The daughter of Sicilian and Argentine immigrants, writer-director Nancy Savoca graduated from the film school at New York University where she received the Haig P. Manoogian Award for overall excellence for her short films "Renata" and "Bad Timing." Her earliest professional experience came as an assistant auditor on two Jonathan Demme-directed pictures ("Something Wild" 1986, "Married to the Mob" 1988) and as a production assistant to John Sayles ("Brother From Another Planet" 1984). Sayles, in turn, provided funding for her feature directing and co-screenwriting debut, "True Love" (1989), an incisive comedy about Italian-American courtship and marriage rituals in the Bronx. Hailed by both Janet Maslin and Vincent Canby of THE NEW YORK TIMES as one of the best films of the year, "True Love" subsequently was purchased and released by MGM-UA and its accompanying soundtrack on RCA records boasted two Top 40 hits on the BILLBOARD charts. Its success enabled Savoca to make her only Hollywood film to date, "Dogfight" (1991), although she has taken all her projects to the studios first before going the independent route. Filmed for $8 million (eight times the budget of "True Love"), "Dogfight" told the story of a young Vietnam-bound soldier (River Phoenix) and the wallflower waitress (Lili Taylor) whom he takes to a mean-spirited contest for the ugliest date. The film received favorable reviews but a poor box-office reception but further demonstrated the director's flair and facility with actors.