Director Kathryn Bigelow's small but impressive body of work has consistently dealt with issues of violence and tension. Originally trained as a painter, she attended the San Francisco Art Institute and was invited to study at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She worked as an assistant to the conceptual artist [[Performer~P165~Vito Acconci~vitoacconci]] and later joined a British collective called Art and Language. She did graduate work at Colombia, where she made her first short film, The Set-Up, a deconstruction of film violence, and Bigelow returned to this central theme throughout her unique career in the action genre. Her first feature, [[Feature~V30367~The Loveless~theloveless]], was a biker gang movie featuring the acting debut of [[Performer~P16547~Willem Dafoe~willemdafoe]]. Teaming up with her frequent writing partner [[Performer~P107749~Eric Red~ericred]], she made the vampire-Western [[Feature~V34703~Near Dark~neardark]] and the crime drama [[Feature~V6292~Blue Steel~bluesteel]]. After the mild success of [[Feature~V38541~Point Break~pointbreak]], she gained some attention in 1995 for [[Feature~V135023~Strange Days~strangedays]], which she based on a story by her then-husband, [[Feature~V158894~Titanic~titanic]]-director [[Performer~P10397~James Cameron~jamescameron]]. After a brief stint in television ([[Feature~V54568~Wild Palms~wildpalms]], [[Feature~V284356~Homicide: Life on the Street~homicide:lifeonthestreet[tvseries]]]), she took a five-year break from Hollywood, not returning until 2000 to direct [[Feature~V220966~The Weight of Water~theweightofwater]] and [[Feature~V263138~K-19: The Widowmaker~k19:thewidowmaker]] (2002).
After a six-year layoff, Bigelow returned with the Iraq War thriller/character study The Hurt Locker, a project that earned her the most overwhelmingly positive notices of her career, as well as an unprecedented win from the Directors Guild for Best Director -- becoming the first woman to ever capture that prize. She also received a nominations from The Golden Globes, and took home no less than two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director (another prize that had never before gone to a woman), beating out ex-husband James Cameron, who was nominated for his CG juggernaut Avatar. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi