MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 22, 2018: WOMAN WALKS AHEAD

motw logo 1-35History becomes “her”story (with a few factual tweaks) in Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead, which introduces audiences to Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a determined portrait artist who defies convention — and the U.S. government — in the late 1880s to fulfill her dream of painting legendary warrior Sitting Bull and learning about the Lakota people (who are part of the Sioux tribes). Chastain delivers another excellent performance as Weldon, who ultimately finds more than artistic inspiration on the open prairies. Continue reading…

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NYWIFT’s AfriAmerican Immigrant Screening: Local Stories, Global Themes – Madeline Johnson reports (Exclusive Guest Post)

nywift logoIn Astoria’s historic Kaufman Studios, filmmakers from the African diaspora shared local stories that reverberated deep into universal themes and questions as part of the fourth annual New York Women in Film & Television’s (NYWIFT) Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories screening on May 31, 2018. Highlighting narrative and documentary shorts about the New York immigrant experience, the selected films covered issues ranging from the #MeToo movement to Trump’s travel ban, and from the immigrant experience to what it means to be American. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE

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Summer Docs Watch: The Missing Honeybees — Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

more than honey posterCommentaries posted across the internet report that as summer progresses across the nation, fields of clover coming to bloom sweeten the air with their delicate fragrance. But the web buzz is that the honeybees, usually attracted to pollinate the flowers, are in absentia this year, as they have been for several years past. Several extremely good documentaries that have been released during the past decade, have set off alarms about the missing honeybees by chronicling and explaining ‘colony collapse disorder,’ the phenomenon that threatens to put honeybees on the endangered species list, to upend the ecosystem and to disastrously disrupt our food supply. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Alfre Woodard Talks Inclusion, ‘Luke Cage’ and What’s Next — Brandy McDonnell interviews

alfre woodardAlfre Woodard, named one of the deadCenter Film Festival’s 2018 Oklahoma Film Icon Award winners, considers herself an “original gangster,” saying that after four decades in show business she has seen plenty of trends come and go. That includes the trend of including women or people of color in movies and television shows just because it happens to be fashionable at the moment, or because someone else had success doing it. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT June 2018: Andrea Riseborough, Actress, Director, Producer, Outspoken Activist

andrea riseborough head 3This month’s Alliance of Women Film Journalists SPOTLIGHT is on quadruple talent Andrea Riseborough, who in addition to writing, acting, and producing, has recently added directing to her arsenal of skills and cache of passions. If her name only barely rings a bell, don’t worry. As a performer, Riseborough is a chameleon who prefers to slip herself completely into each acting role. She never looks the same way twice. In fact, even if fans have been following her career since her first appearance, they are still unlikely to know her real hair color. They may not even be able to recognize her on the street. In speaking to Riseborough about her career and latest role as producer and star of the indie release Nancy, she makes it clear she couldn’t care less about celebrity recognition. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 1, 2018: SOCIAL ANIMALS

motw logo 1-35There’s no question about it — adulting is hard. But sometimes, as the characters in writer/director Theresa Bennett’s debut comedy Social Animals learn, you have to step up and be the grown-up in the room. Especially if that also means you get to be a bit happier and more fulfilled than you were before. Social Animals follows a group of quirky, young, mostly female Austinites as they grapple with careers (or lack thereof), relationships (ditto), and friendship. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 25, 2018: MARY SHELLEY

motw logo 1-35Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour‘s biopic about Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s passionate romance with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley — and Godwin/Shelley’s struggle to be recognized as a female author — is a compelling, atmospheric drama with strong performances by a talented cast. It is the truth-based tale of a truly gifted woman who courageously rebelled against the repressive customs of her day. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 18, 2018: SUMMER 1993

motw logo 1-35Unhurried, poignant, and extremely naturalistic, Catalan filmmaker Carla Simon’s debut feature “Summer 1993″ tells the story of 6-year-old Frida (Laia Artigas), whose world is turned upside down after her mother’s death. She leaves their home in Barcelona to go live with her uncle, aunt, and young cousin in the countryside; they welcome her with love, but the transition period isn’t easy for any of them. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women Protest at Cannes, Chastain-led 355 Scores Deal, Witherspoon’s Girls Film Program — Brandy McDonnell reports

