MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 22 – 29, 2017: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

motw logo 1-35Battle of the Sexes takes its name from the historic 1973 grudge match between tennis superstar Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). But the movie is about so much more than that singular game, no matter how big that game turned out to be. It’s about acknowledging and accepting who you are, standing up for what you believe, and using your voice to fight for the people who need you. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: McGowan @ Tallgrass FF, Gerwig @ Austin FF, Payday for Jenkins, Curtis and HALLOWEEN — Brandy McDonnell reports

Rose McGowan is being honored by the Tallgrass International Film Festival in Wichita, Greta Gerwig’s well-reviewed ‘Lady Bird’ has been selected to open the Austin Film Festival, Patty Jenkins has sealed a deal for ‘Wonder Woman 2′ that makes her the highest paid female director in history, and , and Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the ‘Halloween’ franchise. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 15 to 22, 2017: DOLORES

motw logo 1-35It’s a safe bet that many folks, if asked to name someone associated with the United Farm Workers of America union (originally the National Farm Workers Association), would draw a total blank. Some might come up with Cesar Chavez. But very few are likely to mention Dolores Huerta, despite her countless contributions to the UFW beginning in the 1960s and her continuing role as an outspoken intersectional activist who fights for feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, and more. Continue reading…

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Meet Upcoming Indian Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari — Interview by Mythily Ramachandran (Exclusive)

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (2)Indian director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s first film, Nil Battey Sannata,’ (Hindi for Zero divided by Zero), released last year, was so successful she had to do a second version in Tamil. She premiered her second film, a hilarious romcom titled ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ (Hindi for ‘Bareilly’s Candy’) last month. Both films are femme-centric and, as Indian critic Mythily Ramachandran reports, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is here to stay. Read Mythily Ramachandran’s interview with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 8 to 15: STRONG ISLAND

motw logo 1-35Infuriating, fascinating, and deeply emotional, Strong Island is the deeply personal chronicle and commentary by documentary filmmaker Yance Ford about his search for an explanation of and accounting for why the man who killed his brother was never charged with the crime and walked away without any punishment. Yance’s brother, William Ford, a young African-American man, was shot and killed in 1992 by a White auto mechanic after a verbal altercation at the repair shop where the latter worked. William’s death shocked the Ford family and left them devastated. Continue reading…

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Yance Ford on STRONG ISLAND, Grief and Injustice — Jennifer Merin interviews

yance ford headYance Ford has been an influential member of the documentary film community for some years, working as a programmer for POV and commissioning the works of others. With Strong Island, he turns his smarts and skills to making in a highly personal documentary about the murder of his brother and the impact that heinous event had on his family. He sat down with me to discuss Strong Island, rage and grief, injustice and wonderment. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: GIRLS TRIP, Patty Jenkins, Geena Davis and Women Texas Film Fest

The hit comedy “Girls Trip” has crossed the $100 million mark at the box office and broken a couple of records in the process. Patty Jenkins, whose “Wonder Woman” is another of this summer’s box office hits, says she hopes the superhero movie’s success will lead to more job openings for women in and beyond the film industry. Geena Davis returns to big screens in the scifi indie,“Marjorie Prime,” about a woman who helps her mother fight dementia by getting her a hologram of her deceased husband to activate her memory. The Dallas-based Women Texas Film Festival announced its award winners, with Brooke and Doug Purdy’s “Quality Problems” taking home the award for Best Feature Film. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2017: MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com Film Critic and Activist

awfjspotlightsmallsmallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPioneering film critic MaryAnn Johanson celebrates the twentieth anniversary of her popular FilckFilosopher.com website this month; an impressive enough feat in itself. That MaryAnn has established herself as a distinct, influential and prolific feminist critic in a fiercely competitive and male-dominated industry, however, is testament not just to her boundless knowledge of and passion for film, but also of her extraordinary tenacity and determination. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 1- 8: SCHOOL LIFE

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School Life, director Neasa Ní Chianáin’s sweetly pellucid portrait of Headfort School in County Kells, Ireland feels like a sojourn in another simpler age. Inside the school’s rambling hallways and comfortably shambolic classrooms, a proper education, in all senses of the term, is unfolding. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: James Cameron vs. Wonder Woman! — Brandy McDonnell comments

