Award-winning filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, director of the Oscar-winning film 'Boys Don't Cry,' to speak at Fairfield University "Reel Women" event



Image: Kimberly PeirceFilmmaker Kimberly Peirce, who directed Hillary Swank's Oscar-winning turn in "Boys Don't Cry" and the 2008 feature film, "Stop Loss," will speak at a Fairfield University "Reel Women" event, on Monday, Nov. 8 at 5:15 p.m. Peirce, who has won an array of awards from film critics' associations, will talk about the challenges and rewards of working in film.

Open to the public, the event will be held in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna Nyselius Library, on the Fairfield campus. Admission is free.

"Reel Women" is a faculty-student group that was launched in the spring of last year. Started by women faculty in the Program in New Media, Film, Television and Radio, "Reel Women" engages staff members and students from a variety of disciplines in examining films by, for, and about women as well as in the creation and critique of media with an eye toward gender issues.

"We see this event as an opportunity for students to understand film better as a narrative art that opens viewers to experiences and worldviews different from their own," said Elizabeth Haas, Ph.D., a visiting professor in the New Media Program and "Reel Women" member. "It will also undoubtedly be a chance for students to gain insight into the art of filmmaking from a screenwriter-director as successful, topical, yet fiercely original as Ms. Peirce."

During her day-long visit to the Fairfield campus, Peirce, a Columbia University film program graduate, will visit a "Beginning Screenwriting" class taught by Dr. Haas. Directing students taught by Rev. James Mayzik, S.J., director of the Media Center, will also attend. Peirce will have lunch with students in the new Creative Life living and learning community, a unique opportunity for them to talk with an individual who has carved out a fulfilling life's path in a challenging industry.

After a screening of "Boys Don't Cry" on Monday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. in the Multimedia Room, Pierce will give a brief talk about the film and then take questions from the audience. "Boys Don't Cry" is a groundbreaking work of terrible beauty, according to Dr. Haas. Based on a true story, the film made a star out of Hilary Swank who played Brandon, a real-life woman originally named Teena Brandon passing as a man in a small, unforgiving Nebraska town. Brandon's 'social transgression' exacts the highest price. "As art, 'Boys Don't Cry,' is defined by unforgettable imagery and breathtaking cinematic style," said Dr. Haas. "As social commentary, it is profoundly moving, deeply humane."

The film launched Peirce's career. "I had given everything to that movie," Peirce told The New York Times. "I was exhausted, and I got offered millions of dollars, many different movies. But it's like starting to run before you're ready to run. You're still the same. You're looking for emotional truth in your directing, but you're dealing with 20 times more people, 20 times more money. People are looking at every stage of your process. How did I make 'Boys'? Well, I picked up a camera and just went and did it."

For that film Peirce received the Boston Film Critic's Award for Best New Filmmaker, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Director and the National Board of Review's Outstanding Directorial Debut Award. Peirce also won several other writing and directing awards for the film, which also earned Chloe Sevigny an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

On Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. in the Multimedia Room, there will be a campus screening of "Stop Loss," a 'new' type of war film inspired by the real-life experiences of soldiers repeatedly called for repeat tours of duty - a process that gives the film its title. Starring Ryan Phillippe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the story was inspired by the real videos and images made by American soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Peirce was in part inspired to make the film by her younger brother's service in Iraq.

The event is funded by the Humanities Institute, Creative Life Residential Community, Marketing & Communications, Alliance, Student Diversity Programs, New Student Programs, Student Activities, New Media Program, Women's Studies, and the English Department.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 26, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 89