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Jury Chair Cate Blanchett and Palme d’Or-winning director Agnes Varda stood among 82 women in film who gathered on the red carpet at the Lumière Theater to protest the 71 year old festival’s exceptionally poor record on inclusion of women in all areas of festival programming, and demand greater equality for women in the film industry. Also at Cannes, the Jessica Chastain-led spy thriller 355 scores a big deal with Universal Pictures. And, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company is joining with AT&T and Fresh Films to create the AT&T Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab for teenage girls. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 4, 2018: RBG

motw logo 1-35As the saying goes, not all superheroes wear capes. In fact, some might even be clad in black robes and lace collars. That’s the emotional takeaway from Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s excellent documentary “RBG,” which tells the story of iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Tracing her life from childhood through the present, the film both humanizes Ginsburg and cements exactly why she’s so beloved by those who are passionate about women’s rights and gender equality. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT May 2018: Jessica Thompson, Indie Filmmaker, THE LIGHT OF THE MOON

jessica thompson head 1When filmmaker Jessica Thompson won the Audience Award at 2017’s SXSW for her engaging, gritty debut drama The Light of the Moon, she wasn’t exactly expecting it. “I didn’t think it was funny enough,” the Sydney native said of the film, a New York set story that doesn’t tread easy territory, following a talented architect named Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz in a gutsy and under-sung performance) as she grapples with the aftermath of a brutal rape. While the subject matter is dark, Thompson’s critically acclaimed film approaches it with subtlety and humor. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women on Cannes Jury, Women at Tribeca Film Festival, Karen Gillian Directs First Feature — Brandy McDonnell reports

Actor-turned-filmmaker Karen Gillan premiered her first feature, The Party’s Just Beginning at Tribeca Film Festival. Held in NYC from April xx to xx, this year”/ TriBeCa Film Festival program came close to gender parity with 46 percent of its feature films directed by women. In other film festival news, Cannes, set for May 8-19, will for the first time since 2014, boast a female-majority jury, with Cate Blanchett presiding. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Sundance Film Festival London, Cathy Yan and Lynda Carter — Brandy McDonnell reports

Sundance Film Festival: London plans to showcase female filmmakers. Filmmaker Cathy Yan, 2018 Sundance Film Festival breakout writer-director, is in talks to helm a DC film featuring Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad anti-hero Harley Quinn. Lynda Carter might appear in Wonder Woman 2. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 20: LITTLE PINK HOUSE

motw logo 1-35Courtney Balaker’s “Little Pink House” is a compelling drama based on the true story of Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener), a nurse who isn’t looking for anything bigger than a quiet life in the pink cottage she renovated herself in a decidedly unglamorous part of New London, Connecticut. But she’s destined to become the national face of an emotional court battle over eminent domain after the city comes for her home — and those of her neighbors — in the early 2000s so that pharmaceutical corporate giant Pfizer can build a new facility on the land. \Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Female Helmers take HALF THE PICTURE and LUKE CAGE 2. Hodson Writes BATGIRL — Brandy McDonnell reports

Amy Adrion’s documentary, Half the Picture, presents a compelling account of the horror stories female directors face. Femme-helmers will rule the set for half of the episodes of Luke CageSeason 2. Unforgettable scripter Christina Hodson has been tapped to write the Batgirl movie. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 13, 2018: THE RIDER

motw logo 1-35Sweeping vistas and earnest, ultra-realistic performances are at the heart of Chloe Zhao’s moving drama “The Rider,” which follows the struggles of a modern cowboy after his promising rodeo career is cut short by a grave injury. The drama was filmed almost entirely on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and features Pine Ridge residents — members of the Lakota tribe — playing thinly fictionalized versions of themselves. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: HIDDEN FIGURES TV Series, Wood in July Heister, Rodriguez Plays Sandiego — Brandy McDonnell reports

