“Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow’s path to stardom

"Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow spoke at the School of Media and Public Affairs on Thursday. Julie Bessler | Hatchet Phographer
“Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow spoke at the School of Media and Public Affairs on Thursday. Julie Bessler | Hatchet Phographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Maeve Tierney

Kathryn Bigelow has brought viewers into the male-dominated worlds of the military and the C.I.A.

But the Oscar-winner, who acclaimed films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker,” said in an hour-long interview at GW on Tuesday her gender has never kept her from pursuing a big story as she’s become one of the top female directors in the film industry.

She said in “Zero Dark Thirty,” which was up for five Academy Awards last year, she strove to answer the question: How did it take 10 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to find Osama Bin Laden? And she also wanted to illustrate the unusually large number of women on the team that helped find Bin Laden, and their personal struggles during the manhunt.

“I was shocked that I was shocked, but I found this incredibly important. I was asked by people when they saw the film if we changed the gender [of the main character], and I said ‘No, of course we didn’t change the gender.’ The quota of women involved in that hunt was impressive,” Bigelow said.

She got her start while studying art in New York City when she started experimenting with short films. As her films became longer and longer, she “unconsciously realized” that she was meant to be a director, she said.

Her artistic background has shaped her, she said, as she has remained proud of each film without giving up creative control to big-time Hollywood studios.

“What you give up are resources, but given the choice I would stick with independently-financed films because there is more honesty and rigor that comes with. You get complete creative control,” she said.

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