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

 

National Film Board of Canada aims for gender parity by 2020 — Jennifer Merin reports

nfblogoGovernment Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson Claude Joli-Coeur announced that the NFB is aiming to achieve gender parity (50 percent) in key creative positions for animated, documentary and interactive works in production as of 2020. The initiative targets editing, cinematography, screenwriting and music composition and includes key creative positions related to animation and immersive/interactive storytelling, where women are decidedly in the minority—positions such as art director, art designer and creative technologist. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

SPOTLIGHT March 2017: Amy Hobby, Feminist Film Producer and Activist

awfjspotlightsmallsmallLast year, during one of Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca Talks, Jodie Foster famously commented that women who’ve maneuvered their way into the upper echelons of the Hollywood hierarchy have not been particularly helpful to women working behind the lens.

amy hobby head 1But Tribeca Film Institute’s recently anointed Executive Director Amy Hobby disagrees. While acknowledging some validity in Foster’s statement and noting that statistics continue to show dismal gender disparity in the movie industry, Hobby claims that the scene is changing.

Take note: Amy Hobby is in the know, and she’s in a position where she can actually make it so. Read on…

read more

Oscars 2017: A Compendium of AWFJ Members’ Views — Jennifer Merin reports

oscar trophyOur goal is to present a compendium of AWFJ members’ perspectives on Oscars 2017. Not surprisingly, the views vary widely from utter enthusiasm to complete dismay, with mix of meh in between. Quite a few of our members opted out of the project, claiming awards burn out, indicating frustrations with the Academy’s new press procedures and/or stating that this year’s entire awards campaign and media buildup was either too political or not political enough. Read what Jeanne Wolf, Susan Wloszczyna, Moira Sullivan, Diana Saenger, Sheila Roberts, Nell Minow, Brandy McDonnell, Michelle McCue, Karen Martin, Kimberly Lindbergs, Leba Hertz, Candice Frederick, Marilyn Ferdinand, Chaz Ebert, Katherine Brodsky, Liz Braun, Betsy Bozdech and Erica Abeel have to say about Oscar 2017 on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER…

read more

On Making SEEING IS BELIEVING: WOMEN DIRECT – Guest Post by Filmmaker Cady McClain

cady mcclain headshotCady McClain has been speaking to female directors, chronicling their stories for her serialized documentary, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct. Interviewees include Sarah Gavron, Lee Grant, Meera Menon, Betty Thomas and other accomplished directors, as well as next generation women filmmakers just blazing career paths. Not yet ready for release, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct elucidates skills needed to succeed as a woman director; women mentor women by sharing their experiences via filmed interviews. Here, McClain writes about her filmmaking process, why she’s making this documentary and what she’s learning from doing so. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

AWFJ on KTEP 88.5 FM: Talking EDA Awards, Oscars, and the Status of Women In Film — Jennifer Merin reports

KTEP 88.5 FM’s ON FILM host Charles Horak discusses The Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ annual and festival EDA Awards recognizing the work and contributions done by women and about women, both in front and behind the camera, points to the decreased level of opportunity for women behind the camera in 2016, and elicits a list of must-see undervalued 2016 films by and about women. Thank you, Charles Horak for your ongoing support of AWFJ and our goals. Listen to the program on KTEP 88.5 FM.

read more

AWFJ Welcomes New Members for 2017

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists receives applications for membership throughout the year, and invites several applicants to join the organization at the beginning of each year. For 2017, we have invited eight exceptional, enthusiastic and dedicated film journalists to become AWFJ members. We Welcome them to the organization and look forward to collaborating with them on AWFJ projects that will advance the cause of gender parity and diversity on screen, behind the lens and in film media and journalism. To meet our new members, read on…

read more

It’s a Wrap: AWFJ Looks Back at 2016

AWFJ is completing our tenth anniversary year, and it’s time to take stock and evolve. What has our organization accomplished during 2016, and what are our goals for 2017. But as we look back to evaluate our accomplishments and before we set forth plans for a new year filled with worthwhile projects, let’s pause for a moment to give due credit to the AWFJ members who’ve contributed their ideas, time and energy to make our 2016 programs and enterprises so successful. Well done! And here’s round of applause and a virtual pat on the back to each of you in recognition of your collegiality and activism. Now on to the nitty gritty about what AWFJ has done curing 2016, with shout outs to individual members who helmed projects and made them happen. Read on…

read more

MOONLIGHT Tops AWFJ EDA Award Winners 2016

moonlight-posterThe women of AWFJ have voted!

