Joyce Chopra

Joyce Chopra

Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara will host a virtual discussion with acclaimed filmmaker and author Joyce Chopra, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30. To view the event on Zoom, click here.

Hailed by the New Yorker as “a crucial forebear of generations,” award-winning director Chopra came of age in the 1950s, before 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 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 her 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 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, 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,” writes Joyce Carol Oates, author of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”