Kimberly Peirce reflects on how UChicago shaped her filmmaking career
Kimberly Peirce, AB’90, said she would not have become a filmmaker without the guidance of UChicago Prof. Lauren Berlant, now a renowned literary scholar and cultural theorist.
When Kimberly Peirce made Boys Don’t Cry two decades ago, she created the movie as a labor of love. The University of Chicago alum wanted to tell the story of Brandon Teena, to honor the courage and imagination of a trans person who lost his life in pursuit of his true self.
But the small, independent film became a surprise hit and cultural touchstone, one that established Peirce as a director and helped shape a national conversation about gender and sexual identity. None of that would have been possible without UChicago, Peirce insisted during a recent visit to campus. This is where she got lost in the study of Shakespeare and history and physics—and where she met a young professor whose honest advice transformed her career path.
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