Bigelow at the 82nd Academy Awards, 2010
|Born||Kathryn Ann Bigelow
November 27, 1951
San Carlos, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, screenwriter, television director|
|Notable work(s)||The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Near Dark, Strange Days, Point Break|
|Spouse(s)||James Cameron (1989–1991)|
Her films include the vampire Western horror film Near Dark (1987), the action crime film Point Break (1991), the controversial science fiction action thriller Strange Days (1995), the mystery thriller The Weight of Water (2000), the submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), the war film The Hurt Locker (2008), the action thriller war film Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and the short film Last Days of Ivory (2014). The Hurt Locker won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture, won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, and was nominated for the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Drama.
With The Hurt Locker, Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Director. She also became the first woman to win the Saturn Award for Best Director in 1995 for Strange Days.
Early life and education
Bigelow was born in San Carlos, California, the only child of Gertrude Kathryn (née Larson; 1917–1994), a librarian, and Ronald Elliot Bigelow (1915–1992), a paint factory manager. Her mother was of Norwegian descent. Bigelow's early creative endeavors were as a student of painting. She enrolled at San Francisco Art Institute in the fall of 1970 and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in December 1972. While enrolled at SFAI, she was accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program in New York City. Bigelow's early work benefited from her apprenticeships with Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, and Lawrence Weiner. Also in her early days in Manhattan, Bigelow teamed up with Philip Glass on a real-estate venture in which the pair personally renovated distressed apartments downtown then sold them for a profit.
Bigelow entered the graduate film program at Columbia University, where she studied theory and criticism and earned her master's degree. Her professors included Vito Acconci, Sylvère Lotringer and Susan Sontag, and she worked with the Art & Language collective and noted conceptualist Lawrence Weiner. She also taught at the California Institute of the Arts. While working with Art and Language, Bigelow began a short film, The Set-Up (1978), which found favor with director Miloš Forman, then teaching at Columbia University, and which Bigelow later submitted as part of her MFA at Columbia.
|“||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 in 1990
Bigelow's short "The Set-Up," is a 20-minute deconstruction of violence in film. The film portrays "two men fighting each other as the semioticians Sylvère Lotringer and Marshall Blonsky deconstruct the images in voice-over." Bigelow asked her actors to actually beat and bludgeon each other throughout the film's all-night shoot. Her first full-length feature was The Loveless (1982), a biker film which she co-directed with Monty Montgomery and featured Willem Dafoe in his first starring role. Next, she directed Near Dark (1987), which she co-scripted with Eric Red. In the same year, she directed a music video for the New Order song "Touched by the Hand of God"; the video is a spoof of glam metal imagery.
Bigelow's subsequent trilogy of action films — Blue Steel, Point Break, and Strange Days — merged her philosophically minded manipulation of pace with the market demands of mainstream film-making. In the process, Bigelow became recognizable as both a Hollywood brand and an auteur. All three films rethink the conventions of action cinema while exploring gendered and racial politics.
Bigelow followed Blue Steel with Point Break (1991), which starred Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent who poses as a surfer to catch the "Ex-Presidents", a team of surfing armed robbers led by Patrick Swayze who wear Reagan, Nixon, LBJ and Jimmy Carter masks when they hold up banks. Point Break (1991) was Kathryn Bigelow's most profitable 'studio' film, taking approximately $80 million at the global box-office during the year of its release, and yet it remains one of her least well-received films, both in terms of commercial reviews and academic analysis. This is perhaps due to the fact that it most successfully conforms to its action genre and abandons much of the stylistic substance and subtext of Bigelow's other work.
In 1993, she directed an episode of the TV series Wild Palms.
|“||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 in 2009
Bigelow's 1995 film Strange Days was written and produced by her ex-husband James Cameron. Despite some positive reviews, the film was a commercial failure. Furthermore, many attributed the creative vision to James Cameron, diminishing Bigelow's perceived influence on the film.
She directed episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street in 1997 and 1998.
In 2002 she directed K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, about a group of men aboard the Soviet Union's first nuclear-powered submarine. The film fared poorly at the box office and was received with mixed reactions by critics, gaining an aggregate score of 58 on Metacritic.
Bigelow next directed The Hurt Locker, which was first shown at the Venice Film Festival in September 2008, was the Closing Night selection for Maryland Film Festival in May 2009, and theatrically released in the US in June 2009. It qualified for the 2010 Oscars as it did not premiere in an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles until mid-2009. Set in post-invasion Iraq, the film received "universal acclaim" (according to Metacritic) and a 97% "fresh" rating from the critics aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes. The film stars Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie, with cameos by Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes. She won the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (becoming the first woman to win the award) and also received a Golden Globe nomination for her direction. In 2010, she won the award for Best Director and The Hurt Locker won Best Picture at the 63rd British Academy Film Awards. She became the first woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. She was the fourth woman in history to be nominated for the honor, and only the second American woman.
Bigelow's next film was Zero Dark Thirty, a dramatization of American efforts to find Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty was acclaimed by film critics but it has also attracted controversy and strong criticism for its allegedly pro-torture stance. Bigelow won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director for the film, making her the first woman to win the award twice. She had already won previously for directing The Hurt Locker. She also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Director for Zero Dark Thirty, making her the first woman to win that award.
In 2014 Bigelow announced plans to direct two movies: an adaptation of Anand Giridharadas's non-fiction book The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas starring Tom Hardy and a feature based on the life of Bowe Bergdahl written by her frequent collaborator Mark Boal.
