THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
LISA CHOLODENKO truly discovered film while working as an
assistant editor on Boyz N the Hood with the film's
writer/director, double Academy Award nominee John Singleton;
and on Used People with director Beeban Kidron. These
projects spurred her to pursue a film career. She soon
enrolled at Columbia University's School of the Arts, where
she received her M.F.A. in screenwriting and directing.
There, under the auspices of her mentor Milos Forman, Ms.
Cholodenko wrote and directed a number of acclaimed short
films, including Souvenir (1994), which screened at over two
dozen international film festivals; and Dinner Party (1997),
which aired on U.K., French, and Swiss television, and was a
winner of the British Film Institute's Channel 4 TX prize.
Also at Columbia, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was one of
She made her feature directorial debut with High Art,
starring Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell, from her own
original screenplay. The intimate NYC-set drama world premiered
at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, where it
brought her the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Following the
film's theatrical release later that year, Ally Sheedy was
cited as Best Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics
Association and the National Society of Film Critics, and won
the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. High Art
received four more Independent Spirit Award nominations,
including Best First Screenplay and Best Supporting Female
(Patricia Clarkson). Additional honors for the picture
included the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film [Limited
Release] and the Deauville Film Festival's Jury Special
During editing sessions for High Art, she would listen to a
great deal of music. One morning, her editor, Amy Duddleston,
brought in the Joni Mitchell record Ladies of the Canyon. Ms.
Cholodenko became inspired, and so Joni Mitchell would be the
catalyst for her second feature, Laurel Canyon, set and
filmed in the heart of the Hollywood Hills. The film,
starring Kate Beckinsale and Christian Bale, world-premiered
at the 2002 Cannes International Film Festival. Laurel Canyon
subsequently brought the writer/director the Director's View
Film Festival's Dorothy Arzner Prize in 2003; the film also
earned Independent Spirit Award nominations for actors
Frances McDormand and Alessandro Nivola.
Ms. Cholodenko's third feature was Cavedweller, adapted by
Anne Meredith from the Dorothy Allison novel about
reconciling past and future. Cavedweller starred Kyra
Sedgwick and Aidan Quinn, both of whom earned Independent
Spirit Award nominations for their performances. In 2004,
Cavedweller brought Ms. Cholodenko the Seattle International
Film Festival's New American Cinema Award and the Karlovy
Vary International Film Festival's Award of Ecumenical Jury.
She has also directed episodes of such television programs as
Homicide: Life on the Street, Six Feet Under, Hung, and The L
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