Writer, producer, and director Sarah Kernochan first made her mark on the cinema with Marjoe, her Oscar-winning 1972 documentary about B-movie actor and evangelist Marjoe Gortner. A 1968 graduate of Sarah Lawrence University, Kernochan got her start as a ghostwriter for the Village Voice, but she tired of journalism after a year and moved toward documentary filmmaking. Following Marjoe, she switched gears again, recording two albums as a singer-songwriter.
After publishing two novels and working for a time as a playwright, Kernochan began pursuing a career as a Hollywood screenwriter. In 1986, she earned a certain dose of infamy as the screenwriter for Adrian Lyne's controversial 9 1/2 Weeks, and she subsequently went on to write over 15 more screenplays. Included amongst them were the Jodie Foster/Richard Gere romantic drama Sommersby (1993) and Impromptu (1990), a 19th century comedy of manners that starred Judy Davis and Hugh Grant and was directed by her husband, James Lapine.
In 1998, Kernochan directed her first non-documentary feature, Strike! A semi-autobiographical story about a group of friends at an all-girls boarding school in the 1960s, it starred Lynn Redgrave, Kirstin Dunst, Gaby Hoffmann, and Heather Matarazzo.