For many, Barbara Kopple will always be known as the young woman who refused to back down to strike-breaking thugs with guns in the iconic Harlan County USA. Film fans adore her for making dozens of wonderful documentaries, including one named among the top 25 of all time. Progressives recognize her for a lifetime of activism. Feminists love her for breaking the glass ceiling of the film industry. Sports fans dig her work with Mike Tyson and the New York Yankees. Music fans have rallied around her work with the Dixie Chicks, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and spinoff documentary from the massively-popular-among-Millennials High School Musical.
Barbara is still a rabble-rouser, but today she is also one of the best-known female directors working in movies. She has won two Academy Awards. She owns and runs a successful production company from New York City. She speaks at dozens of festivals, film events and universities each year. She has worked and played with giants including Woody Allen, Mike Tyson, Gregory Peck, Mariel Hemingway, and Anne Hathaway. And she still knows how to kick down a few doors when necessary.
This year her latest film will be released, Miss Sharon Jones!, telling the story of the internationally beloved, cooler-than-cool soul singer and her Grammy-nominated band the Dap-Kings. Before that came Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation, premiering at MOMA’s Documentary Fortnight in February to rave reviews. Running From Crazy, a film about actress Mariel Hemingway from executive producer Oprah Winfrey, earned an Emmy nomination in 2014.
Barbara directed star Anne Hathaway in the movie Havoc and episodes of the hit dramas OZ (HBO) and Homicide (NBC), winning another DGA Award for Outstanding Direction. Other films include: The House of Steinbrenner about the Yankees for ESPN’s popular 30 For 30 series, Woodstock: Now and Then, the Dixie Chicks film Shut Up and Sing, My Generation, Wild Man Blues about Woody Allen’s tour of Europe with his jazz band and his new wife Soon-Yi, Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, winner of a DGA Award for Outstanding Direction, A Conversation with Gregory Peck and many more. Peck called it his second favorite film, after To Kill a Mockingbird!
Barbara is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America and actively participates in organizations addressing social issues and supporting independent filmmaking. She has spoken at the commencement for American University, presented Robert Redford his IDA lifetime achievement award, and has been interviewed for countless events and media.
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