Netflix has acquired the live-action feature film rights to Carmen Sandiego, attaching Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez (the CW series Jane the Virgin to star as the title character. Rodriguez has also been cast alongside Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s Westworld) to star in indie filmmaker Miranda July’s latest project, a heist film from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, with production beginning in May. Nat Geo is developing a series inspired by Hidden Figures, the 2016 Oscar-nominated film about the black women mathematicians who were unsung heroes in launching the early-day of the American space program. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE — Review by Nikki Baughan

lynne ramsay you were never posterTo say that Lynne Ramsay has a powerful understanding of film may be an obvious statement, given that she’s made several critically acclaimed, award-winning features and shorts. Yet her approach to filmmaking goes beyond a mastery of the craft to an innate appreciation of cinema’s immersive power. She is skilled at bending the rules, at ensuring that every on-screen element, whether seen or heard, is authentic to her characters, and at compelling her audience to become an active participant in the story. Nowhere is that clearer than in her new film, You Were Never Really Here. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, April 6, 2018: MABEL MABEL TIGER TRAINER

motw logo 1-35More than just the story of the remarkable Mabel Stark and her eventful life, Leslie Zemeckis’ documentary Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer is a fascinating glimpse into a world most of us will never experience, one of dangerous animals, fearless performers, and the nonstop behind-the-scenes drama of the big tent. It is also a chronicle of life of a gifted, determined and tougher than tigers woman performance artist in America from the turn of the nineteenth century to 1968. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT April 2018: Lynne Ramsey, Glaswegian, Director of YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

LYNNE RAMSAY HEAD 1Writer/director Lynne Ramsay is yet another confirmation that Scotland is one of the coolest places on the planet for cultivating artists. Ramsay has created a multi-hyphenate career as writer, director, producer, and cinematographer. A number of distinguished film world insiders have called her one of the greatest living filmmakers. As evidenced by her career and loyal fans, it appears that she stands squarely in the middle of those Scots who don’t suffer fools, and for better or worse, dance to their own drums. Continue reading…

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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 30: OUTSIDE IN

motw logo 1-35Lynn Shelton’s “Outside In” is a delicately rendered, poignant drama about the power of human connection. It centers on Chris (Jay Duplass, who co-wrote the screenplay with Shelton), who’s just spent 20 years in prison after being convicted of a crime that wasn’t really his fault (wrong place, wrong time). Out on parole largely due to the tireless advocacy and research work of his former English teacher, Carol (Edie Falco), Chris returns to a small Pacific Northwest town that welcomes him back but doesn’t really have any idea what to do with him. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 23, 2018: MADAME

motw logo 1-35Despite its (mostly) posh characters and haute Parisian dinner-party-centric premise, “Madame” isn’t just a zinger-filled drawing-room comedy. Rather, director/co-writer Amanda Sthers’ film is a cleverly satirical and easy to swallow examination of class, privilege, self worth, and the bone-deep insecurities that plague us all, whether we’re hosting luminaries or serving them coffee. Continue reading…

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MADAME — Review by Cate Marquis

Madame is a French comedy of manners from writer/director Amanda Sther, that plays with what happens when a wealthy hostess suddenly discovers that she needs one more dinner guest to avoid having the unlucky number 13, and decides to pass off her maid as one of the guests. But this is no costume drama set in the 18th century – this story takes place in modern Paris, with Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette playing the wealthy American couple, living in a Paris mansion. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 16, 2018: IN THE LAND OF POMEGRANATES

motw logo 1-35Anyone who’s ever wondered why the possibility of peace in the Middle East seems permanently out of reach should watch “In the Land of Pomegranates,” Hava Kohav Beller’s thoughtful, thought-provoking documentary about the bitter Palestinian/Jewish conflict. Beller, an octogenarian who previously earned an Oscar nomination for 1991′s “The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler Within Germany 1933-1945,” spent more than a decade making this new film, and her patience pays off. Continue reading…

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