Elliott Bay Book Company presents Lady Director: Joyce Chopra in Conversation with Jas Keimig [Virtual Only]

This event took place on Jan 5, 2023

This free event is presented and ticketed by Elliott Bay Book Company, with promotional support from Northwest Film Forum.


Join us for an engaging virtual conversation between director Joyce Chopra (Smooth Talk) and local writer Jas Keimig, who is responsible for the Unstreamable column and film series at Northwest Film Forum. The two will discuss Joyce’s recently released memoir Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond (City Lights).

About the book:

Award–winning director Joyce Chopra came of age in the 1950s. As a young woman, it seemed impossible that she might one day realize her dream of becoming a film director—she couldn’t name a single woman in that role. But with her desire fueled by a stay in Paris during the heady beginnings of the French New Wave, she was determined to find a way.

Chopra got her start making documentary films with the legendary D.A. Pennebaker. From her ground-breaking autobiographical short, Joyce at 34, to her rousingly successful first feature, Smooth Talk (winner of the Best Director and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1985), to a series of increasingly cruel moves by Hollywood producers unwilling to accept a woman in the director’s role, Chopra’s career trajectory was never easy or straightforward.

In this engaging, candid memoir, Chopra describes how she learned to navigate the deeply embedded sexism of the film industry, helping to pave the way for a generation of women filmmakers who would come after her. She shares stories of her bruising encounters with Harvey Weinstein and Sydney Pollack, her experience directing Diane Keaton, Treat Williams, and a host of other actors, as well as her deep friendships with Gene Wilder, Arthur Miller, and Laura Dern.

Along with the successes and failures of her career, she provides an intimate view of a woman’s struggle to balance the responsibilities and rewards of motherhood and marriage with a steadfast commitment to personal creative achievement. During a career spanning six decades, Joyce Chopra has worked through monumental shifts in her craft and in the culture at large, and the span of her life story offers a view into the implacable momentum of the push for all womens’ liberation.

“Joyce Chopra has written a devastatingly frank, candid, and unsparing memoir of her life as a film director—a ‘woman director’ in a field notoriously dominated by men. The reader is astonished on her behalf, at times infuriated, moved to laughter, and then to tears. Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television, and Beyond is one of its kind—highly recommended.” —Joyce Carol Oates, author of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

About the author:

Hailed by the New Yorker as “a crucial forebear of generations,” Joyce Chopra’s film Smooth Talk launched a 15-year-old Laura Dern’s career and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Her autobiographical documentary, Joyce at 34, featured the first live birth ever seen on public television, and is now housed in MoMA’s permanent collection. She lives in Charlottesville, VA.

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