ISBN-10: 0872868680
ISBN-13: 9780872868687
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/17/2022
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 5.50" W, 0.70" H

Published by City Lights

Lady Director


Price: $17.95 $12.57


An intimate account of a seminal filmmaker’s development–as a creator and as a woman–both in art and in life.

“Joyce Chopra, what a gift of an extraordinary filmmaker you are, and one of our great pioneers who forged a very difficult path. And for female filmmakers everywhere, we are so blessed to have you as a storyteller to forge the way to make it easier for others.”–Laura Dern, actor

Hailed by the New Yorker as “a crucial forebear of generations,” award-winning director Joyce Chopra came of age in the 1950s, prior to the dawn of feminism, and long before the #MeToo movement. 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 (which was acquired for NY MoMA’S permanent collection), 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?”


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Praise for Joyce Chopra's Lady Director:

"Her autobiography traces the evolving role of women directors in Hollywood by drawing extensively on her own five decades in film and television. . . the insights she offers into the profession are rare . . . Chopra writes in a prose style that is both unflinching and unsentimental."–Annie Berke, The Washington Post

"Joyce Chopra was the Ava DuVernay, the Kathryn Bigelow and the Sofia Coppola of her day. . . . In her new memoir, Chopra looks back on all that's happened in her extraordinary career, sharing stories about Hollywood producers who were unwilling to work with a woman director . . ."–Raechal Shewfelt, Yahoo's IT LIST

"Chopra's efforts paved the way for the likes of Jane Campion, Sarah Polley, Ava DuVernay and others. It was never easy. But love rarely is." – Chris Vognar, San Francisco Chronicle

"After more than 50 years in the business, Chopra is reclaiming that eye-rolling moniker for her first memoir, Lady Director, Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond, an insightful, emotional, and often quite dishy rollercoaster ride through her life and career."–Kate Erbland, IndieWire

"Joyce Chopra paved the way for future female filmmakers, and this book illuminates how ahead of her time she has always been. Her honesty is refreshing as she lets readers into her life, detailing her relationships, friendships, personal triumphs and devastating tragedies. Here is a woman who has nothing to lose, who is ready to tell her story, from her perspective, in her own words, with no holding back. I only wish I'd had this book to read when I was a shy teenage girl, to give me extra confidence as I dreamed of my own career in film."–Alicia Malone, TCM host and author of Girls on Film: Lessons From a Life of Watching Women in Movies

"Lady Director is not just a fascinating memoir, but an entertaining, inspiring and occasionally outrage-inducing report from the frontlines of filmmaking. An absolute must-read for anyone interested in the history of American cinema."–Elizabeth Weitzman, film critic and author of Renegade Women in Film & TV

"In her roller coaster of a memoir, Chopra shares what it was like to be one of the first female directors in Los Angeles. Recalling remarkable experiences of sexism, the effort of balancing a career with the pressures of motherhood, friendships with Hollywood legends, and the ways filmmaking has changed over the past 60 years, this memoir sheds light on the continuing fight for women's rights."–ALTA Magazine

"It's exhilarating to travel alongside her as so many well-known figures cross her path; in every phase of her adult life, Joyce Chopra has been there, in the thick of things, at the center of key movements and moments."–Bridgett M Davis, LIBER: A Feminist Review

"Award-winning film director Chopra's memoir pulls no punches. . . She candidly describes navigating sexism and abuse in the film industry; her start as a documentarian; her groundbreaking autobiographical short Joyce at 34; winning Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival for her first feature film, Smooth Talk; and her constant battles with Hollywood producers who refused to work with a woman director."–Rebekah J Buchanan, Library Journal

"Chopra chronicles her career as a pioneering film and television director during an era in which women were not being welcomed into the field. . . . She has now created an engaging account of the life of a working director who persevered through numerous and harrowing setbacks."– Kristine Huntley, Booklist

"Documentarian Chopra offers an insider's perspective and settles some scores in this shrewd memoir of her life in the film and TV industries. . Brisk and unsentimental, Chopra writes with fierce intent to set the record straight. Much like Anne Theroux's The Year of the End, this is a revealing and retributive glimpse behind the curtain."–Publishers Weekly

"City Lights will publish Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond, a memoir from Joyce Chopra, who started out making documentaries before directing her first fictional feature. Smooth Talk (1985) gave us a breakout performance from a young Laura Dern and The Lemon Sisters (1990) focuses on three lifelong friends played by Diane Keaton, Carol Kane, and Kathryn Grody."–David Hudson, The Criterion Daily

"Through the lens of an extraordinary, determined and adventurous career, Lady Director reminds us that present day female Oscar nominees for Best Director stand on the shoulders of women like Joyce Chopra. This surprising often shocking book is destined to become a classic."–Honor Moore, author of Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury

"Joyce Chopra's memoir is like a mentor in my pocket. Her vibrant writing makes me feel like I'm right there next to her, and her stories resonate with me and inspire me as a filmmaker and artist working today."–Alexi Pappas, filmmaker and author of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

"Chopra's memoir–both personal and political–is a deeply necessary corrective to histories of cinema and tales of the great artists of the '60s and '70s that tend to focus on big men and their big movies. Like all of Chopra's work, this memoir candidly reminds us of the injustices that structure our world, and gently says, we can do better. The book is a gift to all of us digging for authentic, revealing stories about the lives of women artists." –Shilyh Warren, author of Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary

"Lady Director is a bold, sometimes devastating, uncommonly honest and brilliant story of the inextricable nature of art and life, where few have feared to tread in cinema or on the page. Having already blessed film culture with at least two all-time masterpieces (Joyce at 34 and Smooth Talk), Joyce Chopra's crucial memoir may be her most lasting contribution. A rare and great work that will be read for years to come, and that we are lucky to have."–Jacob Perlin, Founding Artistic Director of Metrograph, and distributor, "The Film Desk"

"Across six decades, Chopra–whose career began in the early 1960s making documentaries with D.A. Pennebaker – has proven herself a nimble and reflexive artist, not just an indispensable voice in documentary filmmaking but also in feature-length fiction, television movies, miniseries, and episodic TV. With Lady Director, she introduces herself as a skillful memoirist, too."–Blake Peterson, 425Magazine

"A fascinating insider view of the film industry from a director's perspective . . ."–Charles Rammelkamp, The Compulsive Reader"Before Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers directed their first features, there was Joyce Chopra. She's not a household name like Ephron and Meyers, but Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond affirms that Chopra was a boundary breaker and that the story of a jagged career path can be much more interesting than the story of a steady ascent. How fortunate for readers ofLady Director, and for every woman now in the film and television business, that she persevered."–Nell Beram, Shelf Awareness
". . . in the men's club that was Hollywood, Chopra faced innumerable challenges. She needed a rare resilience. With candor and compassion, in her new memoir, she reveals her long and winding creative journey."–Paul Freeman, "Pop Culture Classics"
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ISBN-10: 0872868680
ISBN-13: 9780872868687
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 11/17/2022
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 5.50" W, 0.70" H
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