|Born||Sarah Marshall Kernochan
December 30, 1947
New York City
|Occupation||Documentarian, film director, screenwriter, producer, singer-songwriter|
|Years active||Since 1972|
|Spouse(s)||James Lapine (1 child)|
Life and career
Kernochan was born in New York City, the daughter of Adelaide (Chatfield-Taylor), an international organization consultant, and John Marshall Kernochan, a law professor. Her maternal grandfather was Wayne Chatfield-Taylor, Under Secretary of Commerce and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After graduating in 1965 from Rosemary Hall (now Choate Rosemary Hall), where Kernochan was a classmate of Glenn Close, and in 1968 from Sarah Lawrence College, she worked as a ghostwriter for The Village Voice for about a year. After quitting that job, she became interested in documentary filmmaking and soon gained national prominence in the United States as co-director and co-producer with Howard Smith of the 1972 film Marjoe (about evangelist Marjoe Gortner), which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.
Kernochan's first screen credit as a screenwriter came with the 1986 film 9½ Weeks. She followed that film with the script for Dancers (1987), starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and directed by Herbert Ross, which chronicled the backstage drama of a ballet company (played by American Ballet Theatre dancers) and their director during the staging of the ballet Giselle.
- I think people know that there's no point in calling me in if you want the other kind of women characters: a featureless "help me" character, or the saint, the whore — you know, any of the archetypes. I don't think all women are powerful, intelligent, any of those things. I just require that female characters be very real, that they have all the dimensions that the male characters do.
Since then, she has been primarily a screenwriter for such films as Dancers (1987); Impromptu (1991), the debut film directed by her husband James Lapine with a script she characterized as "maybe the best thing that I will ever do"; Sommersby (1993); wrote and directed The Hairy Bird (1998); co-wrote the story for What Lies Beneath (2000); and directed Thoth (2002) and wrote Learning to Drive (2014).
In June 2011, Kernochan released her first novel in over 35 years entitled Jane Was Here (ISBN 0980037727). A mysterious young woman, calling herself Jane, arrives in the small rundown community of Graynier, Massachusetts. She can point out the house where she grew up, though she has never been to Graynier in her life. Jane carries with her the fragmentary memory of her former life, and refuses to adjust to her new identity. Thus begins Jane's mission, to retrieve the puzzle pieces of a former life, groping her way through the past and the present simultaneously.
In August 2013, her feature script Learning to Drive, based on a New Yorker story by Katha Pollitt, went before cameras. The film, starring Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson, will be released in the US on August 21, 2015.
Kernochan is married to American stage director James Lapine. The couple's daughter is food writer, Phoebe Lapine.
- Rosemary Hall Alumnae Award from the Choate Rosemary Hall website
- Biography from Allmovie
- Girls school rules, a May 17, 2000 article from Salon.com
- Scott, A.O. "All I Wanna Do". New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2011.