Kimberly Peirce

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Kimberly Peirce
Peirce interviewed in 2013
Kimberly Ane Peirce

(1967-09-08) September 8, 1967 (age 56)
EducationUniversity of Chicago (BA)
Columbia University (MFA)
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
Years active1994–present
(m. 2008)

Kimberly Ane Peirce[2] (born September 8, 1967) is an American filmmaker, best known for her debut feature film, Boys Don't Cry (1999), which won Hilary Swank her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Peirce's second feature, Stop-Loss, was released by Paramount Pictures in 2008. Her third film Carrie was released on October 18, 2013. In addition to directing and writing, she is a governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and a National Board member of the Directors Guild of America.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Peirce was born on September 8, 1967, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Sherry and Robert A. Peirce (originally Materazzi), who owned a construction company.[2] When Peirce was three, she and her family moved to New York City, and at age eleven, they moved to Miami, Florida, where she eventually graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School.[5]

While attending the University of Chicago, Peirce moved to Kobe, Japan for two years to work as a photographer and teach English.[6] She then moved to New York City to work as a photography intern for Time magazine under photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt. She returned to the University of Chicago to graduate with a degree in English and Japanese Literature.[7] Peirce then enrolled at Columbia University to pursue an MFA in film.[8] While at Columbia, Peirce completed an experimental short film called The Last Good Breath, where two star-crossed lovers are caught amidst a world war in which one lover always lives and the other always dies. The short screened as part of the Leopards of Tomorrow program at the Locarno International Film Festival.[9]


Boys Don't Cry[edit]

While at Columbia working on an idea for her thesis film about a female soldier in drag during the American Civil War,[10] Peirce read a Village Voice article[11] about the life and death of Brandon Teena, a transgender man from Nebraska who was brutally raped and murdered when his gender history was discovered. Switching from her original thesis project, Peirce traveled to Falls City, Nebraska, where she conducted research, interviewed a number of people from the town, including Lana Tisdale (Brandon's girlfriend) and Lana's mother, and attended the murder trial of the two homicide suspects. The subsequent short film she made for her thesis in 1995 was nominated by Columbia faculty for a Princess Grace Award, and received an Astrea Production Grant.[8]

After film producer Christine Vachon saw a version of the short, Vachon and Peirce began working on a feature film. In order to fund the writing and development of the feature, Peirce worked as a paralegal on the midnight shift, as a 35mm film projectionist and received a New York Foundation for the Arts grant.[12] With help from the Sundance Institute's Filmmakers, Writers and Producers Labs in 1997, Peirce completed the feature film in 1999. Peirce said, “To make a movie like Boys, I had to be classically trained in film, but I also had to be schooled in terms of gender and sexual identity.”[13]

Upon its release, Boys Don't Cry became one of the most acclaimed and talked about films of the year, opening at the Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals and earning many honors, including the Best Actress Oscar, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit award and many other awards for the film's star, Hilary Swank. Chloë Sevigny was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, a Golden Globe and won the Independent Spirit Award, among many other awards for her role as Lana Tisdale.

The film received the International Critics prize for Best Film at both the London and Stockholm Film Festivals, the Satyajit Ray Foundation Award for Best First Feature at the London Film Festival, and was named "Best American Feature," by Janet Maslin. Peirce won honors as Best Debut Director from the National Board of Review and Best New Filmmaker from the Boston Society of Film Critics.[14][15]


In 2005, inspired by the real-life stories of American soldiers, including her own brother, fighting in Iraq and coming home, Peirce began work on Stop-Loss. Peirce traveled the country interviewing soldiers about their experiences and worked with novelist and screenwriter Mark Richard to turn the research into a screenplay.[16]

Released in 2008, Stop-Loss received positive reviews from critics. Peirce was honored with the Hamilton Behind the Camera True-Grit Directing Award as well as the Andrew Sarris Directing Awards for the film.[17][18] In association with the film, Peirce created a website called SoundOff and gave soldiers and their families cameras to record and share their stories and opinions. Shortly after the film's release, Peirce spoke before the National Press Club and members of Congress on behalf of Soldiers and the Stop-Loss Compensation Act, which financially compensated soldiers for multiple tours of duty served because of the stop-loss policy.[19] The measure subsequently passed.[20]

Much of the inspiration for her two films was said to come from her love of The Godfather:

It showed me that I can take that love of the gangster movie and I can screen it through a family drama. In both my movies family is really important, violence is really important. I'm really interested in the psychological and the authentic portrayal of violence—particularly violence that comes out of emotions. Before The Godfather, I don't know that you could have such a violent psychological film that was that broadly entertaining.[21]


Peirce directed a remake of the 1976 horror film Carrie, which was released on October 18, 2013. An adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name, it starred Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role, with Julianne Moore and Ansel Elgort in supporting roles.

The film won the 2014 People's Choice Award for Favorite Horror Movie.[22] It grossed at $35,266,619 in the US and Canada and at $84,790,678 worldwide. [23]


Kimberly Peirce has directed episodes of John Ridley's American Crime, AMC's Halt and Catch Fire and Turn, WGN's Manhattan, Bill Broyle's A&E History Channel's Six, Joey Soloway's I Love Dick, Justin Simien's Dear White People,Starz' P-Valley, Game of Silence, Halt and Catch Fire, and Kidding.

