Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read Merin's recent articles below. For her complete archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).

 

Articles by Jennifer Merin

 

A LEAF OF FAITH — Review by Jennifer Merin

a leaf of faith posterIn A Leaf of Faith, filmmaker Chris Bell, best known for Bigger Stronger Faster about steroid ‘doping,’ pursues his ongoing concerns about drug issues by focusing on crippling, death dealing addiction to opioid painkillers. Having reached epidemic proportions, opioid dependecy — ranging from heroin addiction and overdose to synthetic opioid abuse while withdrawing from heroin and the prescription of opoids to relieve chronic pain — is currently among the top causes of death in the U.S. The stats are staggering. In his compelling investigation, Bell introduces and advocates for a possible solution — the use of Kratom as an alternative.
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HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD — Review by Jennifer Merin

hitler's hollywood posterFilmmaker Rudiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood is a compilation documentary that uses clips from films produced during the Nazi regime to show how the movies were used to indoctrinate the masses and influence their behavior. Subtitled German Cinema in the Age of Propaganda: 1933-45, the film is more analysis than homage, presenting a fascinating profile of how Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels used cinema to creates positive stereotypes and present mythic illusions about current and historic events that influenced the zeitgeist. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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CORMAN’S WORLD: EXPLOITS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL (2011) — Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

corman posterIf you have any interest in Hollywood history and love Tinsel Town lore, this comprehensive biodoc about the life and career of Roger Corman, the legendary ‘King of B-movies,’ will entertain and fascinate you — even if you’re not a big fan of the B-movie genre. Roger Corman, now in his 80s, and his wife and career-long producing partner, Julie Corman, rank high on the list of the world’s most prolific movie makers. They’ve produced and released as many as nine feature films during the course of one year, and only very few of their projects have failed to turn a profit at the box office. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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FOR WOMEN IN FILM, 2017 PRODUCED A BLOOM OF OPTIMISM ON THE HORIZON — Jennifer Merin comments

Annual stats tracking women’s work in the film industry consistently indicate that production gatekeepers are slow to welcome the work of female filmmakers, despite the recent successes of studio-backed femme-helmed and femme-centric blockbusters, and the ongoing inclusion initiatives of feminist groups such as the Alliance of Women Filmmakers and Film Fatales. However, despite the dismally static stats, AWFJ found an encouraging rise in the number of femme-centric and femme-helmed films released theatrically during 2017. Out of the 52 films we selected for #MOTW endorsement, 38 were directed by women. And, that number is even more impressive when you consider that for five of the year’s 52 weeks, we found no releasing films that met AWFJ standards for endorsement Continue reading…

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Chapman and Maclain Way talk WILD WILD COUNTRY, Bhagwan and Ma Anan Sheela — Jennifer Merin interviews

wild wild country posterThe Way Brothers’ six-part documentary, Wild Wild Country, chronicles the strange saga of self-proclaimed spiritual leader Bhagwan and his devotees, as they created a self-sustaining Utopian community in rural Oregon during the 1980s. Resenting their presence, local citizens and authorities pressured them to leave. Confrontations intensified, resulting in chaos and crime. Wild Wild Country is comprised of previously unseen archival footage shot inside the compound during the community’s heyday, intercut with on camera commentaries by surviving devotees and townees. The series is fascinating. So are the Brothers Way, who discuss making the documentary and their own conclusions about what this slice of history implies for American lifestyle and justice. Listen to my interview on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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NICKY’S FAMILY (2013) — Retroview by Jennifer Merin

nicky's family poster artIn Nicky’s Family, filmmakers Matej Minac and Patrik Pass use reenactment and impressive archival footage to tell the story of Sir Nicholas Winton’s amazing mission to save children from certain extinction in Nazi death camps. The filmmakers interviewed many of the children (now senior citizens) who were saved, and their descendants – all of whom consider themselves to be Winton’s family. Those who’ve been found and counted number about 6,000 souls. The film introduces many of them, letting us know what they’ve accomplished, including important scientific discoveries and social progress that might never have happened had the children not been rescued. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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LA CHANA — Review by Jennifer Merin

la chana posterCapturing all of the passion and personal expression that permeates flamenco and illuminates the dance form’s most engaging performers, Lucija Stojevic’s La Chana profiles the career and artistry of Antonia Santiago Amador, the hugely popular flamenco goddess revered by dance afficiandos for her force of nature spirit and extraordinary footwork. The great La Chana’s career peaked during the late 1960s, just before she inexplicably shunned her celebrity and mysteriously vanished from the dance world. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 9, 2018: CLAIRE’S CAMERA

motw logo 1-35Claire’s Camera is Cannes-centric. South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo set his quirky character-driven, genre-defying drama in the sun-drenched seaside resort town as the festival is taking place, but never visits the event’s star-studded glamour or industry hustle — both of which actually surrounded the film’s premiere at the festival in 2017. And, since the story is about friendship between two women, Claire’s Camera is femme-centric, too. Continue reading…

