Martha Coolidge Never Had a Fallback Plan

Doesn’t everyone have a fallback plan? 

“I was willing to make a fallback plan but I don’t think I ever went there,” said award-winning American film director Martha Coolidge who helmed the influential films Valley Girl and Real Genius.

Coolidge recently visited Bellingham to speak at the Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival (CIWFF) at the Mount Baker Theater.

Photo Credit: David Loudon

“Martha Coolidge is one of the most illustrious women directors working in the film industry today,” said CIWFF Executive Director Cheryl Crooks.

During the event, Coolidge was interviewed by the President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Film Week critic on NPR’s KPCC Claudia Puig. Puig flew from Los Angeles to Bellingham to record for her NPR show.

When Coolidge applied to film school at New York University, she was asked, “What makes you think you can be a director? There are no women directors.” 

Coolidge said, “It never occurred to me to think I couldn’t be a director because there weren’t any [women directors].” 

She was the first female president of the Directors Guild of America. She was elected in 2001. During her 40 year career she has more than 52 directing credits to her name. 

Coolidge has received awards, industry recognition and “has a fierce advocacy for women in film devoting her life career to that,” Crooks said. 

She has worked with actors like Laura Dern, Nicholas Cage, Geena Davis, Robert Duvall, and Halle Berry.

CIWFF has produced six multi-day film events at the Mount Baker Theater, always in May, starting in 2017. 

Crooks said, “It takes about a hundred people to put this festival on, including our directors, and our staff people, and our home hosts our volunteers and otherwise this would not be happening.” 

The Horizon also had a chance to sit down with Martha Coolidge to discuss her life and career. Listen here:

Photo Credit: David Loudon
Photo Credit: David Loudon

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