Other projects[edit]

On February 16, 2011, it was announced that Peirce would direct the crime thriller The Knife,[24] about two men from opposite sides of the law who must overcome their mistrust of one another and risk their lives in order to infiltrate the organization of a ruthless gang leader threatening to spread armed violence across Los Angeles and the urban centers of America.[25] Peirce was also in negotiations to direct and executive-produce The Enclave, a limited series for USA Network written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men).[26]

Peirce co-wrote the script for Silent Star, a murder mystery about the 1922 death of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor and the scandals that nearly destroyed the film industry. However, the project stalled.[16]

Upcoming Peirce is set to direct new amazon movie "This is Jane." The storyline being about an activist in Chicago who is unsatisfied with the state of health services available in the US during the 1960s who forms a group that provides education and counseling for women seeking abortions.[27]


Peirce is a founding member of ReFrame, an industry-wide effort to end discrimination against women and people of color in Hollywood as well as the head of the Diversity Committee for Directors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She gave the 2014 Yale Transgender Week keynote, the 2015 Outfest keynote, and the 2016 AFI Keynotes, and spoke at the 2017 Women's March in Park City. She received the GLAAD Media, Lambda Legal Defense, People for the American Way, Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the 2013 OUTFEST Career Achievement Awards. In 2018, she was honored with a Women in Film award for her activism.

Personal life[edit]

Peirce is Jewish and genderqueer.[28] In 2008, she married Evren Savci,[1] who is a queer feminist and Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University.[29]


Year Title Director Writer Notes
1994 The Last Good Breath Yes Yes Short film
1999 Boys Don't Cry Yes Yes
2008 Stop-Loss Yes Yes
2013 Carrie Yes No


  • This Film Is Not Yet Rated – Peirce talks about the trouble Boys Don't Cry had with the MPAA, particularly the censoring of the sex scenes. Peirce was frustrated over the fact that the MPAA wanted the sex scene between Brandon and Lana removed but were satisfied with the overall brutality and violence in the murder scene.[30]
  • Raging Bull – 30th Anniversary Release, Special Features[31]
  • Chinatown – Centennial Collection DVD, Special Features[32]
  • The Godfather – The Coppola Restoration, Special Features, "The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't"[33]
  • Queer for Fear – 2022 television mini-series includes interviews with Peirce[34][35]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Evren Savci". Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Robert Peirce Obituary - Lake Worth, FL - The Palm Beach Post". The Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "Leaders". Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "Board of Governors". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. September 1, 2014. Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Miami Sunset Senior High School Profile". December 9, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  6. ^ "index magazine interview". Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  7. ^ "Chicago Life". Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Stop-Loss press notes, Paramount Pictures
  9. ^ "filmbug". filmbug. July 12, 2008. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  10. ^ "Kimberly Peirce / The Kimberly Peirce Story | MovieMaker Magazine". November 15, 1999. Archived from the original on June 18, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  11. ^ "Arts". March 9, 2000. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  12. ^ Hugh Hart (June 28, 2009). " 'Reel Truth' Gets to the Bottom of Indies ". Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  13. ^ "'Boys Don't Cry' director on how UChicago shaped her career | University of Chicago News". November 19, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2024.
  14. ^ Jimen, Oscar S. (June 7, 2018). "National Board of Review 1999". freehostia. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Hoffs, Benjamin (December 12, 1999). "BSFC Winners 1999". Boston Film Critics. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Valby, Karen (March 28, 2008). "'War and Peirce' by Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly, March 28, 2008". Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  17. ^ a b The 2008 Behind the Camera Awards Archived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b N'neka Hite (April 29, 2008). "Kimberly Peirce set for Sarris Award". Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  19. ^ "Director campaigns for stop-loss payments – Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq". Air Force Times. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  20. ^ Williams, Tom (July 10, 2008). "Stop-Loss Compensation Act". Getty Images. Archived from the original on March 20, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  21. ^ Peirce, Kimberly. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p105. Print.
  22. ^ "People's Choice Awards 2014: List of winners". Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  23. ^ Peirce, Kimberly (October 18, 2013), Carrie (Drama, Horror, Thriller), Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Screen Gems, Misher Films, retrieved March 11, 2024
  24. ^ "'Inside Man' by Guy Lawson". Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  25. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 16, 2011). "Universal Sets Kim Peirce For Los Angeles Gang Informant Drama 'The Knife'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on October 31, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  26. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 2, 2011). "USA Unveils Development Slate Of 7 Dramas & 5 Comedies, Eyes Daily Talk Show". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  27. ^ This Is Jane - Plot - IMDb, retrieved March 11, 2024
  28. ^ Dry, Jude (December 12, 2019). "As 'Boys Don't Cry' Joins National Film Registry, Kimberly Peirce Addresses Its Complicated History". IndieWire. Archived from the original on June 13, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  29. ^ "Evren Savci | Yale University -". Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  30. ^ Dick, Kirby (director). (2006). This Film Is Not Yet Rated. Motion Picture (DVD). IFC Films
  31. ^ Maltin, Leonard (January 12, 2011). "dvd review: STILL RAGING". IndieWire. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  32. ^ "Chinatown (Centennial Collection) Exclusive – Chinatown (Centennial Collection) Movie Exclusive – Exclusive for Chinatown (Centennial Collection) – Exclusive DVD Clip: The Film". October 6, 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  33. ^ "The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration – Bonus Material". September 23, 2008. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  34. ^ Dry, Jude (October 5, 2022). "Shudder's Gay Horror Series 'Queer for Fear' Proves We've Been Here All Along". IndieWire. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  35. ^ "Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror". 2022. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  36. ^ "Young Hollywood Award". IMDb. Archived from the original on January 11, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  37. ^ "Award listings". Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  38. ^ "The Satyajit Ray Foundation – Previous winners". Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  39. ^ a b c "The Kimberly Peirce Picture Pages". Retrieved December 18, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ "Movie Archive – Boys Don't Cry". Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  41. ^ "Top Story". Gay Today. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  42. ^ Chow, Andrew R. (December 11, 2019). "See the 25 New Additions to the National Film Registry, From Purple Rain to Clerks". Time. New York, NY. Archived from the original on October 26, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2019.

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