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AWFJ’s Women’s History Month Movies Watch List

Celebrate Women’s History Month by watching women-centric films that illuminate, educate and entertain. AWFJ’s curated list of films to watch during Women’s History Month ranges from mirth-filled comedies to truth-based stories of feminist activism, from gal pal road trip scenarios and inspiring biopics to exposes of the heinous evils of sexism and racism. The wide range of recommended films have one thing in common: they are all about women and they respectfully represent women’s perspectives on the social and political issues that we all face in daily life. Each film is a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come — and how much further we need to go. Women’s History Month has 31 days. We list 35 films, figuring that you might enjoy watching a feminist double bill on the weekend or your day off. Continue reading…

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AWFJ’s 2018 Oscar Predictions For Winners in Seven Categories

oscars goldOur impromptu poll is neither mandatory nor universal, and the AWFJ members who’ve sent in their 2018 Oscars predictions have very varied opinions about which nominees will prevail on this year’s golden day. They’ve also specified that these are their predictions, the nominees they think will win, but not necessarily those they hope will win. Their predictions in seven categories are listed on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER. But, the tally of their ballots indicates AWFJ’s predictions for the winners in the 2018 Oscars race. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 23, 2018: HALF MAGIC

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Heather Graham’s directorial debut, Half Magic, is completely femme-centric, but it won’t pass the Bechdel Test. Yes, the comedy focuses on three women who have viable careers and who talk to each other frequently — but almost all of their conversation is about men and sex. More specifically, about how to hook up with nicer men and have better sex. Continue reading…

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From The AWFJ Archive: MoMA’s Sally Potter Retrospective – Jennifer Merin comments

Let’s praise Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curator Sally Berger for putting together a remarkable and well-deserved retrospective (July 7 to 24) of the films and video of Sally Potter, the brilliant British feminist moviemaker with a genuinely unique and fascinating vision.
Potter‘s films are never easy escapes, and she’s often had mixed reviews, but as director, writer, actress, dancer, choreographer and composer, Potter is a rare entity: the complete cinematic artist. She invites you to profound emotional insights and transports you to uncharted realms of imagination and intellect. Continue reading…

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2017 AWFJ EDA Awards: The Winners

The women of AWFJ have voted!

shape of water 3The Shape of Water is the big winner in this year’s 1th annual AWFJ EDA Awards, garnering awards for Best Film, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro and Bravest Performance for Sally Hawkins. AWFJ voters show love for Greta Gerwig with EDA’s for Best Female Director and Best Female Screenwriter for Lady Bird, with Laurie Metcalf winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in Lady Bird. EDAs went to a diverse array of talents in 19 additional categories, including Actress Most in Need of a New Agent and the coveted AWFJ Hall of Shame Award. For the full list, Continue reading…

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Announcing the 2017 AWFJ EDA Awards Nominees

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists is delighted to announce the nominees for the 2017 AWFJ EDA Awards in 25 categories ranging from the standards such as ‘Best Film,”Best Cinematographer,’ and ‘Best Actress’ to our own gender-focused and sometimes somewhat snarky slots, including ‘Actress Best Defying Age and Ageism’ and ‘Actress Most in Need of A New Agent.’ The annual EDA Awards, now in their eleventh season, reflect women’s perspectives on film, and recognize excellent work in cinema, in front of and behind the camera, with a particular focus on work done by and about women. For the list of nominees, Continue reading…

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Women Receive Two of Three Filmmaker Grants from the Independent Spirit Awards

Film Independent announced the winners of its five Spirit Awards filmmaker grants at its annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch held in West Hollywood on Janaury 6. John Cho (Star Trek, Columbus, Search) and Alia Shawkat (Search Party, Blaze, Duck Butter) co-hosted the event and handed out the honors. There’s quite a lot of money involved! Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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AWFJ Welcomes Ten New Members in 2018

At the beginning of each year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists invites several women to join our organization. In 2018, we are delighted to welcome a diverse group of nine outstanding women film journalists to our organization. Please visit their AWFJ Member Pages and Archives to get to know each of them and sample their work. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 29: Best Female Characters of 2017

motw logo 1-35With thanks to all of the movie industry women and men who’ve birthed them and brought them into our consciousness, Team #MOTW focuses attention on some of the brilliant female characters who’ve joined our pantheon of feminist film goddesses during 2017. A legion of strong, complex, and compelling fictional, truth-based and real life women have shared their struggles, aspirations and accomplishments with us. Their various stories represent every aspect of feminist activism for equality and justice. They give us insight, strength and inspiration. Browse our #MOTW roster for an overview of this year’s list of great female characters, and for Team #MOTW favorites, continue reading….