The Terminator 2: Judgment Day director calls Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movie “a step back,” and confirms Hollywood’s continuing desire to lock women in the “strong” box. In a recent interview centered on the 3-D re-release of his 1991 blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day, James Cameron set off a firestorm on Twitter when he reduced Wonder Woman and her depiction in Patty Jenkins’ record-setting film to “an objectified icon” that he considers “a step backwards” from his female character of Sarah Connor. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 25 – September 1: POLINA

motw logo 1-35Raw, emotional, and creative, Valerie Muller and Angelin Preljocaj’s Polina is an engaging story about a young Russian dancer who needs to find her inner self before she can truly lose herself in her art. With strong and compelling performances both on and off the dance stage, the film is a powerful look at managing others’ expectations, having the courage to take chances, and believing in yourself. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Latest on Patty Jenkins, Saoirse Ronan, Reese Witherspoon and Annie Clark aka St. Vincent — Brandy McDonnell reports

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is set to direct a new version of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, starring a woman in the title role. Saoirse Ronan takes on the title role in Mary, Queen of Scots, opposite Margot Robbie as Elizabeth. Reese Witherspoon talks rom com evolution as represented by her latest, Home Again, the directorial debut Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of acclaimed director Nancy Meyers. And, Patty Jenkins is upping the income ante on Wonder Woman II, following the first film’s mega box office success. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 18-25: DETROIT

motw logo 1-35Intense. Infuriating. Immediate. Kathryn Bigelow‘s powerful, often-heartbreaking historical drama Detroit is all of these things and more. Set amid the chaos, violence, and anger of the riots that dominated Motor City during the summer of 1967, the film’s narrative focuses on the police brutality that took place at the Algiers Motel on July 25 and 26 of that year, and the justice system’s subsequent whitewashing of that heinous event. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Gadot Seeks Gold, Chastain Joins X-MEN, Woodard Becomes Lionesque and Lamarr Gets Documentary — Brandy McDonnell reports

Warner Bros. will mount an Oscar campaign for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, striving to get first-ever comic book film nominations. Jessica Chastain joins the X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast as Lilandra Neramani, Princess-Majestrix of the Shi’ar Empire, a humanoid species with birdlike attributes. Alfre Woodard will be the voice of Simba’s mom in director Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s The Lion King. And, come November, Hedy Lamarr returns to silver screens with the release of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary directed by Alexandra Dean and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 11 to 18, 2017: PATTI CAKE$

motw logo 1-35Opening August 18, Patti Cake$ tells the story of aspiring New Jersey rapper Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski, portrayed by Australian actress Danielle Macdonald in a breakout perfomance. Patti lives with her single mom, Barb (Bridget Everett), and grandmother, Nana (Cathy Moriarty), in near squalor in urban New Jersey. Barb spends her evenings getting drunk and bitterly reveling in memories of her youthful days of near-stardom as a pop singer — a dream that fell by the wayside when she got pregnant with Patti. Patti, without outbursts of rebellion or resentment, sustains the family with menial jobs, while literally dreaming every night of stardom, as over-the-top visions of famous rapper O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah) float through her sleeping mind. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: USC Studies Show Numbers Still Dismal for Women in Film –Brandy McDonnell reports

Two studies released in the past week out of the University of Southern California confirm that films remain predominantly white and male both in front of and behind the cameras – meaning that basically everyone else — from women and people of color to LGBT individuals and people with disabilities — remain woefully underrepresented. Read the shocking stats and more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT August 2017: Kathryn Bigelow, Auteur, Oscar Winner, Director of DETROIT

awfjspotlightsmallsmallbigalow critics choice longKathryn Bigelow continues to advance the cause of women working in the film industry. Although she’s said that she prefers to be considered a ‘director’ rather than a ‘female director,’ she has consistently broken through the gender-based barriers that persist in the movie industry. Bigelow’s name is associated with a long list of ‘the first and/or only woman to win…’ stellar accomplishments, including capturing Academy Award gold for Best Director and Best Picture, BAFTA Award for Best Director and Best Picture, DGA Award for Outstanding Direction, PGA Award for Best Theatrical Production and numerous critics group awards (including four AWFJ EDA Awards) for best direction and best film, all for The Hurt Locker in 2008, followed by a similar array of accolades in 2012 for Zero Dark Thirty. Her latest film, Detroit, releases this month, and is already garnering awards buzz. It’s time for AWFJ to celebrate the multitalented and highly accomplished Kathryn Bigelow in our August SPOTLIGHT. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Best Femme-Helmed, Femme-Centric Films of 2017, To Date

motw logo 1-35Focusing specifically on films directed by women as well as those featuring strong female lead characters and female-centric stories, AWFJ’s Team #MOTW has endorsed 31 exceptional films during 2017, to date. Because we pick only one film for our Movie of the Week endorsement, we’ve actually had to pass up a good number of other superb films that qualified, but were not our collective top choice. Now that we’ve arrived at the midway point in this year’s release schedule, we’re pausing to look back at all the films we’ve considered for #MOTW endorsement, and we are pleasantly surprised to note the volume of wonderful films made by and about women. Continue reading…

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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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