Moonlight is the big winner in this year’s tenth annual AWFJ EDA Awards, garnering awards in seven categories. AWFJ voters show love for esteemed director/activist Ava DuVernay with three EDAs. Manchester By The Sea won two. EDAs went to a diverse array of talents in 13 additional categories, including Bravest Performance, Actress Most in Need of a New Agent and the coveted AWFJ Hall of Shame Award. Read on…

read more

2016 AWFJ EDA Award Nominees

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2016 AWFJ EDA Awards. In our 10th annual awards season, we present EDA Awards in 25 categories divided into three sections, the BEST OF AWARDS, FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS AND EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS. Nominees in each category are determined by AWFJ members who submit nominating ballots. There are currently 76 voting AWFJ members. The full membership list is accessible here. And the 2016 nominees are: Read on…

read more

Whistler Film Festival 2016: Feminism Soars – Jennifer Merin reports

whistler-2016The 16th annual Whistler Film Festival has drawn to a close after five days packed with film screenings, a full house of filmmaker labs and pitch sessions, parties and power skiing. Parity for women is a cause that’s fully embraced by festival director Shauna Hardy Mishaw, who has established partnerships with female focused organizations to train, mentor and promote women directors and producers at the festival. Additionally, femme-helmed films scored big in award wins. Read more>>

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2016: The Winners — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler-2016For the fourth consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists was at Whistler Film Festival to present AWFJ EDA Awards to female filmmakers for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and Best Female-Directed Documentary. The winners were announced on December 4 at the festival’s awards ceremony at the Maury Young Arts Center. Read on…

read more

Women on Top Summit @ Whistler Film Festival: Keynote Address by Valerie Creighton, Canadian Media Fund

valerie-creightonAt Whistler Film Festival’s spirited Women on Top Summit (held December 3, atop Whistler Mountain), Canada Media Fund’s president and CEO Valerie Creighton affirmed and underscored Canada’s commitment to reach parity for women working in all aspects of the country’s moving image industries. Creighton’s speech provides comprehensive coverage of status and strategies re Canada reaching the goal of gender parity. The entire address is published on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

AWFJ to Present EDA Awards at Whistler Film Festival — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler-2016This is the fourth consecutive year in which the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has the honor to partner with Whistler Film Festival to recognize women filmmakers with presentation of EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Feature Film and Best Female-Directed Documentary at this year’s festival, held in Whistler from November 30 to December 4, 2016. Whistler Film Festival nominates narrative features and documentaries for consideration. Selected by AWFJ jurors, the winners will be announced on December 4, at the Whistler Film Festival Awards Ceremony. Read on…

read more

Maite Alberdi Wins IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for THE GROWN UPS

idfa-2016For the third consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. At a ceremony hosted by Chile Docs and held on November 22, IDFA director Ally Derks introduced AWFJ jurors Jennifer Merin and Dorothy Woodend who were attending the festival, and they in turn announced winner of the award and the cash prize of 2,500 Euros. The winner of the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed film is The Grown Ups, directed by Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi. Read more…

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Asli Ozarslan on DIL LEYLA

asli-ozarslanAsli Özarslan’s Dil Leyla is the story of Imret Leyla, mayor of Cizre, a Kurdish town in Turkey. At age 26, she’s the youngest mayor in Turkey. Having left Cizre for Germany at age five, after her father, a Kurdish guerilla, was killed, she returns to help rebuild her town. Political tensions rise as Turkey’s national elections near. In profiling Leyla’s struggle, Özarslan calls forth contemplation of Turkey’s political climate and of women’s influence in bettering the outlook. Read Özarslan’s interview about the film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Areum Parkkang on AREUM

areum-parkkangIn her first documentary feature, South Korean teacher and filmmaker Areum Parkkang takes a look at her own difficulties in finding a boyfriend. When her numerous blind dates don’t lead anywhere, she asks her students for their advise. They tell her that it is her appearance that is off putting. They advise her to make herself more attractive by slimming down, dressing up in a more feminine way, and wearing makeup. Read her interview on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Maite Alberdi on THE GROWN-UPS

maite-alberdi-300x200Chilean documentarian Maite Alberdi’s uniquely intimate observational style give us an up close and personal glimpse into the world of four adults with Down syndrome, all of whom struggle to live more independently in a social structure that has confined them for 40 plus years in a special education school where they’ve been trained and mow work. In a most humane and compassionate way, the film embraces the dreams and frailties of its leading characters and exposes the ways in which socially conscious compassion and the need for expediency conflict in impacting the lives of people who don’t fit social ‘norms.’ Read Alberdi’s comments on making the filming The Grown Ups and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

