Ann Hui and OUR TIME WILL COME — Marilyn Ferdinand comments

At a time when the outlook for women working in Hollywood appears just as bleak as ever, it’s wonderful to note that directors like Ann Hui are still working at or near the top of their game. Hui, 70, is a highly acclaimed Chinese filmmaker who is associated with the Hong Kong New Wave that includes Tsui Hark, John Woo, and Wong Kar-wai. Hui has 31 directing credits, including one of the best treatments of aging I have ever seen, A Simple Life (2011). She has told a variety of stories over her career, but her signature strength is the sympathy and meticulous detail she brings to her observations of ordinary people, especially as her desire to work on socially conscious projects has grown. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood’s sexist ways and box-office prospects — Brandy McDonnell comments

It’s been a lackluster summer at the domestic box office, and it may just be that Hollywood’s failure to adapt to the reality that women moviegoers want to see more movies starring women that has at least in part caused this summer’s blahs. Warner Bros. Pictures, however, reached a rare milestone this weekend by exceeding the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office. The studio owes a lot of its 2017 success to the superheroic performance of Wonder Woman, which surpassed Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” to become the summer’s highest-grossing film with $389 million. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Chicago Documentary Program Empowers Female Filmmakers — Chaz Ebert reports

chaz filmmakers croppedFew programs inspire me more than those committed to empowering the voices of future filmmakers, and especially those that empower the voices of female filmmakers. That is the goal of the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) Program in Documentary Filmmaking. Held during the summer at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts, this five-week program is designed for female high school students living in Chicago’s CHA housing. The program prepares young women to become future documentarians by instructing them on everything from aesthetics to technical skills. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 21-28: 500 YEARS

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500 Years is the third film in director Pamela Yates’ trilogy about Guatemala. Expansive in its coverage, and impassioned about its subject, the film is very much a classic social justice documentary, right down to the final scenes of enormous crowds thronging the city streets, demanding change. Continue reading…

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In The Muck of It: The Films of Ann Turner — Profile by Alexandra Heller Nicholas

Ann Turner - Photo by Kristian Gehradte

Ann Turner – Photo by Kristian Gehradte

I’m sitting in a small private booth at the Australian Mediatheque at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image, waiting while an old 16mm film is being set up on a vintage Steenbeck for viewing. It feels like the end of a pilgrimage, the last of Australian author, screenwriter and director Ann Turner’s films I left have to see: this is her 1981 student short, Flesh on Glass, made during her time at the Swinburne Film School (soon to become the Victorian College of the Arts). Continue reading…

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Melbourne International Film Festival 2017′s PIONEERING WOMEN Program — Jennifer Merin reports

miff logo 1The success of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014) focused international attention on Australian women filmmakers. Australia’s film feminism is being celebrated this year in special programming at the country’s two major film festivals — in the upcoming Melbourne International Film Festival’s (MIFF, August 3-30, 2017) focus on female-directed films from the 1980s and 90s, and with the just finishing Sydney Film Festival’s (June 7-18, 2017) roster of femme-helmed films from the 1960s and 70s. Continue reading

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Whittaker lands DOCTOR WHO, DuVernay teases WRINKLE and Henson joins WRECK-IT — Brandy McDonnell reports

The 13th Doctor is in, and the iconic science fiction series finally has a female lead. Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th time lord on the long-running Doctor Who series. Ava DuVernay revealed the first trailer for her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time at D23, the Disney fan expo in Anaheim, California. The science fiction thriller also has female leads. Storm Reid stars as Meg, with Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey as supernatural guides on Meg’s inter-dimensional journey to rescue her father. In good casting news, Taraji. P. Henson joins the Wreck-It Ralph sequel and Lily James joins the Mamma Mia! follow-up. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 14-21: THE MIDWIFE

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Two women, one old wound, and a whole lot of wine. Boiled down to its essential ingredients, Martin Provost’s new film The Midwife is diverting enough, filled with small pleasures, and sometimes that is enough. Especially when the two women are so beautifully portrayed by Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Geena Davis, Alicia Silverstone and New Stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

Geena Davis celebrates 25th anniversary of ‘A League of Their Own,’ while Alicia Silverstone reflects on the legacy of ‘Clueless.’ Plus, Jennifer, Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, Carrie Underwood, Kirsten Dunst, Taraji P. Henson and more will get stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE FEMALE GAZE: Pamela Yates talks THE RESISTANCE SAGA, documentary commitment and challenges — Jennifer Merin interviews

pamela yates reelPamela Yates makes documentaries that make a difference. Some 35 years in the making, Yates’ The Resistance Saga, a trilogy about the Mayan people’s human rights struggle in Guatemala, actually helped change the course of history in that country. Footage from the first film became forensic evidence to convict former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt of crimes against humanity. Montt’s trial was covered in the second film, The final film, which updates us while setting the saga within the context of a long history of exploitation, abuse and genocide, opens theatrically on July 12. Read what Pamela Yates says about her career, and the challenges and opportunities inherent in documentary filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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EYE ON MEDIA: Representing Trump — Martha P. Nochimson comments

nochimson trump 1The recent furor about Oskar Eustis’ open air production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in New York City in which Caesar was dressed up to look like Donald Trump and Calpurnia had a Slavic accent started me thinking about the larger issue of imaginatively representing the current occupant of the White House. There is an obvious desire to reflect on the terrible plight of America under the Trump administration through humor and storytelling, and our friends around the world support that inclination. Continue reading on EYE ON MEDIA.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: ‘Wonder Woman’ sets more records, ‘The Beguiled’ tests female vs. male gazes, and more

