Kathryn Bigelow began her career as a talented painter and then decided to pursue film studies. She began her directorial career in independent counter-cinema in the 1980s (The Loveless and Near Dark) and then launched a career in mainstream cinema (Blue Steel, Point Break, Strange Days, The Hurt Locker), thus moving from films oppositional to Hollywood cinema to those that have been quite successful Hollywood films. Bigelow is the first woman to win both the Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award for The Hurt Locker (2010). Her recent film, Zero Dark Thirty, has been well-received by critics and movie-goers, earning over $95 million at the US box office. A controversial figure in cinema, Bigelow has been variously praised and vilified for working in genres regarded as male-dominated: war, horror, science fiction, action. Studying the work of this talented director, we will explore the extent to which her early roots in counter cinema shape and inflect her mainstream work, participating in what one critic has called the transformation of Hollywood into a "post-classical cinema machine." This question, in turn, allows us the rare opportunity to explore what, if any, might be the connections between independent counter cinema and mainstream Hollywood films and how these inform our understanding of certain directors as "auteurs." We will also study Bigelow's stunning cinematography and pacing, as well as her talent for transforming and deforming genres, genders, and ideologies, while managing to ensure a mainstream audience.