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Cholodenko, Lisa (b. 1964)  
 
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Cholodenko made her feature-length film debut in 1998 with the well-received and attention-getting High Art.

The film stars Ally Sheedy, in a career-reviving role, as a once-celebrated photographer named Lucy Berliner who has retreated from the art world to live a louche and insulated life with her German, heroin-addicted, former film actress girlfriend, Greta (Patricia Clarkson). Lucy is befriended by her ostensibly heterosexual downstairs neighbor, Syd (Radha Mitchell), an associate editor at a fashionable photography magazine, who hopes to lure Lucy out of retirement. The two women's working relationship, however, soon turns sexual.

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As Janet Maslin observed in her review of the film for the New York Times, "Syd's professional seduction of Lucy is complicated by Lucy's sexual gamesmanship with Syd."

The film had its premiere at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where Cholodenko won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, which recognizes outstanding screenwriting. High Art also won the Jury Special Prize at the 1998 Deauville, France Film Festival and was named Outstanding Film at the 1999 GLAAD Media Awards.

For her work on the film, Ally Sheedy was named Best Actress at the 1998 Los Angles Film Critics Association Awards and the 1999 National Society of Film Critics Awards, as well as Best Female Lead at the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards.

Cholodenko's second feature film, Laurel Canyon (2002), revolves around Jane Bentley (Frances McDormand), a freewheeling and world-renowned record producer, her angry and defensive grown son Sam (Christian Bale), and his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), a research scientist.

Sam, a recently graduated psychiatrist, is about to begin his residency at a Los Angeles hospital, and the couple plans to stay in Jane's vacant house in the bohemian L.A. enclave known as Laurel Canyon, which was also famous in the 1960s and 1970s as the home of many rock musicians, while Alex completes her dissertation on the mating habits of the fruit fly. However, at the last minute, Jane decides to stay in her Laurel Canyon home instead of moving to her beach house as originally planned.

Jane is completing an album in her home studio with a British rock band, and has become sexually involved with the band's lusty lead singer Ian (Alessandro Nivola), who is roughly the same age as her son. While Sam is at work in the hospital (and increasingly forming an intense bond with a second-year resident played by Natascha McElhone), Alex is at first annoyed by, but nevertheless inexorably drawn to, the hedonistic world swirling around her, which includes an impromptu naked late-night swim with Jane and Ian, and culminates in exchanged kisses with her future mother-in-law.

Cholodenko won the Dorothy Arzner Prize, which rewards outstanding direction of a film, at the 2003 Director's View Film Festival in Stamford, Connecticut, for Laurel Canyon, and both McDormand and Nivola were nominated for 2004 Independent Spirit Awards for their roles in the film.

While working on Laurel Canyon, Cholodenko met her current partner, Wendy Melvoin, a musician who is perhaps best known for her work with Prince in the 1980s and as one-half of the duo Wendy & Lisa with her former girlfriend, Lisa Coleman.

In an interview with The Observer, Cholodenko explained that Melvoin contacted her because she and Coleman wanted to work on the score for Laurel Canyon. "They kept calling me," Cholodenko remembered. "They were relentless. I was like, leave me alone! I had no recollection of them, except as these girls . . . dancing behind Prince."

But eventually Cholodenko met with the two women, and although nothing came of the meeting professionally, she found herself attracted to Melvoin. The two women traded telephone numbers, but Cholodenko did not follow up, believing that Melvoin was still in a relationship with Coleman.

Several years later, when Cholodenko moved from New York back to Los Angeles, she found Melvoin's phone number and thought, "I should call those nice lesbians. That might make me feel better."

"So I called," Cholodenko continued, "and [Melvoin] came alone to pick me up for dinner and that was kind of it. We got together pretty quickly."

In 2005, Cholodenko and Melvoin decided to have a child. As Cholodenko explained, "We were unsure if we were going to do it with a friend or with an anonymous person, and what did that mean for us and for the kid. . . . There was a certain amount of hand wringing over it."

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