K-19: The Widowmaker : Star Of The Week

Hollywood is a mans' world. Steven Speilberg, James Cameron, George Lucas are the names which spring straight to mind when you ask anyone about who are the Hollywood hotshots.

Kathryn Bigelow is one of the few women to break the patriarchal mould. She directed action adventure Point Break and returns this month with another male dominated film, K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.

According to director/producer Kathryn Bigelow, the story of what happened to K-19 and her crew had everything an action-thriller needed built right into the actual events as they took place during the Cold War. And, since that war was fought on a mental battlefield rather than a physical one, the film, drawn from public sources and historical record, is that much more intriguing and unique.

"The story had all the elements for a dramatic movie," says Bigelow, who went to Russia prior to filming to talk with K-19's survivors and their families. "It had a built-in 'ticking clock' suspense factor; that is, a nuclear submarine with an impending reactor meltdown that could cause catastrophic global repercussions. It had, at its center, a ferociously dedicated and charismatic captain, whose bold decisions under pressure saved the boat and its crew. And above all, it had the courageous young submariners themselves, who knowingly subjected themselves to a lethal dose of radiation to repair the damage and fend off disaster. "

Caught up in making "K-19: The Widowmaker" for five years, including setting foot on the historic K-19, Bigelow says that she feels privileged to have conducted extensive research with the people whose lives were touched by the K-19 disaster, and she was inspired by their stories to make a film that shows their compelling sacrifice and humanity.

"Our film examines the heroism, courage and prowess of the Soviet submarine force in ways never seen before," adds Bigelow. "It is a fascinating tale of ordinary people who became heroes when faced with a tragic situation. Capturing the nobility of their sacrifice has been the primary motivation for everyone involved in making this film. "

KATHRYN BIGELOW, according to Variety, is "an audaciously talented filmmaker determined to push the envelope for women directors," and in the course of her career, she has distinguished herself as one of Hollywood¹s most innovative filmmakers.

Building up a reputation as one of Hollywoods best filmmakers has been a challenge. Primarily a mans' environment, Bigelow prides herself in the fact she has been involved in some of the most exciting action films ever made, and praise has been coming from all angles.

In 1985, Bigelow directed and also co-wrote the stirring cult classic "Near Dark. " Produced by Steven-Charles Jaffe, the film was critically lauded as "poetic horror," and as always, Bigelow's visual style garnered positive reactions from the press who described it as "dreamy, passionate and terrifying, a hallucinatory vision of the American night-world that becomes both seductive and devastating. " Following the release of "Near Dark," the Museum of Modern Art honored Bigelow with a career retrospective.

In 1991, Bigelow directed the action thriller "Point Break," starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. Executive produced by James Cameron, "Point Break" explored the dangerous extremes of a psychological struggle between two young men. Regarding Bigelow's work on the film The Chicago Tribune commended her astonishing filmmaking sensibilities and described her as "a uniquely talented, uniquely powerful filmmaker who has tapped in to something primal and strong. She is a sensualist in the most sensual of mediums. "

When Bigelow's "Strange Days" was released in 1995, film critic Roger Ebert called it a "technical tour de force. " In this film, Bigelow explored the unsettling prospects of computer-generated virtual reality and the impending new millennium. "Strange Days" received rave reviews and was highly praised for its energy and unique,intense visuals. Film critic Janet Maslin, in The New York Times, stated that Bigelow is "furiously talented. "Operating at full throttle, using material ablaze with eerie promises, she turns 'Strange Days' into a troubling but undeniably breathless joyride. " Starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis, the film was co-written by James Cameron.

Prior to K-19, Bigelow directed "The Weight of Water" starring Sean Penn, Sarah Polley, Catherine McCormack and Elizabeth Hurley. The film's world premiere was a gala screening at the 25th annual Toronto International Film Festival and drew praise from critics and filmmakers alike. Variety described the "The Weight of Water" as being "Bigelow's richest, most ambitious and personal work to date; imbued with suspense, benefiting from Bigelow's penchant for creating a visual sense of menace and an atmosphere of fear. "

Release Date: 25 Oct
Distributor: UiP
Cert: 12
Running Time: 98 mins

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