Kimberly Peirce

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Kimberly Peirce
Born Kimberly Ane Peirce[1]
(1967-09-08) September 8, 1967 (age 51)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer
Years active 1994–present
Partner(s) Evren Savci

Kimberly Ane Peirce (born September 8, 1967) is an American feature film director, best known for her debut feature film, Boys Don't Cry (1999). Her second feature, Stop-Loss, was released by Paramount Pictures in 2008. Her most recent feature film, Carrie, was released on October 18, 2013.

Early life

Peirce was born on September 8, 1967, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Sherry and Robert A. Peirce (originally Materazzi), who owned a construction company.[1] When Peirce was three, she moved to New York City, and at age eleven she moved to Miami, Florida where she eventually graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School.[2]


Early career and films

While attending the University of Chicago, Peirce moved to Kobe, Japan for two years to work as a photographer and teach English,[3] and then to New York City to work as a photography intern for Time magazine under photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt. She then returned to the University of Chicago to graduate with a degree in English and Japanese Literature.[4]

Peirce then enrolled at Columbia University,[5] to pursue an MFA in film.[5] While at Columbia, Peirce completed The Last Good Breath, an experimental short film about two star-crossed lovers caught amidst a world war in which one lover always lives and the other always dies. The short screened as part of the Leopards of Tomorrow program at the Locarno International Film Festival.[6]


While at Columbia working on an idea for her thesis film about a female soldier in drag during the American Civil War,[7] Peirce read a Village Voice article[8] 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.[5]

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.[9] 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. Chloë Sevigny 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. Peirce won honors as Best Debut Director from the National Board of Review and Best New Filmmaker from the Boston Society of Film Critics.[citation needed]

In 2005, inspired by the real-life stories of American soldiers, including her own brother, fighting in Iraq and coming home, Peirce began work on Stop-Loss. Peirce traveled the country interviewing soldiers about their experiences and worked with novelist and screenwriter Mark Richard to turn the research into a screenplay.[10]

Released in 2008, Stop-Loss received positive reviews from critics. Peirce was honored with the Hamilton Behind the Camera True-Grit Directing Award as well as the Andrew Sarris Directing Awards for the film.[11][12] In association with the film, Peirce created a website called SoundOff and gave soldiers and their families cameras to record and share their stories and opinions. Shortly after the film's release, Peirce spoke before the National Press Club and members of Congress on behalf of Soldiers and the Stop-Loss Compensation Act, which financially compensated soldiers for multiple tours of duty served because of the stop-loss policy.[13] The measure subsequently passed.[citation needed]

Much of the inspiration for her two films was said to come from her love of The Godfather:

It showed me that I can take that love of the gangster movie and I can screen it through a family drama. In both my movies family is really important, violence is really important. I’m really interested in the psychological and the authentic portrayal of violence—particularly violence that comes out of emotions. Before The Godfather, I don’t know that you could have such a violent psychological film that was that broadly entertaining.[14]

Peirce directed a remake of the 1976 horror film Carrie, released on October 18, 2013, and starring Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role.

On February 16, 2011 it was announced that Peirce will direct the crime thriller The Knife,[15] about two men from opposite sides of the law who must overcome their mistrust of one another and risk their lives in order to infiltrate the organization of a ruthless gang leader threatening to spread armed violence across Los Angeles and the urban centers of America.[16]

Peirce is in negotiations to direct and executive produce a limited series for USA Network written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men).[17]

Peirce co-wrote the script for Silent Star, a murder mystery about the 1922 death of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor and the scandals that nearly destroyed the film industry. However, the project stalled.[10]

Peirce is currently working on a sex comedy "with a gender twist" for producer Judd Apatow and Universal Studios.[18]

Personal life

Peirce is openly lesbian.[19]



  • This Film Is Not Yet Rated – Peirce about the trouble Boys Don't Cry had with the MPAA, particularly the censoring of the sex scenes. Peirce displayed anger over the fact the MPAA wanted the sex scene between Brandon and Lana removed but were satisfied with the overall brutality and violence in the murder scene.[20]
  • Raging Bull – 30th Anniversary Release, Special Features[21]
  • Chinatown – Centennial Collection DVD, Special Features[22]
  • The Godfather – The Coppola Restoration, Special Features, 'The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't'[23]



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Robert Peirce Obituary - Lake Worth, FL - The Palm Beach Post". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  2. "Miami Sunset Senior High School Profile". 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  3. "index magazine interview". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  4. "Chicago Life". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Stop-Loss press notes, Paramount Pictures
  6. "filmbug". filmbug. 2008-07-12. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  7. "Kimberly Peirce / The Kimberly Peirce Story | MovieMaker Magazine". 1999-11-15. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  8. "Arts". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  9. Hugh Hart (2009-06-28). "'' 'Reel Truth' Gets to the Bottom of Indies ''". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Valby, Karen (2008-03-28). "'War and Peirce' by Karen Valby, ''Entertainment Weekly'', March 28, 2008". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 The 2008 Behind the Camera Awards Archived December 2, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  12. 12.0 12.1 N'neka Hite (2008-04-29). "''Kimberly Peirce set for Sarris Award''". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  13. "Director campaigns for stop-loss payments – Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq". Air Force Times. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  14. Peirce, Kimberly. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p105. Print.
  15. "'Inside Man' by Guy Lawson". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  16. Universal Sets Kim Peirce for Gang Informant Drama 'The Knife'[dead link]
  17. Andreeva, Nellie. "USA Unveils Development Slate Of 7 Dramas & 5 Comedies, Eyes Daily Talk Show". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  18. "EXCL: Peirce Developing Romantic Sex Comedy with Apatow". 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  19. Michael Musto (1999-09-28). "Real Fiction – Page 1 – Movies – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  20. Dick, Kirby (director). (2006). This Film Is Not Yet Rated. Motion Picture (DVD). IFC Films
  21. [1][dead link]
  22. "Chinatown (Centennial Collection) Exclusive – Chinatown (Centennial Collection) Movie Exclusive – Exclusive for Chinatown (Centennial Collection) – Exclusive DVD Clip: The Film". 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  23. "The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration – Bonus Material". 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  24. "Young Hollywood Award". Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  25. "award listings". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  26. "The Satyajit Ray Foundation – Previous winners". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 "The Kimberly Peirce Picture Pages". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  28. "Movie Archive – Boys Don't Cry". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  29. "Top Story". Gay Today. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 

External links