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, the first full-fledged cinematic outing for the venerable superhero, achieved another milestone, becoming the highest-grossing film within the DC Extended Universe films. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled tests female vs. male gazes, while comparing the careers of Colin Trevorrow and Mimi Leder tests the patience of female film fans. And Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana and Shonda Rhimes are among the women to earn 2018 stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7 – 14: LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD

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The word indefatigable may well have been fashioned for the likes of Gertrude Bell. At a time, when women were largely confined to the domestic sphere, Bell climbed mountains, rode camels, palled about with Lawrence of Arabia, and penned letters, mountains of them, all the while dressed in impeccable fashion.Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT July 2017: Claire McCarthy, Filmmaker, OPHELIA

awfjspotlightsmallsmallclaire mccarthy 2Outside Oz, Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy is known primarily for her 2009 film The Waiting City, starring Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton as a couple in disarray as they travel to India to take delivery of a child they have adopted. But McCarthy’s broader filmography even more forcefully underscores why she is the perfect director for the upcoming Ophelia project, Hamlet retold from the perspective of Shakespeare’s iconically tragic ingenue as played by Daisy Ridley. As Michelle Hannett reported from Cannes in May, the film is one of the most highly anticipated for 2018 release. Continue reading…

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Filmmaker Interview: Directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum on LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD

letters from baghdad headshot smallLetters from Baghdad is the story of Gertrude Bell, an extraordinary women, sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. She was a British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence during WWI to help draw the borders of Iraq. As a result, she helped shape the modern Middle East. Read what Letters from Baghdad directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum have to say about Gertrude Bell, their compelling documentary and how it came to be, and the female perspective on filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 30-July 6: THE BEGUILED

motw logo 1-35With her sixth feature, director Sofia Coppola can no longer be denied the appellation of auteur… if she ever could. The lush visuals, sultry atmosphere, and almost serene sense of the sinister that infuses The Beguiled add intriguing new layers to the distinctive signature approach to cinematic storytelling Coppola has been developing since her debut with 1999’s The Virgin Suicides. Continue reading…

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WATCHING GENDER: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids’ Development — Betsy Bozdech reports

It’s no secret that what kids see on screens has an impact on what they believe and who they become. That’s particularly true when it comes to gender; media that perpetuates rigid gender roles and stereotypes can affect kids’ sense of self, relationships, and career aspirations. Common Sense Media’s new research brief, “Watching Gender,” explores the effects of gender-biased media (specifically in TV and movies) on children’s development. It’s all part of the Gender Equity Is Common Sense initiative, which will lead to the creation of new tools and strategies to promote positive role models and representations for kids everywhere. Continue reading…awfj gender image study

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Patty Jenkins and WONDER WOMAN Lasso Records — Brandy McDonnell reports

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman. The superhero adventure eclipsed the $609.8 million racked up by 2008’s Mamma Mia!, the Abba movie musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Since Jenkins directed Charlize Theron to Oscar victory with her acclaimed biopic Monster (2003), she’s directed episodes of television’s Arrested Development and Entourage, and the Emmy-nominated pilot for The Killing, but she has had to wait 14 years before directing another feature film. Wake up, Hollywood! Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Ana Lily and Sofia and the Diversity Issue — Jennifer Merin comments

Ana Lily Amirpour and Sofia Coppola are female directors whose unique perspectives in filmmaking have attached the term auteur to their names and bodies of work. Yet, both directors are being tagged as ‘racist’ in criticism of their current productions. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 23-30: BAND AID

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“Love is hell” might very well be the title of one of the original songs featured in the new romantic comedy Band Aid, this week’s Movie of the Week. Although in the parlance of Zoe Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, calling the song “Love is heck” might actually be more fitting. Continue reading…

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Three — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. The first question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Then we asked them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet. And, finally, we requested their thoughts on which characters they consider role models for young women and girls who are eager to see a wide range of female characters in the media. Read on…

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Two — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Now we ask them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet? Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News Wrap: “Wonder Woman” soars, “Mummy” stumbles, plus Cowperthwaite, DuVernay and Winfrey — Brandy McDonnell reports

Wonder Woman” really unwrapped “The Mummy” at this week’s box office, while Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s “Megan Leavey” took an unexpectedly big bite of the take, too — again proving to Hollywood that American filmgoers — both women and men — love seeing women’s stories on the big screen. Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey speak out for diversity and inclusion. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 9 – 16: MEGAN LEAVEY

motw logo 1-35A film about a woman and a dog already has one at a distinct advantage. Critical faculties are of little avail against the soulful eyes of an adorable canine. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film Megan Leavey (opening June 9, 2017) pulls at the heartstrings with near shameless abandon, and for the most part it works. – Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 2 -9: SAMI BLOOD

motw logo 1-35“Sami Blood,” set primarily in 1930s Sweden, tells the heartbreaking and eye opening story of Elle-Marja (Lene Cecilia Sparrok), a teenage girl of the Sami, a semi-nomadic indigenous people whose highly sophisticated traditional culture and way of life are completely intertwined with the reindeer they herd and breed throughout Northern Scandinavia. Framed by contemporary scenes in which an elderly Elle-Marja (now known by the Swedish name of Christina) reluctantly returns to the homeland and traditions she fled as a girl, the film is a moving coming-of-age story about a young girl wrestling with issues of cultural identity and destiny in addition to all of her typical teenage angst. Continue reading…

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