A photographer, animator, and writer as well as a director, Kimberly Peirce made her mark in the film industry with her passionate version of a true-life tragedy, Boys Don't Cry (1999).
Originally from Harrisburg, PA, Peirce also lived in Miami and Puerto Rico before heading off to college at the University of Chicago. Majoring in English and Japanese literature, Peirce subsequently spent two years in Kobe, Japan, doing photography. Merging her interests in storytelling and images, Peirce returned to the U.S. and enrolled in the graduate film program at Columbia University. While in grad school, Peirce became transfixed by the well-publicized rape and murder of Brandon Teena, a young woman living as a man in Falls City, NE. Peirce headed to Nebraska during the trials of the two men eventually convicted of the brutal crime, and befriended a court reporter who helped Peirce gain access to court documents. Fascinated by Brandon's courage and imagination in re-creating his identity in such a conservative environment, and Lana Tisdel, the woman who loved him, Peirce made the story the subject of her thesis film for Columbia.