Person of the Week: Kathryn Bigelow

Action film director has broken through the glass ceiling.

ByABC News
February 5, 2010, 4:18 PM

Feb. 5, 2010— -- Kathryn Bigelow is not fond of being in front of the camera; the 58-year old film director would much prefer to be behind it.

"I'm kind of very shy by nature," she said in an interview with Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers, on the ABC News Now show "Popcorn."

These days, the 6-foot-tall, lanky Bigelow can't avoid the spotlight following the critical success of her film "The Hurt Locker." The tense, gritty, mostly handheld-camera-filmed movie takes place in Iraq in 2004 and follows an elite Army bomb squad assigned to find and defuse explosives.

A.O Scott, a film critic for the New York Times, called it "the best non-documentary feature made yet about Iraq." Richard Corliss from Time magazine said it is a "near perfect war film." Roger Ebert of the Chicago-Sun Times deemed Bigelow "a master of stories about men and women who choose to be in physical danger."

Bigelow may call herself shy by nature, but the one thing this director does not shy away from is action. From "Blue Steel" in 1990, about a female cop being stalked by a psychopathic killer, to the cult favorite "Point Break" in 1991, about an FBI agent posing as a surfer trying to catch armed robbers, Bigelow's films are pumped up with energy, movement and adrenalin.

"She has a real muscularity to her filmmaking," freelance film journalist Ari Karpel told ABC News.

"Every one of her movies has a kinetic feeling that just grabs you," said Karpel, who has written on the film industry for Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times.

Bigelow studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in the mid-1970s, but soon after made the switch to film and graduated from Columbia University's film program.