Kathryn Bigelow (Photo: Paola Kudacki)

Kathryn Bigelow (Photo: Paola Kudacki)

Kathryn Bigelow has not only been at the helm of some of the best and most important actions films of the past 20 years, but she’s also a film-maker who has made history. She is the only female director ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director, securing the gold for her work on The Hurt Locker and is only the fourth woman to be nominated for the honour. The lack of representation behind the lens and awards recognition for women in film is a disheartening and systematic problem, but conversations are happening in the media that will hopefully affect change in the industry. For the time being, Bigelow continues to defy gender restrictions and garner much deserved acclaim for her audacious work. Born in California, she entered the graduate film program at Columbia University where she studied theory and criticism under renowned cultural theorists such as Susan Sontag and Vito Acconci. Bigelow’s first short, The Set Up (1978), was a strong indication as to where her storytelling interests lie – the film depicted two men fighting while intellectuals deconstruct the images in voiceover. Her initial exploration of conflict and the profoundly brutal effect that it can have attracted the attention of Academy Award winning film-maker Milos Forman, director of One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who was teaching at Columbia at the time.
Kathryn Bigelow (Source: trustcollective.com)

Kathryn Bigelow (Source: trustcollective.com)

Bigelow’s list of films that have had the biggest influence on her and her career are hardly surprising; she references the complete works of Alfred Hitchcock, The Terminator (Directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron) and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. Bigelow has combined the suspense, heart-stopping action and beautiful scope that these aforementioned films have curated into her own work, most notably with Best Picture Winner and Best Picture Nominee The Hurt Locker (2009) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) respectively. Jeremy Renner, star of The Hurt Locker, remarked, “She’s a painter, is really what she is. She’s such a visual human being.” Renner’s observation shows that Bigelow’s fine art studies continue to pervade her work. The actor also expressed that being under her direction was no different than starring in a film with a man at the helm, “Gender had nothing to do with it. The girl was tougher than anyone on set.” Bigelow herself has stressed that she will not allow societal views and harmful gender stereotypes inhibit her, profoundly stating, “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.” Hear, hear Kathryn Bigelow. Hear, hear. Unmissable Picks: Near Dark (1987) Point Break (1991) Strange Days (1995) The Hurt Locker (2009) Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Detroit (2017) By Evie Brudenall
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