Lisa Cholodenko

Lisa Cholodenko

Lisa Cholodenko was born in Los Angeles. 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).