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Lisa Cholodenko

Lisa Cholodenko

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Also Known As: Elizabeth Cholodenko Died:
Born: June 5, 1964 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, assistant editor, production assistant, assistant director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Writer and director Lisa Cholodenko had the innate talent to draw out deft and touching performances from her actors, whether it was as a drug-addicted photographer in an explosive relationship with a journalist or a lesbian couple dealing with a sperm donor who has suddenly come into their children's lives. Cholodenko's body of work often featured a strong female lead, from Ally Sheedy's riveting portrayal of a heroin junkie in "High Art" (1998) to Annette Bening playing a mother of two confronted with her family's complicated history in "The Kids Are All Right" (2010). Steering clear of sappy and apologetic Hollywood endings, Cholodenko never played it safe when it came to telling stories of flawed, hilarious, and affecting characters whose lives mirrored those of her audience, and in doing so, was regarded as one of the most exciting and poignant filmmakers of her time.Lisa Cholodenko was born in Los Angeles on June 5, 1964. She began her filmmaking career as a production assistant, working with John Singleton in his urban drama "Boyz n the Hood" (1991), which led to assistant editor positions for the features "The Lawnmower Man" (1992) and "Used People" (1992). Cholodenko earned her MFA at...

Writer and director Lisa Cholodenko had the innate talent to draw out deft and touching performances from her actors, whether it was as a drug-addicted photographer in an explosive relationship with a journalist or a lesbian couple dealing with a sperm donor who has suddenly come into their children's lives. Cholodenko's body of work often featured a strong female lead, from Ally Sheedy's riveting portrayal of a heroin junkie in "High Art" (1998) to Annette Bening playing a mother of two confronted with her family's complicated history in "The Kids Are All Right" (2010). Steering clear of sappy and apologetic Hollywood endings, Cholodenko never played it safe when it came to telling stories of flawed, hilarious, and affecting characters whose lives mirrored those of her audience, and in doing so, was regarded as one of the most exciting and poignant filmmakers of her time.

Lisa Cholodenko was born in Los Angeles on June 5, 1964. She began her filmmaking career as a production assistant, working with John Singleton in his urban drama "Boyz n the Hood" (1991), which led to assistant editor positions for the features "The Lawnmower Man" (1992) and "Used People" (1992). Cholodenko earned her MFA at Columbia University Film School in New York, where she met Milos Forman, the influential director of films such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "The People vs. Larry Flynt" (1996). Forman mentored Cholodenko while she wrote, produced and directed two short films that dealt with female sexuality, "Souvenir" (1994) and "Dinner Party" (1997). The year following the release of "Dinner Party," Cholodenko wrote and directed her first full-length feature, "High Art." The film followed the passionate and exploitative relationship between an ambitious magazine intern (Radha Mitchell) and a heroin-addicted photographer (Ally Sheedy). Critics raved about Cholodenko's feature film debut, honoring her with multiple awards on the festival circuit, including a screenwriting award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and multiple nominations at the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards.

While "High Art" turned Cholodenko into a darling of the independent film community, she showcased her range by taking on small screen projects. She directed episodes for some of the most provocative television series, from the gothic drama "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05) to the sexually charged "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-09). In 2002, Cholodenko wrote and directed her sophomore feature, "Laurel Canyon." Christian Bale starred in the film as a newly engaged man who moves to Los Angeles with his fiancée (Kate Beckinsale). The couple ends up living with his free-spirited mother (Frances McDormand). The film premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival to much acclaim and went on to win several acting awards for McDormand's nuanced portrayal of a bohemian rocker ironing out the strained relationship with her straight-laced son.

In 2010, Cholodenko received the highest praise of her career with "The Kids Are All Right," a suburban comedy-drama about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) whose teen children track down the sperm donor who fathered them (Mark Ruffalo). In "The Kids Are All Right," Cholodenko sought out to make a slice-of-life film driven by the complicated dynamics between parents and children, and what happens when an unexpected member of the family disrupts that cycle. Anchored by Bening and Moore's multilayered performances, the film touched on issues that any family - gay or straight - could relate to. The project was also deeply personal for Cholodenko, who welcomed a son with her partner, musician Wendy Melvoin, from an anonymous sperm donor four years prior. Reportedly filmed on a $4.5 million budget, "The Kids Are All Right" grossed over $20 million just two months after its release. The film also received rave reviews from critics, who showered Cholodenko with multiple award nominations including Best Director and Best Screenplay nods from the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards, a Golden Globe nod for Best Screenplay, and two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Cholodenko's next project was the four-part TV miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" (HBO 2014), based on the novel by Elizabeth Stout and starring Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. The critically-acclaimed miniseries won Cholodenko the 2015 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special. Remaining on television, Cholodenko next executive produced and directed the pilot of the limited-run series "The Slap" (NBC 2015).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Cavedweller (2004) Director
3.
  Laurel Canyon (2003) Director
4.
  High Art (1998) Director
5.
  dinner party (1994) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Hal (2018)
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Milestones close milestones

2001:
Directed an episode of the HBO series, "Six Feet Under"
1994:
Produced, wrote and directed the short film, "Souvenir"; premiered at the London Film Festival
1999:
Made TV directing debut with an episode of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street"
1992:
Moved to NYC to attend Columbia University
1992:
Was assistant editor on "The Lawnmower Man" and "Used People"
1991:
Served as post-production assitant on John Singleton's "Boys N the Hood"
1996:
Wrote, edited, produced and directed second short film, "Dinner Party"
2005:
Directed an episode of Showtime's "The L Word"
2010:
Co-wrote and directed "The Kids Are All Right," starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening
1998:
Made feature directorial and screenwriting debut, "High Art"
2002:
Wrote and directed second feature, "Laurel Canyon"
2014:
Directed four-part HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge," starring Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

San Francisco State University: San Francisco, California -
Columbia University: New York, New York -

Notes

"I think there have been a lot of people in the arts who have had that experience of just not wanting to succumb to the pressures or conventions of the marketplace--either they made an ethical choice or it was emotionally impossible for them. For whatever specific reason, but mainly because they weren't able to cope with the pressures of commercial success, they drop out or drift into obscurity--I find that a fascinating character and, I think, an archetypical character in modern culture." --Lisa Cholodenko in the press notes for "High Art"

"It's the rare person who can have a thriving professional life and a rich, intact love life." --Cholodenko quoted in DETOUR, June-July 1998

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Karen Cholodenko. Born in 1962.
sister:
Laura Cholodenko. Born in 1969.

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