In the early 1980s, Bigelow modeled for a Gap advertisement. Her acting credits include Lizzie Borden's 1983 film Born in Flames as a feminist newspaper editor, and as the leader of a cowgirl gang in the 1988 music video of Martini Ranch's "Reach", which was directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron.
- Wild Palms: "Rising Sons" (1993) miniseries
- Homicide: Life on the Street: "Fallen Heroes" Parts 1 & 2 (1998)
- Homicide: Life on the Street: "Lines of Fire" (1999)
- Karen Sisco: "He Was a Friend of Mine" (2004)
- "Bigelow, Kathryn". Current Biography Yearbook 2010. Ipswich, MA: H.W. Wilson. 2010. pp. 38–42. ISBN 9780824211134.
- "'Hurt Locker' wins best picture, director". Today.msnbc.msn.com. March 8, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- "First woman to win top Guild's award". Gulf Times. January 31, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- Reuters (February 21, 2010). "Kathryn Bigelow wins best director BAFTA for 'Hurt Locker' over James Cameron's 'Avatar'". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- Roberts, Soraya (January 16, 2010). "Critic's Choice Awards 2010: Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep kiss; Kathryn Bigelow is Best Director". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
- Stone, Oliver (April 29, 2010), "Kathryn Bigelow", TIME, The 2010 TIME 100, retrieved May 7, 2010
- "Kathryn Bigelow Biography". yahoo.com. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
- "Kathryn Bigelow: Road Warrior" – an interview published June 2009 in Newsweek magazine
- Benson-Allott, Caetlin. "Undoing Violence: Politics, Genre, and Duration in Kathryn Bigelow's Cinema" (preview/paywall), Film Quarterly 64.2 (Winter 2010), pp. 33–43. University of California Press; link via JSTOR. "Abstract: Kathryn Bigelow's eight feature films all seek a balance between progressive representations of gender and race and the demands of commercial filmmaking. Close attention to the filmmaker's experiments with duration and camera technology reveals her interest in reworking Hollywood conventions to critique conventionally masculinist genres."
- Filkins, Dexter (December 17, 2012). "Bin Laden, The Movie". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- Dargis, Manohla, "Action!", New York Times, June 18, 2009. Access date: June 27, 2009.
- Rapold, Nicolas, "Interview: Kathryn Bigelow Goes Where the Action Is", Village Voice, June 23, 2009. Access date: June 27, 2009.
- "Kathryn Bigelow – Filmmaking at the Dark Edge of Exhilaration", Harvard Film Archive, July 1, 2009. Access date: December 17, 2009.
- Perry, Michelle P., "Kathryn Bigelow discusses role of 'seductive violence' in her films", The Tech (MIT), March 16, 1990. An interview with the star (Jamie Lee Curtis) and writer-director (Bigelow) of Blue Steel.
- Jermyn, Deborah, and Sean Redmond. "Chapter Six – All That Is Male Melts into Air: Bigelow on the Edge of Point Break." The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor. London: Wallflower, 2003. 106–7. Print.
- The Hurt Locker at Metacritic
- "The Hurt Locker (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. December 15, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- Roberts, Soraya (February 22, 2010). "Prince William becomes President at 2010 BAFTA awards; Kathryn Bigelow wins best director". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
- Weaver, Matthew (March 8, 2010). "Kathryn Bigelow makes history as first woman to win best director Oscar". The Guardian (London). Retrieved March 8, 2010.
- "Zero Dark Thirty". Metacritic. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Child, Ben (January 9, 2013). "Zero Dark Thirty premiere sparks anti-torture protest". The Guardian (London). Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Polo, Susana, "Kathryn Bigelow Wins New York Film Critics Circle Award Twice; Makes History", The Mary Sue, December 4, 2012.
- "NBR Awards name 'Zero Dark Thirty' best film", boston.com, 2012/12/05.
- Ford, Rebecca (2014-05-14). "Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hardy Tackling Adaptation of 'True American' Book". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- Fleming Jr, Mike. "Todd Field, Searchlight Jump Into Bowe Bergdahl Fray After ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Stake Out Pic". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- Feeney, Nolan (December 4, 2014). "Premiere: Watch Kathryn Bigelow’s Short Film About Elephant Poaching, Last Days". Time. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- Jagernauth, Kevin (December 5, 2014). "Watch: Kathryn Bigelow's PSA 'Last Days' Explores The High Cost Of Elephant Poaching". Indiewire. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kathryn Bigelow.|
- Kathryn Bigelow at the Internet Movie Database
- June 2009 Interview with The A.V. Club
- Q&A with Kathryn Bigelow in Men's Journal
- Kathryn Bigelow on Rotten Tomatoes
- Literature on Kathryn Bigelow
- Davidson, Amy, "The Oscar for Torture?", blog, The New Yorker, January 2013. "The problems people have with Zero Dark Thirty are about directorial choices, and it is more than reasonable that Kathryn Bigelow be judged on them."
- Mayer, Jane, "Zero Conscience in Zero Dark Thirty", blog, The New Yorker, December 2012.
- Denby, David, "Bigelow’s Fact and Fiction", review, The New Yorker, December 2012.
- Brockes, Emma, "Kathryn Bigelow: under fire", The Guardian (London), January 11, 2013. "[S]ome say her new thriller, Zero Dark Thirty ... endorses torture".
- Child, Ben, "Zero Dark Thirty premiere sparks anti-torture protest", The Guardian (London), January 9, 2013. "Hooded protesters target Washington DC premiere .... Bigelow said that [ZDT] had started a 'remarkable national conversation'."
- The films of Kathryn Bigelow, Hell Is For Hyphenates, December 31, 2013