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 22: HO HO HOLIDAY VIEWING

motw logo 1-35This year’s MOTW roster has been dominated by films that present stories about every aspect of women’s struggles for equality and about other serious social issues that demand our attention. But late December is a good time for a bit of seasonal levity. And so we present for your enjoyment Team MOTW’s wonderfully varied list of recommended films for ho ho holiday viewing. The #MOTW roster features romance, comedy, thrills and lots of food. The films are upbeat, inspiring and spirited, although not all directly connected to traditional celebrations. Wonder what’s in store? Continue reading…

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AWFJ 2017 EDA Awards: Timeline and Categories

eda award cert blankThe Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ presents annual EDA Awards to recognize excellent work by and about women, in front of and behind the camera. 2017 marks the EDA Awards’ tenth anniversary. AWFJ presents three types of year-end awards. Standard “Best of” and “Female Focus” categories are presented annually, while “Special Mention” categories vary each year in response to the year’s crop of films, and usually include Actress Most In Need of a New Agent, Best Nudity and similar categories unique to the year end AWFJ EDA Awards. Continue reading...

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Whistler Film Festival Women on Top Summit Keynote Address — Valerie Creighton (Guest Post)

valerie-creightonThe Minister of Canadian Heritage recently announced Creative Canada, a new approach to support creativity and content making in the country. A critical piece of her announcement was the increase in federal contributions to the Canada Media Fund in 2018/2019. While this is not new money, it will offset the gap from declining cable, and direct to home revenue created by cord-cutting and cord-shaving. It was a huge accomplishment for a Cabinet Minister to achieve this commitment and announce it prior to the upcoming budget year. Anyone involved in the making of content in this country that access’s the Canada Media Fund has something to celebrate in that achievement. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival: The Winners – Jennifer Merin reports

whistler logo 2017Whistler Film Festival continues to stand out as an especially female friendly environment for filmmakers, with intensive programs for collegial networking, productive mentorships and the spirit-raising Women on Top Summit. And, AWFJ recognizes the superb women’s programming with presentation of EDA Awards for female-directed films. Continue reading…

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Women Filmmakers Rise to the Top at Whistler Film Festival 2017 — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler logo 2017At a time when the call for gender parity is more prevalent than ever, the Whistler Film Festival 2017, taking placed from November 29 to December 3, will screen 14 feature films and 16 short films directed by women, which makes up 30% of this year’s film programming, the highest percentage for the festival to date. Continue reading…

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IDFA 2017: The Female Gaze is Gone — Jennifer Merin reports

idfa 2017 ;ogoInternational Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, otherwise known as IDFA, has accomplished during the decades since it was co-founded by Ally Derks, who is rightly revered in the documentary film realm. But Ally Derks has moved on, and IDFA is changing its outlook. This year, the festival dropped its The Female Gaze program and is, apparently, no longer focusing on ongoing issues of gender parity faced by the international community of women filmmakers. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival: Feature and Shorts Nominees Announced — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler logo 2017The Alliance of Women Film Journalists and Whistler Film Festival are proud to announce the nominees for two AWFJ EDA Awards to be presented at the 2017 festival. This is the fourth consecutive year of the partnership between Whistler Film Festival and AWFJ to honor films directed by women. Whistler Film Festival nominates films for consideration. Juries are comprised of AWFJ members. The winners will be announced and the EDA Awards will be presented at the festival’s awards ceremony on December 3, 2017. Continue reading…

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Claire Ferguson Talks Storytelling, Trauma and Team Work in DESTINATION UNKNOWN –Jennifer Merin interviews

Claire FergusonIn Destination Unknown, British documentary filmmaker Claire Ferguson’s interviews with Holocaust survivors captures on film the most intimate and painful memories of traumas experienced in the Nazi death camps and the ongoing suffering they have caused throughout the victims’ lives. The survivors’ vivid descriptions are supported by archival footage. The combination of current testimony from surviving elders with images of what they lived through is absolutely devastating. Destination Unknown is an important addition to the canon of Holocaust films. Read what filmmaker Claire Ferguson has to say about making the film and the responsibilities of documentary filmmakers. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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