A director of both theater and film, Mirra Bank
has supported the National Board of Review
as a member of the Board of Directors for 13 years.
Raised in Rye, New York, Bank was a painter and graphic artist during her college years, which led to an interest in photography and then film.
Bank went to the London School of Film Technique briefly, then worked in London in film editing before returning to start her career in New York City.
While working as an editor at Channel 13
first film, Yudie , about her
aunt who was born and raised on the Lower East Side.
It went to the New York Film Festival and from then on, Bank worked as a director.
"My first feature was Enormous Changes ," she
"It was based on three stories by NYC writer Grace Paley, with a screenplay by John Sayles.
We shot it on a shoestring budget in Hell's Kitchen and the East Village.
The film, which starred Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, and David Strathairn premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1983 and went on to a critically praised theatrical release.
It was in preparing to make Enormous Changes that Bank
got involved in theater work.
"I wanted to understand how best to collaborate with actors and to support their craft as a director.
Some of her
many stage credits include: Colette in Love starring Shirley Knight, Murray Schisgal's Pushcart Peddlers starring Bob Balaban, and the world premiere of Schisgal's Mentors - a trilogy written for and starring Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.
features and documentaries have aired frequently on PBS, including 1995's Nobody's Girls , with Cloris Leachman, Blair Brown and Esther Rolle.
It was the Spring of 2000 when Bank
husband attended a performance by the exuberant modern dance company, Pilobolus
, at the Joyce Theater.
They were blown away by the company's work, and after going backstage to thank the artistic director who had invited them, Bank
asked him what the group's next project was.
said they were about to collaborate with Maurice Sendak on a dark, East European Grimm's Fairytale-like project, likely dealing with the Holocaust," she
" I said, 'that sounds like a movie.'" Ten months of shooting, over a year of editing, and many hours garnering financial support later, the result was Bank's award-winning documentary, Last Dance . The film follows the stormy relationship between Pilobolus
and Sendak, as they create a haunting dance-theater work.
Last Dance has been honored at festivals and screenings across the country and was in consideration for an Academy Award nomination in 2002.
"The most challenging thing about making the film was keeping everyone spiritually and creatively together for almost three years with very little money," she
"But we all committed to the film as an act of faith.
Without that it never would have happened."
is a member of the Actor's Studio
in New York, where she
co-runs the Playwrights & Directors Unit with Academy-Award winning actress Estelle Parsons.
"It's been a privilege to work with the immensely gifted actress and director, who was also Artistic Director of the Actors Studio
for six years," said Bank
also found that being part of the organization has been a terrific learning experience.
"The Studio is unique for the quality of the work of its founders and many current members.
The Studio's commitment to the actor's process and to a vision of theater as a collaborative craft shared among actors, directors and writers is the best way I know of to achieve powerful work."
is now directing the Great Music for a Great City presentation of Franz Schubert's Winterreise with Lynn Redgrave narrating and is also currently in pre-production on Good Behavior , an original screenplay by Richard Brockman.