Kimberly Peirce
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Kimberly Peirce

Utica, Michigan, United States

Utica, Michigan, United States
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The best kept secret in music

Press



Writer of film on Iraq war tries to win hearts and minds
02:10 PM CDT on Thursday, March 27, 2008
By
cvognar@dallasnews.com
Kimberly Peirce is in Dallas, the 21st city she's visited in the last few months to promote her new
movie, Stop-Loss. Such tours are usually about meeting the press, giving us a few quotes and moving
right along. But the writer-director has been going the extra mile, speaking to audiences at preview
screenings. She's been pressing the flesh and rallying potential viewers and showing slide shows put
together by soldiers in Iraq.
"I've been doing this since November," she says as one of her cast
members, Victor Rasuk, sits silently beside her. "Everywhere people love
the fact that the film is emotional and moving and they can relate to it. I
needed to get out there and connect with people. I've been able to get to
know my audience. I have to rely on word of mouth."
She knows she has a tough sell. Stop-Loss is about Iraq, specifically a
young veteran from Texas (Ryan Phillippe) who rebels when he's
stop-lossed, or ordered back overseas after his required tour is done. Iraq
films, from the flabby (Home of the Brave) to the fantastic (In the Valley of
Elah), have been dead on arrival at the box office, done in by fatigue with
an ongoing war and a widespread suspicion that any film dealing with said
war is somehow un-American.
Ms. Peirce, who burst onto the scene in 1999 as the director of Boys Don't
Cry, wants you to know why her film is different.
"Every soldier who has seen it has loved it," she says. "They stand up and say, 'Thank you for making
it. This is my story.' Iraq vets have looked at the script since the beginning. I'm military family, so I
have an obligation."
Indeed, Ms. Peirce's younger brother enlisted soon after 9/11, like so many other young Americans.
She remembers exchanging instant messages with him once he arrived, chatting about drills and
'Boys Don't Cry' director Kimberly Peirce out to win hearts for '... http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-p...
1 of 2 8/25/08 1:04 PM
military acronyms.
But when she tried to probe a little deeper, her brother resisted, telling her: "I'm a professional soldier.
This is what I'm paid to do. I don't get paid to think. If I think too much I'll get killed on guard
tonight."
But he did eventually help her get in touch with stateside veterans. Many of the details in Stop-Loss,
from language and clothes to the wild party thrown by soldiers happy to be home, come from those
conversations.
Ms. Peirce, who shot most of Boys Don't Cry in the Dallas area, knew she had to return to Texas for
Stop-Loss. A lot of the film was shot near Austin, with several key scenes in Lockhart ("I've never
eaten so much barbecue").
She thought about setting the film in Paris, Ill., a small town ravaged by Iraq combat casualties. But
she was after a certain Lone Star mind-set, an attitude to match the statistics showing that many
soldiers come from Texas.
"I wanted them to have the gung-ho, tough-guy attitude," she says. "You don't have it the same way
anywhere else as you do here. There were all of these wonderful cinematic elements I could grab a
hold of and use authentically – pickups and army gear and broken-down cars. You couldn't set that in
New York or LA."
Now she'll see if Stop-Loss can break through at the box office. Success may require something of a
Texas two-step: While the film does a fine job depicting the pride and pain of soldiers coming home,
it is also highly critical of U.S. policy. It walks that tricky line between supporting the troops and
criticizing the war, an unsavory balance for those who live by the "for us or against us" ethos.
And so she continues her tour, trying to win audiences' hearts and minds one city at a time.
'Boys Don't Cry' director Kimberly Peirce out to win hearts for '... http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-p...
2 - CHRIS VOGNAR / The Dallas Morning News


