THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ sets box office records for female-fueled films – Brandy McDonnell reports

beauty and the beast posterDisney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” proved magical, AWFJ’s #MOTW for March 17, has set several box-office records during its first weekend in theaters. The lavish movie-musical version of the fairytale story conjured up an incredible $170 million in North America and $350 million globally. It is the biggest debut of all time for a female-fueled film, proving yet again that female protagonists are strong both on screen and at the box office. The numbers underscore the buying power of women and girls. On Friday, more than 70 percent of ticket buyers were females, with the overall weekend percentage at 60 percent, per Disney’s numbers as cited by The Hollywood Reporter. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 17-24, 2017: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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It may be a “tale as old as time,” but there’s plenty that’s new and fresh in Disney’s live-action take on one of folklore’s most enduring opposites-attract stories. First and foremost is Emma Watson as Belle, the independent, book-loving French girl who dreams of “adventure in the great wide somewhere” and ends up the captive of the surly, bitter, cursed Beast (Dan Stevens) after trading her own freedom for her father’s (Kevin Kline). Watson’s Belle is smart, confident, courageous, and feisty — she adds a welcome dash of our beloved Hermione to a character who was already considered one of Disney’s more admirable, self-sufficient princesses. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: King Kong’s leading lady gets a much-needed upgrade — Brandy McDonnell reports

skull island brie larsonKong: Skull Island emerged as box office king, debuting at No. 1 with a $61 million take. The latest cinematic outing for the “eighth wonder of the world” topped international charts, too, earning $81.6 million from 66 territories. Since this version of Kong is here to stay for a while, it’s a good thing the director and screenwriters Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World) gave the female lead (Brie Larson) an overhaul nearly as dramatic as the supersizing of the gigantic gorilla. She’s a seasoned and fearless “anti-war photographer” who doesn’t tote a gun, but gets her team out of harrowing encounters with the Skull Island’s myriad monsters. She’s first to empathize with Kong and realize he’s not the mindless killing machine soldiers and scientists believe him to be. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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Kristen Stewart on Personal Transformation and PERSONAL SHOPPER — Loren King interviews

kristen stewartThe megastar of the Twilight franchise when she was barely out of her teens is now a respected indie actress with a prodigious output. Last year alone, she won praise for roles in Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and directed a short film, Come Swim. Oh, and she hosted Saturday Night Live, delivering an opening monologue that affirmed her coming out, while also skewering her own tabloid fame. Read more>>

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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…

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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…

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Oscars 2017: Opportunity for More Creativity on Stage — Katherine Brodsky comments (Exclusive)

oscar logoThis year had several worthy nominees and they were well-recognized. Although as a whimsical musical fan, I was rooting for “La La Land” as Best Picture, having finally caught up on “Moonlight” a few nights prior, I recognized what a great film it was as well. But here’s a sad fact: This year’s Oscar ceremony will be remembered most for the hiccup at the end rather than anything in between. Every year, I tune in to the Oscars telecast hoping for a great show, thinking that this year will be the one. Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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Oscars 2017: Poise Under Pressure — Sheila Roberts comments (Exclusive)

oscar logoEtched indelibly in my mind about the Oscars this year is how graciously the presenters and the filmmakers from “La La Land” and “Moonlight” handled the confusion that ensued on stage after the wrong Best Picture was announced. Noteworthy was the leadership of “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz who took charge and stepped in to clarify what had gone wrong, even when it meant acknowledging his own loss. It was done with a lot of class, dignity, and poise under pressure. Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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Oscars 2017: Victories for ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land’ and Viola Davis — Brandy McDonnell reports (Exclusive)

oscar logoIn a twist ending that only Hollywood could dream up, “Moonlight” won best picture Sunday night after a mixed-up finish at the 89th Academy Awards. Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar for acting. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscars set records but women are still underrepresented — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscar logoThis year’s Oscar nods are good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way, especially since I’m sure it will come to no surprise to industry watchers or regular readers of this blog. Despite a slew of attention-getting films such as “Jackie,” “Arrival” and “Hidden Figures.” all featuring featuring strong, complex women as leading characters, the number of female Oscar nominees for behind-the-scenes roles dropped among this year’s Academy Award nominations. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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WISH UPON — Preview by Liz Whittemore

What sets a horror film apart from all the others? A great trailer that engages fans’ curiosity, for one thing. But add another element for young fans to play with while waiting for said anticipated film? There’s your winner, and it’s Wish Upon. Read more on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 10 – 17: A UNITED KINGDOM

