San Diego Comic-Con 2018: Expanding Fan Support for Women in Film — Leslie Combemale reports

san diego comic con logoFor many years, there have been symposiums, panels, and gatherings at many of the world’s film festivals to educate and support women both in front of and behind the camera. This has always made sense. There are far more opportunities for female filmmakers and stories in the independent space. Recently, another study announced the continued bleak percentages of women being hired to helm films at the major studios. What reason then, would there be for expanding representation of women on panels and at events surrounding San Diego Comic-Con, or SDCC as it’s known to fans? It is the convention that celebrates the most popular, most promoted, and studio-driven projects in Hollywood. As it turns out, every reason in the world. Continue reading…

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What’s Up Down Under? Monica Bellucci Fronts NEKROTRONIC at TIFF Premier — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Up from Down Under, look for a stunning performance from iconic French screen legend Monica Bellucci in Nekrotronic, the sophomore effort from Australian horror filmmakers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner and their production company Guerilla Films. Nekrotronic stars Bellucci as a corrupt demon-hunter whose turn to the darkside threatens life both online and off, leaving the fate of humankind in the hands of Howard (Ben O’Toole), Molly (Caroline Ford), and Torquel (Tess Haubrich). Continue reading…

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Fantasia International Film Festival 2018: Born of Woman Section Dominates — Liz Whittemore Reports

This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival (July 2-August 2) showcased some extraordinary femme-centric thrills and terror in its BORN OF WOMAN section. In the nine selections in the program, stories range from sci-fi to horror, all the way to to the downright strange and unusual. What makes these shorts unique is that fact that they are all directed by women and their stories are all about women. When Fantasia International Film Festival gave birth to BORN OF WOMEN program in 2016 incarnation, it added something that has long been missing in a genre that is known for its predominantly misogynistic overtone. For a rundown of the nine films showcased this year, continue to I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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Documentary Distribution 101: The Film Festival Effect — Jennifer Merin comments

Developing audiences for documentaries is a daunting task for even well-established filmmakers. Successful documentary distribution depends on audience demand, on convincing audiences that they want to purchase a ticket for a nonfiction film rather than for a narrative feature, even the weekly blockbuster that has a title that has been inked indelibly onto their psyche by big budget, aggressive and effective marketing. How does film festival exposure help documentaries to gain audience, and does a documentary’s success on the festival circuit translate into wider distribution? Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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GOOD MANNERS — Sydney Film Festival Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

good manners posterOver recent years, South American filmmakers have consolidated their status as genre filmmaking ground-breakers, building on a long history of horror film production in the region that is far too often overlooked. Written and directed by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, the 2017 Brazilian film Good Manners is a perfect example of a visionary treatment of often hackneyed generic clichés that rejuvenates the genre into something not just aesthetically beautiful and entertaining, but also ideologically and emotionally very powerful. Premiering at the Locarno Film Festival, it has played at a number of festivals around the world until it came to my attention at the Sydney Film Festival in Australia. Continue reading…

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What’s Up Down Under? Queensland Film Festival: 80 Percent Femme-helmed Films — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Queensland Film Festival logoThe Australian state of Queensland in the country’s north-east in many ways typifies all the national clichés so readily identifiable in the international imagination, its iconography saturated with bikini-clad women engaging in myriad ways with sun, sand, and surf. Unlike the larger and supposedly more urban cities of Melbourne and Sydney, however, Queensland’s capital city Brisbane boasts one of the most unique treasures in the country’s yearly film calendar. The Queensland Film Festival is an annual event that has run for the last four years which showcases some of the most innovative and daring programming in the country. Continue reading…

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THE CHANGEOVER — Sydney Film Festival Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

the changeover posterThere is an entire generation of people who grew up in Australia and New Zealand with the books of acclaimed award-winning children’s author Margaret Mahy. Many of her most successful novels in today’s parlance fit firmly within the YA category, although at the time she was writing her supernatural novels like The Haunting (1982) and The Changeover (1984), that was not a term popularly employed in that region especially. Recently making its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival after premiering in New Zealand last year and playing festivals in Asia and Europe, The Changeover is a Mahy adaptation well worth waiting for. Continue reading…

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Cannes Film Festival 2018: The Fight for Inclusion Continues — Moira Sullivan reports

cannes festival 2018 logoOfficially, this was the year for women at Cannes. It is a year that is only meaningful if the number of films made by women selected to the festival increases. The realization that Cannes is a hunting ground for sexual predators can never be erased thanks to Asia Argento’s face to face in the closing ceremony. Festival de Cannes may not continue under the same exclusive terms of the past, but this is the year where acknowledging the achievements of women was dynamically profiled. Inclusion is yet to come. Continue reading…