High on the list of indie-world mysteries -- up there with Quentin Tarantino's love
interests and what exactly Christine Vachon carries around in that backpack --is how
Kim Peirce has been spending the past eight-and-a-half years.
Peirce of course made her debut at Venice in 1999 with "Boys Don't Cry," that rare
picture that signals the arrival of a new actor, producer and director all at the same
time. Hillary Swank went on to win a best actress Oscar, Hart-Sharp began its run of
prestige pictures and Peirce collected a truckload of directing awards and accolades.
The writer-helmer then faded from view. She was attached to no scripts and penned nothing of her own for years. Like a
number of late 90's phenoms (Tamara Jenkins also comes to mind), she seemed to be either gliding on past success or
unable to figure out how to follow it up.
Turns out Peirce wasn't sitting idle. After feeling moved by 9/11, the director set out to shoot the
stories of young people who enlisted, in what she thought might be a documentary about the subject.
Instead it led to a script about patriotism and the disjunction between enlistees' hopes and their
reality, which soon morphed into a script about a soldier facing moral choices brought on by the stoploss
rule (a kind of backdoor draft in which soldiers who've completed their service are called back
into active duty on a technicality).
The project sold to Paramount as "Stop-Loss," cast young stars like Ryan Phillippe and got absorbed
under the MTV Films label as that rare creature: a quick-cut, music-heavy twentysomething take on
war. ("Jarhead" is probably the closest comparison, though this film makes the more courageous
choice of being set in the current Gulf conflict.) Weirdly, like "Boys," Peirce's newest movie is also
about a conflicted young person named Brandon, though unless you get esoteric about the nature of storytelling, that's petty
much where the similarities end.
Peirce has spent the last few weeks on a tour of her own; Par sent her to 22 cities with the film, where she's met veterans,
collected experiences and lobbied for the picture. (They also set up a site where veterans and others who've seen the movie
can respond to it.) Peirce will end the circuit next week with stops in L.A. and New York for the film's premieres.
We caught up with Peirce on her way to the "Stop-Loss" SXSW debut Thursday night, from where she said she set out to
relay the story of the modern soldier. "Traveling around the country before I decided to make this film, I heard from so
many veterans who say they wanted to see something that represented their experieces," she said. "Many of these soldiers
enlisted after 9/11 because they were patriotic and wanted to do something for their country, but once they got over (to the
Middle East) they found it wasn't what they had signed up for. It was about first and foremost how to save each other."
Yahoo! Buzz
The Hollywood Reporter: Risky Biz Blog: Kim Peirce, With No Losses (But Many Stops) 8/25/08 1:53 PM
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Peirce said that while she's been busy with her film and hasn't seen the other Iraq-themed movies yet, she was unbowed by
the failure of those features. "This film is the first to tell the story from the soldier's perspective," she said. "It has several
audiences. It's the nineteen-year-old girl whose brother is being shipped out and doesn't quite know what to do, and it's
about the person who doesn't know any soldiers but wants to find out."
Given the wide release and the recent track record of Iraq pics, "Stop" has its work cut out for it on the marketing front, as
we note in today's paper. But it also will seek to become an avatar of a new kind of movie, one that speaks to the current
soldier experience in ways that aren't sugar-coated but aren't didactic either. It's a chance, in other words, to offer a more
nuanced politics than previous Iraq features. As someone involved with the film succinctly noted, "It's not pro-military, but
it is pro-soldier." And, oh yes, it'll also bring back Kim Peirce. - By Steven Zeitchik- Hollywood Reporter