read more

EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Coco Schrijber on HOW TO MEET A MERMAID

cococroppedsmallDutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber’s highly cinematic style and essay-like approach to filmmaking transforms her personal quest for resolution about her brother’s downing suicide into a profound contemplation of life-sustaining and death-dealing aspects of the sea. She evokes the unsolved mystery of Rebecca, a cruise ship employee who disappeared while her ship was at sea and the story of a Mexican surfer who is flying across the ocean to find more challenging waves on other shores to broaden her narrative. Read what Coco Schrijber has to say about the film and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

read more

THE END OF AMERICA — Retroview by Jennifer Merin

end-of-america-posterBased on Naomi Wolf’s eponymous book, The End Of America presents the ten step blueprint that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms. It compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States in recent years. Directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, the documentary is convincing and alarming. The film released theatrically in 2008. It is now available on DVD. It is still highly relevant. It should be required viewing for anyone old enough to vote or join the army. Read my full review on CINEMA CITIZEN.

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob on VENUS

mettecarla-and-lea-cropped-300x216Danish filmmakers Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob explore the subject of young women’s sexuality by setting up an open ‘casting call’ at which they interview the film’s subjects about their sexual experiences and attitudes towards sexuality and their bodies as they develop from adolescence to womanhood. Through this compilation of interviews, the filmmakers contemplate their own attitudes towards sex, and offer the opportunity for women who see the film to do as, as well. Read what they have to say about Venus and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Lucija Stojevic on LA CHANA

lucija-stojevic-smallLucija Stojevic’s La Chana profiles the career and artistry of Antonia Santiago Amador, the hugely popular flamenco dancer, revered by dance afficiandos for her passionate spirit and extraordinary footwork. Her career peaked during the late 1960s, before she inexplicably vanished from the dance world and celebrity. Stojevic delves into Amador’s complex personality by intertwining spectacular footage of her emotional performances with current footage of her quiet live in Barcelona, coaching talented young dancers and preparing a comeback recital — and revealing, for the first time, why she stepped out of the spotlight at the height of her career. La Chana is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film. Read Lucija Stojevic’s comments about La Chana on THE FEMALE GAZE.

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Elvira Diaz on EL PATIO

elvira-diazFilmmaker Elvira Diaz was born in 1975 in France, after her father fled from Chile as a political refugee. El Patio is her third documentary about the consequences of Pinochet’s dictatorship on witnesses and victims’ lives. In the film, she follows aging gravediggers as they reveal, for the first time, their haunting memories of surreptitiously burying ‘disappeared persons’ during the dark days of the Pinochet regime. The film is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award of 2,500 Euros. Read Diaz’s comments about making the film on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Alice Schmid on THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ANZI

alice-schmid-headshotAlice Schmid, filmmaker and novelist, tells stories from around the globe, mostly focusing on children. The Girl Down Lock Anzi, nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award, is set in rural Switzerland, where 12- year-old Laura is fascinated by and works up the courage to explore a legend about a maiden who is supposedly imprisoned in caves close to her family’s farm. The film is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award of 2,500 Euros. Alice Schmid comments about making the film and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

SURVIVING PROGRESS — Retroview by Jennifer Merin

surviving-progress-posterBased on Ronald Wright’s insightful nonfiction book, A Short History of Progress, this compelling thesis documentary presents convincing arguments that technology if not used appropriately and in moderation can lead to adverse conditions and the collapse of civilization — if not the actual demise of humankind. Surviving Progress leads us to examine the notion that progress is, indeed, progress — that is to say helpful to humankind. In our age of increasingly rapid technological advances, this discussion is timely. It is, indeed, a vital necessity. Released theatrically in 2011, Surviving Progress is now available on DVD. Read my review on CINEMA CITIZEN

read more

Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2016 — Jennifer Merin reports

ccdaAs proof positive of the trending interest in nonfiction film, the first-ever Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA) were presented on November 3, 2016, at a gala event attended by leading documentary filmmakers, distributors and film critics. Presented by the BFCA and BTJA, the critics organizations behind the annual Critics Choice Movie Awards (to be presented on December 11), the documentary awards covered nonfiction films with theatrical releases and those shown on television or via online streaming. The CCDAs are the first awards given in recognition of the various genres of documentary film by critics. Read more…

read more