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Créteil Films de Femmes 2018: The 40th Anniversary — Moira Sullivan reports

creiteul festival logoThe “Créteil Films de Femmes” International Women’s Film Festival is an ongoing showcase of films made by women since 1978. This year the 40th anniversary event was held from March 9-18. Through the years guests such as Agnès Varda, Delphine Seyrig, Maria Schneider, Rachel Perkins, Bernadette LaFont, Chantal Akerman, Irene Papas, and Jeanne Moreau have met the public, showed their films and discussed their work. Although attendance has shrunk considerably since its inception, it is an important cultural event sponsored by the French government and municipality of Créteil. There is no struggle for inclusion as in Cannes: women’s films are selected to be honored 100%. Credit is due to Jackie Buet and her “equipe” (team), a phenomenal artistic director whose dynamic testimony is read up on opening night and summarized at the closure of the festival. Buet is an astute cultural critic and outstanding feminist whose work through 40 years of festivals is exceptional. The Créteil Festival celebrates inclusion whereas Cannes Film Festival is known for institutional exclusion. 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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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 9, 2018: CLAIRE’S CAMERA

motw logo 1-35Claire’s Camera is Cannes-centric. South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo set his quirky character-driven, genre-defying drama in the sun-drenched seaside resort town as the festival is taking place, but never visits the event’s star-studded glamour or industry hustle — both of which actually surrounded the film’s premiere at the festival in 2017. And, since the story is about friendship between two women, Claire’s Camera is femme-centric, too. Continue reading…

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CLAIRE’S CAMERA — Review by Moira Sullivan

Claire’s Camera was featured at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. French actress Isabelle Huppert meets South Korean actress Kim Min-hee, known for her role in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (2016 Vulcan award at Cannes). It is enough of a cinematic happening to drive South Korean director Hong Sangsoo to shoot Claire’s Camera in the environs of this festival, the most esteemed gathering for cinema achievements in the world. It took the protests at the May 1968 festival and the demands of festival critics like Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut to not only close down the festival that year but create a parallel section of films – the directors’ fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) where the reputation for auteur film was established. Rohmer’s Claire’s Knee (1970) comes to mind when viewing this contemplative impromptu film. Cannes inspires travelers, tourists and filmmakers alike to create films that capture its aura. This is Hong Sangsoo’s homage. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Blanchett Chairs Cannes Jury, Women Helmers Underrepresented, Wahlberg Donates to ‘Time’s Up’ — Brandy McDonnell reports

Last year, out of the 109 people who directed the top 100 movies, just eight were women, according to the latest stats from Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. That’s 4.3 percent! Following the pay disparity controversy between earnings for Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, Wahlberg is donating all of his take from the ‘All the Money in the World’ reshoot to the Time’s Up equality initiative. And, brava! Cate Blanchett is set to head this year’s Cannes jury. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women-Led Films Top 2017 Box Office, Golden Globes and Time’s Up Fight Harassment, Palm Springs Film Fest Awards, and AWFJ’s EDAs — Brandy McDonnell reports

Not only is the highest grossing movie of the year fronted by a female character – again – the top three films of 2017 are women-led stories. Celebrities attending the Golden Globe Awards ceremony will take a stand against sexual harassment by walking the red in black attire, showing solidarity with women in show business and other professions who are victims of on the job abuse. A new and well-funded organization called Time’s Up, founded by Hollywood A-Listers, is fighting sexual harassment in all professional environments through nation-wide initiatives. Palm Springs International Film Festival awards ceremony, considered to be the new year’s first awards presentation, attracts A-List Oscars contenders. And, AWFJ announces its 11th annual EDA Awards nominees, revealing a particularly strong roster of contenders. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THAT’S NOT ME – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

One of the most unexpected delights of Australian cinema in 2017 was Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher’s low-budget comedy That’s Not Me, winning audience favourite awards at both Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals this year and garnering strong, vocal support from film critics around the country. The debut feature by husband-and-wife team Erdstein and Foulcher – who met while students at Melbourne’s esteemed Victorian College of the Arts – wrote the screenplay together, with Erdstein taking on directorial duties while Foulcher played not one but both of the starring roles. Continue reading…