Sometimes films have the power to make change in the culture. That seems to be the case with Kimberly Peirce's film Stop-Loss
about a soldier who returns from his time in Iraq hoping to be discharged having done his time, only to find out he is being sent
back against his wishes. It is a powerful drama about the human consequences of war that so often get missed. Here is my
review: Stop-Loss.
Since the release of the film Peirce has spent many months traveling the country, showing the film to raise attention about this
issue. Her recent appearance at the National Press Club provoked national press coverage about this policy that is unknown to
most of the country. Women & Hollywood spoke with Peirce about the cultural
impact of her film.
Women & Hollywood: How do you believe movies can effect change in our
culture?
Kimberly Peirce: Movies can be an incredibly powerful art form. The
medium itself is powerful because you are creating a whole world and
engaging people in a story. The way we release movies is powerful -- we
create events and people go to see them in a theatre with others and talk
about it. The way we do the advertising is also powerful. The medium itself
and the way it is communicated to the culture has profound ways of
engaging people and therefore effecting change.
W&H: You could have released this film and then moved on to your next project, but it seems you have become a spokesperson
for this issue. Why?
Melissa Silverstein: Interview with Kimberly Peirce, Director of Stop-Loss 8/25/08 4:11 PM
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KP: It's very interesting because it is similar to what happened on Boys Don't Cry. It's not so much that I start with
the issue, I start with a character. My little brother fought in Iraq and it profoundly effected my entire family. My
mother, sister and I were dealing with the fear you have when one of your loved ones is in combat. I was thinking
about how it would change him. I went around the country and interviewed soldiers and their families and saw what
they were going through. I have been showing the film to people -- soldiers and non soldiers -- and they are being
moved and are saying to me "oh my god this has to be stopped," or "I didn't know about this thank you for teaching
it to me." So in a way the movie is just a continuation of a basic curiosity and a need to communicate.
W&H: So you've created a cultural conversation about this issue?
KP: Yeah- it's really exciting. We have over 1,000 comments on the sound off website. I am very much a believer in
telling a story honestly, emotionally and believably. People are saying thanks for making a movie we can relate to.
W&H: Most of the films about Iraq have struggled at the box office. Do you think there is a disconnect between the war and the
country?
KP: I don't believe there is a full disconnect. I believe that in some ways these movies were not marketed correctly. If
you had marketed them correctly they would be bringing in more people. When I took my movie around to 24 cities
I had packed screenings and 90% of the audiences stayed for the q and a. Soldiers stood up and told their stories.
They loved being emotionally moved. I believe that America does want stories that move them.
I've also heard criticism that there is Iraq war fatigue. I don't buy it at all. If you tell them the movie is going to be
non-stop warfare they're not going to go, it's too threatening. But when you deliver a movie about people coming
home and human emotions, they'll go and they'll love it. There is an appetite for that. I think that the reporting on
Iraq and not making the stories personal has numbed the audience out.
Also, we put a certain expectations on the films that are not the broad comedies or the big commercial movies and I
don't think they should be competing (with each other). I do think there is a vast audience for entertaining, engaging
human stories but that audience should not be compared to the audience that is going to the broad comedies. When
you release them at the same time and there's a competition as to who is number one at the box office, it's really
kind of missing the point. They are not the same thing. They have totally different functions and I feel really
passionately about that because what ends up happening is that the films get a bad rap and I think that it's much
more complex than how people are explaining it.
W&H: So is there a general problem in marketing smaller dramas?
KP: Most of the time the public is not thinking about how many theatres a movie is in, what the per screen average
is and they shouldn't be. But somehow this obsession with the box office is unfortunately skewing things.
W&H: How do movies that are a little different get seen in this box office obsessed world?
KP: I think they need a little more time meaning trying to open big quickly certainly works - Huffington Post


Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-OH)
were joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D - IL) and Congressman
Walter Jones (RNC) to call on Congress to compensate troops affected by "stop
loss," a policy that involuntarily extends military service beyond an enlistment
contract.Colby Buzzell, a veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom who was stoplossed; leadership of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States and Veterans for America; and Kimberley Peirce, writer/director of the nationally-released feature film "Stop Loss" also voiced their support.
Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman Sutton have introduced a bill, the Stop-
Loss Compensation Act in the Senate and House (S. 3060 and H.R. 6205), which
would require the Pentagon to pay affected troops an additional $1,500 for each
month their service is extended.
"After months and years of risking their lives, our troops are too often being told
they cannot return home to their families as scheduled," Senator Lautenberg said.
"The military made a deal with our men and women in uniform-and if our troops
are required to serve longer than that commitment, that sacrifice should be
rewarded."
"Since introducing this bill, soldiers have written to tell me about the negative
impacts stop loss has had on their lives and the lives of their families. While stoploss may provide a temporary fix for maintaining troop levels, the lasting result of abusing this policy will be to deter young men and women from joining the Armed Forces," Congresswoman Sutton said. "We have already asked our soldiers to sacrifice so much for their country, and they have honored that commitment with bravery and dignity. Now too many of them are being forced to go back.
Compensating our troops for this continued sacrifice is the least we can do."
"The stop-loss policy not only undermines the voluntary nature of our
armed forces, but it also hurts the morale of our troops by unexpectedly prolonging their service" Schakowsky said. "Instead of turning its attention to providing incentives for recruitment, the Bush Administration continues to utilize a stop-loss policy, forcing those who have already completed the terms of their enlistment to return to the front lines. This legislation represents a small token of our appreciation for the troops who have been forced to return to Iraq because of the poor decisions and lack of planning by the Bush Administration."
"The persistent use of stop loss authority violates the spirit of an all-volunteer force and imposes a significant burden on our troops and their families. I have
personally spoken to service members who have lost limbs after their service was
extended," Congressman Jones said. "By requiring additional monthly pay for U.S.
service members whose service on active duty is extended by a stop loss order,
this legislation would ensure that additional service and sacrifice do not go
unrewarded. It is also my hope that the Stop Loss Compensation Act would serve
as an incentive for the Department of Defense to discontinue its reliance on stop
loss."
"Stop loss is a beautiful way to destroy troop moral and lower military recruitment
and retention," Colby Buzzell said. "I've seen the effects of involuntarily extending
soldiers' service and I feel that the stop loss compensation act is the least we can
do to support our troops, both those currently serving, as well as those who already have sacrificed for our country."
"Hundreds of thousands in the Guard and Reserve have set aside their families
and lives and taken up arms to defend their country in the war on terror.
Compensating our service members for this selfless but non-contracted service is
appropriate and necessary-these men and women deserve no less for their
extraordinary sacrifice," Frank Yoakum of the Enlisted Association of the National
Guard of the United States said. "Of all the abuses borne by our service members since the beginning of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, excessive reliance on stop-loss is one of the most egregious. Involuntary service negates the promise of our all-volunteer military. By forcing tens of thousands of troops to stay in the military, we have broken the contract that our service members willing entered into with their country," Bobby Muller of Veterans for America said. "Senator Lautenberg's and Congresswoman Sutton's bill are important steps toward recognizing the incredible sacrifice that stop-loss creates."
"While researching and screening our film STOP-LOSS, patriotic soldiers and
family members said they were proud to have fought for and defended our country and, having completed their contractual terms of service, felt they had earned the right to move on with their lives. These soldiers claim stop-loss amounts to 'recycling the soldiers who served and should be getting out' and a violation of the promise of the volunteer army they signed up for," Peirce said. "I - SouthJerseyLocalNews.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

The national attention this award-winning war film has garnered is incredible and this lecture is timely and powerful. It's a film that speaks to the college generation and brings to light practices that need to be discussed. This film has even been discussed on the Senate floor and screenings and discussions have occurred at the highest levels of government. All 3 major presidential candidates have even spoken about this film as well as the subject matter it brought to light in debates/interviews in the last few weeks. On his website, Obama even asks people to sign a petition to End Stop Loss policy and he encourages people to see STOP-LOSS the movie. Just a few of the more important appearances are listed below. This is a subject that is being discussed across America...your students will flock to this important screening/lecture this Fall.

You may recall Kimberly Peirce as the award-winning writer/director of Academy Award winner BOYS DON'T CRY. One of the most respected young women in Hollywood, Peirce talks about her struggles as a woman in that town and in getting this personal and controversial film made, as well as a timely discussion of this film's subject matter.

Peirce has co-written, with novelist Mark Richard, STOP-LOSS, a topical and emotionally penetrating drama inspired by the real life stories of American soldiers fighting in Iraq (including her own brother) and a government policy that has affected the lives of more than 80,000 of America's bravest men and women in uniform. The enforcement of the stop-loss policy, which retains soldiers in service beyond their expected term, widely known as the "Back Door Draft," makes soldiers walk the fine line between doing their duty and doing what's right.

She also started the SOUND OFF website, where videos made by soldiers and their families with cameras Kimberly's team gave them are posted -- they comment, I comment, viewers comment. We have received over 1000 comments on the movie alone from soldiers and their families who talk about the film's accuracy and from non-military who are amazed that so many soldiers are being stop-lossed (100,000) appreciative to be finding out about the policy and eager to do something to help.

Continuing her tradition of writing real life stories inspired by America and the American family, Peirce is currently co-writing to direct a darkly entertaining tale of SEX, SECRETS and TABOO in SUBURBIA and an as yet untittled new work on the lawless streets of New Orleans as they become the breeding ground for a great American gangster.