cop show Homicide: Life on the Street and the film The Weight of Water which is about a journalist investigating a murder from the past, starring Sean Penn and Catherine McCormack.

The new millenium dawned and in 2002 Bigelow created K19: The Widowmaker a film about the troubled crew of a Russian submarine, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, she also produced this film and after it produced and directed The Hurt Locker - the rest on that is history!

This year saw her at the helm of The Miraculous Year - an HBO TV pilot starring Susan Sarandon.  Currently Kathryn is working on a yet untitled international thriller - she'll be the producer and director of the project. 

I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about what my aptitude is, and I really think it's to explore and push the medium. It's not about breaking gender roles or genre traditions.
Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow is a hugely respected and much celebrated film-maker and desrevedly so, she's been a member of the jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990, a member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1998 and a member of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2003.  Long may she continue to break-ground and entertain us. 

Kathryn Bigelow on Directing

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