Perhaps no other director has made an impact on a global scale as the first woman to win the Academy Award, the Director’s Guild Award, the BAFTA, and the Critic’s Choice Award for directing as Kathryn Bigelow. As one of Hollywood’s most innovative filmmakers, Bigelow has distinguished herself not only as a pioneer of gender, but as evidenced by her latest film, Zero Dark Thirty, she has further cemented her stature as one of the world’s most fearless filmmakers. Bigelow’s groundbreaking and highly acclaimed body of work have indeed shattered previous notions of the “fairer gender” in both technique and the handling of subject matters in the art of filmmaking. In January of 2013, Bigelow was once again honored with nominations from the Producer’s Guild, the Director’s Guild, and the Academy Awards for Zero Dark Thirty.
Dubbed with the tagline, “The Greatest Manhunt in History,” Zero Dark Thirty chronicles the real life operation that led to the capture and end of Osama Bin Laden. Reuniting with writer Mark Boal, who wrote and co-produced The Hurt Locker, Bigelow and Boal spent years researching and interviewing elite members of the military and intelligence operatives responsible for accomplishing the decade-long mission. Shrouded in secrecy, this US government team worked together since 9/11 with the single, unwavering goal to find and eliminate “the world’s most dangerous man.”
The Hurt Locker, also produced by Bigelow and Boal, was honored by critics on over 250 top ten lists. It garnered numerous additional accolades and awards, including Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, a Best Picture win from the Producer’s Guild of America, and a Best Director win for Bigelow from the DGA. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards winning 7, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay.
In 1991, Bigelow directed the fan-favorite action thriller Point Break, which starred Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. Executive produced by James Cameron, Point Break explored the dangerous extremes of a psychological struggle between two young men.
On the release of K-19: The Widowmaker, The New York Times declared Bigelow “one of the most gifted…directors working in movies today.” Starring Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and Peter Saarsgard, the film tells the true story of a heroic Soviet naval crew who risked their lives to prevent a near nuclear disaster aboard their submarine. Critics praised Bigelow as “an expert technician who never steps wrong” (Roger Ebert).
In 1972, Bigelow earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the San Francisco Arts Institute. While enrolled at SFAI, she was accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study scholarship in New York City. Bigelow then 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 has also taught at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bigelow currently resides in Los Angeles.