A Los Angeles native who preferred European art cinema to Hollywood studio fare, writer-director Lisa Cholodenko made her mark on the independent film scene with her moody examination of sexuality, ambition, and heroin chic in [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]] (1998).
Raised in the San Fernando Valley, Cholodenko had no thoughts of becoming a filmmaker when she headed to college at San Francisco State. She had changed her mind, however, by her mid-twenties. After working as an assistant editor on [[Feature~V6891~Boyz 'N the Hood~boyznthehood]] (1991) and [[Feature~V52047~Used People~usedpeople]] (1992), Cholodenko enrolled in Columbia University's graduate film program in 1992. Mentored by [[Performer~P90166~Milos Forman~milosforman]], Cholodenko made two highly regarded short films, Souvenir and Dinner Party. After earning her M.F.A., Cholodenko served as an assistant editor on [[Performer~P115102~Gus Van Sant~gusvansant]]'s [[Feature~V134789~To Die For~todiefor]] (1995) while working on the screenplay for her first feature, [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]].
Taking off from Cholodenko's firsthand observations of the 1990s New York art world and her interest in such photographers as Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]] centered on a reclusive photographer-turned-junkie and the aspiring young art magazine editor who becomes infatuated with her. Starring [[Performer~P65029~Ally Sheedy~allysheedy]] in a career-resurrecting performance as the doomed artist, [[Performer~P235577~Radha Mitchell~radhamitchell]] as her naively ambitious admirer, and [[Performer~P13504~Patricia Clarkson~patriciaclarkson]] as [[Performer~P65029~Sheedy~allysheedy]]'s Teutonic lover, [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]] earned raves for the performances and a Sundance Film Festival prize for Cholodenko's astute, complex screenplay. Despite [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]]'s success, Cholodenko's second feature, [[Feature~V264142~Laurel Canyon~laurelcanyon]] (2002), languished in development hell for several years. Her interest in the darker reaches of character psychology, however, served Cholodenko well as a TV director, helming episodes of NBC's lauded Homicide: Life on the Street before it went off the air in 1999 and HBO's blackly comic family drama [[Feature~V246267~Six Feet Under~sixfeetunder[tvseries]]] in 2001. Cholodenko finally got to return to features when one of [[Feature~V160455~High Art~highart]]'s producers plucked [[Feature~V264142~Laurel Canyon~laurelcanyon]] out of turnaround purgatory. Focusing on the temptations of Southern California, [[Feature~V264142~Laurel Canyon~laurelcanyon]] starred [[Performer~P3538~Christian Bale~christianbale]] and [[Performer~P4911~Kate Beckinsale~katebeckinsale]] as an uptight young couple seduced off the straight and narrow by [[Performer~P3538~Bale~christianbale]]'s hedonistic record producer mother [[Performer~P47305~Frances McDormand~francesmcdormand]]. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi