Prominent American director, Martha Coolidge’s new film, "I’ll Find You", is a very uncommon love story set in Poland before and during WW II. The young lovers, Robert and Rachel, are ripped apart by Nazi practices and the chaos of war continues to separate them as it goes on to destroy the world as they know it. "I was honored to have this amazing opportunity to show many heartless tragedies that we have never seen before", Coolidge explains, "But what really made me love the film is that Robert and Rachel are sustained by hope, love and the music that drew them together. In the end this film is about survival."
Ms. Coolidge distinguishes her movies with outstanding performances, impeccable production values and a nuanced sensitivity to human relationships and faults. "Rambling Rose" received two Academy Award nominations for Laura Dern and Diane Ladd, and won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Ms. Ladd) at the IFP Independent Spirit awards. "The Prince & Me" is a big international love story starring Julia Styles who’s becoming a doctor but a Prince gets in the way. "Valley Girl" was Coolidge’s first movie, and a hit comedy. It introduced Nicholas Cage who made a splash. Another comedy, "Real Genius", launched Val Kilmer, who showed that nerds are smart and sexy.
Coolidge’s work also reflects her keen interest in women’s lives: In "Rambling Rose" a wayward housekeeper enters a family's life looking for love; "Angie", stars Geena Davis who is so independent she breaks up with her boyfriends, James Gandolfini and Stephen Rea, after becoming pregnant.
Even in her television movies Ms. Coolidge redefined personal expression. "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (HBO) told the story of the singer/actress who made history as the first black woman to receive an Oscar nomination for best Actress. It won five Emmys, NAACP Awards and others, and DGA and Emmy nominations for Ms. Coolidge. "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (HBO) (Another DGA nomination) broke ground depicting three lesbian relationships as they changed with society. In "Crazy in Love", Holly Hunter, Gena Rowlands, and Frances McDormand are members of a family in which three generations of women have been plagued by infidelity and jealousy.
As a woman member of the Directors Guild of America, Coolidge served continuously, Chaired Creative Rights, established the Artists Rights Foundation and in 2002, was elected President, the only woman to hold that office. Among other innovations at the guild she helped usher in changes toward women and minorities.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1946, the director is the daughter of two Bauhaus Architects. She has a younger sister and three brothers, and is a cousin of the 30th president of USA, "silent Cal" Coolidge. She often accompanied her father to his building sights, to watch crews carry out his designs. She also participated in his hobby: making movies. Despite his sudden death when she was nine his interests in building, art and making movies impacted the rest of her life. At the Rhode Island School of Design she found her calling, "I loved art, but I found myself when I made movies. Nothing ever felt that right before. I knew I was a director." She impetuously moved to New York, and enrolled in film classes at the School of Visual Arts, and Columbia University. She met hundreds of independent filmmakers and then, chasing her dream, moved to Montreal to work in live and taped TV. She returned to attend New York University Tisch School of the Arts, for her Master of Fine Arts in film.
The Seventies were productive. Coolidge’s first documentary won the John Grierson Award for Best Young Director, and all her films won Blue Ribbons at the American Film Festival and many other awards around the world. "Old Fashioned Woman" opened at the prestigious New York Film Festival and won a Cine Golden Eagle. Then came "Not a Pretty Picture", her first feature. Critics called it Brechtian in style because it cut between the narrative scenes of Martha in High School, and footage of Martha and the actors making the film, digging deep to depict her date rape. The AFI premiered it at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and critics marked her as a filmmaker to watch.
Coolidge came to Hollywood to be an AFI-Academy intern with Robert Wise on "Audrey Rose". Francis Coppola brought her in to his newly formed Zoetrope Studios to direct "Photoplay", a rock and roll love story with he and Fred Roos producing. But financial instability shut them down. Ever resourceful, Coolidge kept working on her own and broke through. Those relationships carried on though and Ms. Coolidge is ecstatic to finally make "I’ll Find You" with Fred Roos.
Martha Coolidge is also a tenured Professor of Directing at Chapman University, an avid horsewoman and is married to Production Designer James Spencer. They have one son. Coolidge has spoken at many events, festivals and universities on women in the industry, and has been published in Letters to the Editor by the New York Times.