Kathryn Bigelow: Making Her Way to the Top

Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow (SoA ’81), winner of the Academy Award for Best Director! Bigelow is the first woman to receive the honor, one of only four female nominees ever.

Bigelow has swept most of the major awards this season for her Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker. Accolades include top honors from Directors Guild of America, British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) , Satellite Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award, Producers Guild of America, and many more.

So how did Bigelow make her way to the top?

TIME Magazine presented a brief sketch of Bigelow’s life work in the February 18th article “The Front Runner“:

She began her career with aspirations as a visual artist, and at 19, she came to New York to study at the Whitney Museum of American Art‘s independent-study program. During her time in NYC, she hung out with hip NY artists and supported herself fixing up loft spaces with Philip Glass!

TIME Magazine jumps from a description of her days as a bohemian artist in New York to her directorial endeavors in Hollywood, failing to mention Bigelow’s years of transition from visual artist to film-maker at Columbia University School of the Arts. Bigelow is a SoA ’81 graduate, and as she told NaRhee Ahn (SOA Film ’99) in an interview, “I transitioned from art to film while at Columbia, completing my first film, THE SET-UP, with voiceover commentary by cultural theorists Syslvere Lotringer and Marshall Blonsky.”

Bigelow didn’t fly from a scrappy NYC apartment to the Hollywood Hills on wings of gold. She worked hard, earned a graduate degree in film-making and followed her artistic vision with energy, daring and passion.

When Ahn asked her if she had any advice for young graduates of Columbia’s film program, Bigelow replied, “Never take no for an answer.”

For more information see the following:

The Hurt Locker trailer

The Front Runner (TIME)

Kathryn Bigelow Unlocks The Hurt Locker (Columbia University Entertainment)


Rosie duPont BC’10

ArtsLink Associate

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