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WARU — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

waru posterOver a black screen, a young child’s voice states calmly: “When I died, I saw the whole world”. Directed by nine Māori women filmmakers, the opening moments of the New Zealand film Waru are as simple as they are devastating, perfectly capturing in mere seconds the tonal and thematic force of what is to come. Between them, these nine directors tell eight stories – ‘Waru’ is both the name of the departed child and the Māori word for “eight” – of events that transpire at the same time as his tangi or funeral. Each of the film’s eight sections focuses on the experiences of different Māori women at this particular moment in time, held together in a range of ways by Waru himself or what he represents to them, their community or New Zealand more broadly. Continue reading…

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Joan Chen at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao — Gill Pringle interviews

joan chenA female filmmaking pioneer, Chinese-born actress Joan Chen broke both race and gender barriers when she directed the May-November romance, Autumn in New York. Released in 2000, the well received film starred Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Chen mentions taking strength from her female support teamm including editor Ruby Yang and casting directors Sheila Jaffe and Georgeanne Walken. “I didn’t think of myself as breaking down any doors at the time. I think I was so innocent. I didn’t think about my role as a woman film-maker. It seemed very simple to me – I saw a story I really wanted to tell and was determined to tell it. I was fearless. I’m still surprised there aren’t many more female directors,” muses Chen, 56, when AWFJ catches up with her at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao. Continue reading…

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WHAT IF IT WORKS? — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Australian cinema has a curious relationship with romantic comedies. While international
hits like Strictly Ballroom (1992), Muriel's Wedding (1994), and Love and Other Catastrophes
(1996) found the subgenre hitting a commercial and critical sweet spot in the early-mid
1990s, it isn’t a national trend that has been repeated. Australian cinema has generally
since then leant towards darker or more serious subject matter. Filmmaker Romi Trower’s
What if It Works? may not have gained the same traction as its romcom predecessors, but
it’s certainly the little movie that could, winning awards for Best Australian Independent
Film at the 2017 Gold Coast Film Festival in Australia, Best Debut Feature Film at Canada’s
Female Eye Film Festival, and Cinequest’ New Visions Award in San Jose. Continue reading...

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Women Filmmakers Rise to the Top at Whistler Film Festival 2017 — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler logo 2017At a time when the call for gender parity is more prevalent than ever, the Whistler Film Festival 2017, taking placed from November 29 to December 3, will screen 14 feature films and 16 short films directed by women, which makes up 30% of this year’s film programming, the highest percentage for the festival to date. Continue reading…

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IDFA 2017: The Female Gaze is Gone — Jennifer Merin reports

idfa 2017 ;ogoInternational Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, otherwise known as IDFA, has accomplished during the decades since it was co-founded by Ally Derks, who is rightly revered in the documentary film realm. But Ally Derks has moved on, and IDFA is changing its outlook. This year, the festival dropped its The Female Gaze program and is, apparently, no longer focusing on ongoing issues of gender parity faced by the international community of women filmmakers. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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Belize International Film Festival 2017 — Gill Pringle reports

belize ffNow in its 12th year, the Belize International Film Festival has enjoyed growing success with every year, thanks to its founder and festival director Suzette Zayden. A Belizean native, her original goal with BIFF was to put Belize on the film map but also to engender connectivity between her fellow countrymen through film. Continue reading…

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EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival: Feature and Shorts Nominees Announced — Jennifer Merin reports

whistler logo 2017The Alliance of Women Film Journalists and Whistler Film Festival are proud to announce the nominees for two AWFJ EDA Awards to be presented at the 2017 festival. This is the fourth consecutive year of the partnership between Whistler Film Festival and AWFJ to honor films directed by women. Whistler Film Festival nominates films for consideration. Juries are comprised of AWFJ members. The winners will be announced and the EDA Awards will be presented at the festival’s awards ceremony on December 3, 2017. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT November 2017: Dee Rees, Independently Epic Filmmaker, Director MUDBOUND

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With just a few films to her credit, director Dee Rees is already making an assured and unique mark on American cinema. She brings mature talent, technical skill, and creative vision, all while being true to herself as a gay African-American woman. Available November 17, her latest film Mudbound vividly demonstrates she can extend her intimately emotional filmmaking to an epic scale. Continue reading…

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New York Film Festival 2017: Top Female Performances — Liz Whittemore reports

NYFF55-posterThis year’s festival was not lacking in gorgeously acted roles. Here is a list of 10 notable performances that I believe deserve attention. I will preface this list by saying I was unable to see Wonderstruck and Lady Bird. I am hearing nothing but praise for Julianne Moore‘s dual roles, newcomer Millicent Simmonds, and Saoirse Ronan. Of the 10 performances, only 7 films are represented. In no particular order, here are some ladies to be on the lookout for come awards season and beyond. Continue reading…

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