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A United Kingdom is director Amma Asante’s earnest, thought-provoking drama about the real-life passion between Botswana’s beloved Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Set in post-WWII England and Africa, the film sheds light on an important, still-relevant slice of history, addressing issues of race, politics, and colonialism while also telling a heartwarming love story. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: The Women of HIDDEN FIGURES — Brandy McDonnell Reports

hidden-figures-5Once the feel-good film of awards season, ‘Hidden Figures’ is now a big winner and a big moneymaker. Throughout this film awards cycle, Hidden Figures has been the crowd-pleasing, uplifting fan favorite. This weekend, the fact-based period drama about the African-American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA during the space race won the top prize at the SAG Awards and crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Will the film’s success make a difference? The real women whose stories are told in the film hope it will. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams and Jill Soloway Spar at Sundance — Thelma Adams reports

The roots of the women’s brunch brouhaha that emerged between Hayek and Williams and extended out to include those present including Shirley MacLaine and Alfre Woodard were generational, racial and sexual, reflecting the larger critical split in the women’s movement beyond the petri dish of the Sundance Film Festival. Read more>>

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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

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SPOTLIGHT February 2017: Amma Asante, Filmmaker, A UNITED KINGDOM — by Marilyn Ferdinand

awfjspotlightsmallsmallamma with mask“We whopped Spider-Man, and that is my claim to fame!”

With the good humor and energy that have helped her break through to the front ranks of the film industry, director/ screenwriter/actress Amma Asante celebrated the opening week box-office victory of her spellbinding feature Belle (2013) over the popular superhero franchise. Belle tells the moving true story of a biracial woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle, brought up as an aristocrat in 18th century England. While it luxuriates in the kind of genteel elegance that is catnip to audiences, Asante also offers a penetrating look at the abomination of slavery upon which such rich lifestyles were based, and the confusion its title character feels as a result. Read on…

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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.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: RIP Mary Tyler Moore, plus news on Octavia Spencer, Lily Tomlin, Kristen Chenoweth and more — by Brandy McDonnell

In this THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup.we remember the wonderful Mary Tyler Moore, report on honors for Octavia Spencer and Lily Tomlin, follow Kristin Chenoweth’s praise for Lion for its treatment of adoption, and praise Kerry Washington as she urges courage at Sundance. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscar Nominations — Brandy McDonnell comments

With the 2017 Oscar nominations, the Academy broke or tied multiple records. The movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling. How did they fare on gender parity and diversity? Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News wrap around Oscars, SAGs, Lily Tomlin Honored and More — Brandy McDonnell reports

lily tomlin headshotThe Academy will forego a live audience for the nomination announcements, instead livestreaming them at Oscars.org, which has caused quite a flap among publicists and members of the press. But everyone’s delighted that Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton will present SAGs Life Achievement Award to brilliant, all-round entertainment maverick Lily Tomlin during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. And more coursgeous female stars are speaking out to spark change in Hollywood. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia Legacy — Brandy McDonnell comments

princess leiaWhen my sister and I were kids during the 80s, it was ALWAYS a good time to play Star Wars. We were Star Wars diehards, determined to follow the good side, not the dark. But there was a problem: There was only one heroine in that far away galaxy. So, when it came time to play Stars Wars, tough decisions had to be made. Would one of us play Han Solo or Luke Skywalker? That was no good: We were tomboys, not boys. Sometimes we both played Princess Leia, and sometimes we created our own female characters — because when we were growing up there was only one woman who got to be a hero. And while that may have been severely limiting, at least Star Wars had one. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Oscars and Movies and Targeting Millennials — Michelle McCue comments

ArquetteOscar15The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced – to widespread chagrin– that the press and publicists would no longer be a part of the annual tradition of being at AMPAS headquarters in Beverly Hills at the Samuel Goldwyn theater when the Oscar nominations are revealed on January 24. A beloved tradition is gone. What comes in its place and what do the changes augur for Oscar’s future? Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENGER

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AWFJ Movie of the Week January 20-27, 2017: 2OTH CENTURY WOMEN

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Director Mike Mills has a way with women. His new film 20th Century Women, coming some six years after Beginners in 2010, has been described as a love letter to his mother. But it is also a portrait of a time and place, and a collection of people perched on the edge of enormous change.

It is 1979, the last staggering breath of the 70s era of drugs, sex, and social revolution is about to give way to the big bold 80s. This transitional moment is embodied by Jimmy Carter’s infamous Crisis of Confidence speech. But inside this larger moment in history, smaller crises are also taking place. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Number of women directors falls, female characters have less to say — Brandy McDonnell reports

The number of female feature film directors has fallen, female characters have far less chance to talk in movies and there continues to be a huge gender pay gap in Hollywood. 2016 actually gave some reason to be hopeful about women in the movies. Disney released three stellar animated movies – Zootopia, Moana and Pixar’s Finding Dory — and all featuring female lead characters, none of them traditional damsels in distress. Women were leads in two smash sci-fi films with Arrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with the latter becoming the second movie in the Star Wars saga to have a female lead. And the period drana Hidden Figures, based on real-life stories of African-American women who worked behind the scenes as mathematicians to help launch the first U.S. astronauts into space, is a hit at the box office. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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