Sandra Goldbacher grew up outside London in the Hampstead Garden Suburb, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Her mother converted to Judaism when she was one and Goldbacher received a reform Jewish upbringing. She went to college at Sussex University in the seaside tourist town of Brighton and after studying French Literature for three years, Goldbacher, as many young people often do, had a complete change of heart and realized she wanted to be a filmmaker.
Once she made the decision to pursue a career in directing, Goldbacher wasted little time going after her dream. After she graduated from Sussex in the early 1980's, Goldbacher took a year-long course studying film and video at Middlesex University. She soon landed a job making documentaries for the BBC, working on an architecture series called "Building Sights." She also produced two documentaries for Channel 4 about boxing. Goldbacher took quickly to the work of directing television shows and moved into directing commercials. She was equally successful doing adverts and directed spots for such big names as Bailey's, Evian and Philips.
Though she was a successful documentarian and commercial director, Goldbacher had more creative goals. She was saving money to produce her own short films and finally got financing for a short for BBC2's series "Short and Curlies." Her grant was for 80,000 pounds and the film she made was called "Seventeen." Her short was well-received by the independent film world and won the Silver Plaque at the International Chicago Film Festival.
During this time, Goldbacher was also writing what would become her second feature "Me Without You." Goldbacher worked for seven years writing the story of an intense female friendship and how that intensity affects the friends as they grow older. However, Goldbacher first received financing to make the 1998 film "The Governess." Based on a series of journals Goldbacher wrote from the vantage point of a 19th century Jewish girl, the film starred Minnie Driver and won Goldbacher international attention. Though initially Goldbacher found financing for "Me Without You" difficult, she eventually procured funding and set out to make the film she had been working on for so long. Michelle Williams and Anna Friel were cast as the lead characters growing up with one another throughout the the 1970s and 80s. It premiered at the London Film Festival in 2001 and received a considerable amount of buzz, being called a "delicious bittersweet comedy." Goldbacher had hit a nerve with her exploration of an overlooked facet of many women's lives: the power and dimension of the adolescent female bond. The story of the film is loosely biographical, based on a friendship Goldbacher had with neighbor while she was growing up. Though Goldbacher and her friend grew apart, she wanted to explore what would have happened if the volatile and at times suffocating relationship had continued.
Goldbacher's acute portrayal of the complexities of adolescent female friendship rang true on the screen and the praise of the film spread from the festival circuit to the larger audiences of commercial theaters. The film was noted for its intimate drawing of the girls' dynamic and its illustration of the way a friendship can be intoxicatingly intimate, while at the same time bitterly dysfunctional. After a popular run in Britain, "Me Without You" came to the U.S. in the summer of 2002. The film was equally well-received in America and Goldbacher quickly set out to begin working on two new projects, an adaptation of Emile Zola's novel "Nana," set in 19th century Paris and an untitled film about witchcraft. As she grows as a director, taking on increasingly lofty projects, this dedicated and diverse filmmaker is sure to make her own mark on the independent film world.