Barbara Kopple

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Barbara Kopple
Born (1946-07-30) July 30, 1946 (age 68)
New York City, New York

Barbara Kopple (born July 30, 1946) is an American film director known primarily for her documentary work.

Life and career[edit]

Barbara Kopple in conversation

She grew up in Scarsdale, New York, the daughter of a textile executive, and studied psychology at Northeastern University, after which she worked with the Maysles Brothers.

Kopple has won two Academy Awards, the first in 1976 for Harlan County, USA, about a Kentucky miners' strike, and the second in 1991 for American Dream, the story of the Hormel Foods strike in Austin, Minnesota in 1985-86. She has directed episodes of the television drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz, winning a Directors Guild of America award for the former. Kopple also directed A Conversation With Gregory Peck and Bearing Witness, as well as documentaries on Mike Tyson and Woody Allen. The latter film, Wild Man Blues, focuses on his Dixieland jazz tour and on Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.

Her first non-documentary feature film, Havoc, starred Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips as wealthy suburbanites who venture into East Los Angeles Latino gang territory, and was released straight to DVD in 2005. Kopple has recently ventured into advertising work that includes documentary-style commercials for Target Stores.

She was also among the 19 filmmakers who worked together anonymously (under the rubric Winterfilm Collective) to produce the film Winter Soldier, an anti-war documentary about the Winter Soldier Investigation. She has also done films for The Working Group, directing the 30-minute short documentary "Locked Out in America: Voices From Ravenswood" for the We Do the Work series. (We Do the Work aired in the mid-1990s on the PBS television series "P.O.V.", and Kopple's segment was based on the book Ravenswood: The Steelworkers' Victory and the Revival of American Labor.)

In the fall of 2006, she released a documentary, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, about the Dixie Chicks' George W. Bush-related controversy.

In 2012 Kopple released two new films. One is about Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, and the other is concerning the 150th Anniversary of The Nation magazine. The film on Hemingway, Running from Crazy, was shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

In 2014 the UK's Sight and Sound magazine published a "Greatest Documentaries of All Time" list, in which Kopple's film Harlan County, USA (1976) was ranked 24th, tied with 2 other movies.[1][2]

Kopple is a niece of the American playwright Murray Burnett.


  • 1972: Winter Soldier
  • 1976: Harlan County, USA
  • 1981: Keeping On
  • 1990: American Dream
  • 1992: Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy
  • 1993: Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson
  • 1994: Century of Women: Sexuality and Social Justice
  • 1994: Century of Women: Work and Family
  • 1997: Homicide: Life on the Street - The Documentary
  • 1997: Wild Man Blues
  • 1998: Homicide: Life on the Street - Pit Bull Sessions
  • 1999: A Conversation With Gregory Peck
  • 1999: Homicide: Life on the Street - Self Defense
  • 2000: My Generation
  • 2002: American Standoff
  • 2002: The Hamptons
  • 2004: Bearing Witness
  • 2004: Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight
  • 2004: WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
  • 2005: Havoc
  • 2006: Shut Up & Sing
  • 2010: 30 for 30: The House of Steinbrenner
  • 2011: Gunfight
  • 2013: Running From Crazy


External links[edit]