1967-09-06

American feature film director, KIMBERLY PEIRCE, notable for her debut feature film, Boys Don’t Cry (1999) was born on this date. Her second feature, Stop-Loss, was released by Paramount in 2008.

While at Columbia working on an idea for her thesis film about a female soldier in drag during the American Civil War, Peirce read a Village Voice article about the life and death of Brandon Teena, a transgender man from Nebraska who was brutally raped and murdered when his gender history was discovered. Switching from her original thesis project, Peirce traveled to Falls City, Nebraska where she conducted research, interviewed a number of people from the town including Lana Tisdale (Brandon’s girlfriend) and Lana’s mother, and attended the murder trial of the two homicide suspects. The subsequent film short she made for her thesis in 1995 was nominated by Columbia faculty for a Princess Grace Award, and received an Astrea Production Grant.

After film producer Christine Vachon saw a version of the short, Vachon and Peirce began working on a feature film. In order to fund the writing and development of the feature, Peirce worked as a paralegal on the midnight shift, as a 35mm film projectionist, and received a New York Foundation for the Arts grant. With help from the Sundance Institute’s Filmmakers, Writers and Producers Labs in 1997, Peirce completed the feature film in 1999.

Upon its release, Boys Don’t Cry became one of the most acclaimed and talked about films of the year, opening at the Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals and earning many honors, including the Best Actress Oscar, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit award and many other awards for the film’s star, Hilary Swank. Chloe Sevigne was nominated for a Best-Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe and won the Independent Spirit Award and many other awards for her role as Lana Tisdale.

The film received the International Critics prize for Best Film at both the London and Stockholm Film Festivals, the Satyajit Ray Foundation Award for Best First Feature at the London Film Festival, and was named “Best American Feature,” by Janet Maslin.

For her part, Peirce won honors as Best Debut Director from the National Board of Review and Best New Filmmaker from the Boston Society of Film Critics. Peirce was also a director on the Lifeline series, The L Word.