EYE ON MEDIA: Keeping Up With Hugh Grant — Profile by Martha Nochimson

hugh grant head 2On IMDb.com, a biographical note by Steve Shelokhonov, who has made his mark, such as it is, as the author of IMDb mini-biographies, describes Hugh Grant as an actor known for “playing characters projecting warmth and sincere happiness.” It’s not an important piece of scholarship, but it is widely read, due to its venue, and it is, unfortunately, typical of the kind of entertainment journalism that promotes reductive stereotypes of star reputations. It’s undated, but couldn’t have been written much after 2003, so it grows out of Grant’s early work. Even so, it is a distortion. Continue reading on EYE ON MEDIA

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SPOTLIGHT AUGUST 2018: Emily Mortimer, Actress, Producer, Screenwriter and Loyal Feminist Colleague

emily_mortimer 018.tifEmily Mortimer’s new film, The Bookshop, releases theatrically this month, and she’s doing a lot of press. She is disarmingly charming. The the longer you speak with her, the more she seems to the quintessential English lady, one whose personality encompasses the casually polite and well-appointed elegance of a gal you might encounter on a commuter train from Oxford to Southhampton, along with the admirable qualities of stalwart Women’s Land Army volunteers who fed their country during World War II. Continue reading…

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MARC TURTLETAUB on PUZZLE, Kelly Macdonald and Women’s Roles — Sarah Knight Adamson interviews

As producer, Marc Turtletaub has been investing cash and cred in femme-centric feature films since 2004, standing behind award-winning films such as Little Miss Sunshine with Toni Collette and Abigail Breslin, and Loving with Ruth Negga among others. Sitting in the director’s chair for this year’s Puzzle, he’s brought to life a most memorable female character named Agnes, a doting albeit repressed housewife and mother who finds her sense of adventure, self-esteem and new meaning in life when she casually enters the realm of competitive jigsaw puzzling. As with Turtletaub’s other cinematic credits, a great measure of Puzzle’s success rests with the film’s leading lady, Kelly Macdonald, whose complex and nuanced performance as Agnes is funny and heartbreaking and entirely relatable. Here’s what he had to say in a chat with AWFJ’s Sarah Knight Adamson after the Chicago Film Critic’s Festival’s May 14 screening of the film at the Music Box Theater. Continue reading…

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Kimberly Reed on DARK MONEY — Nell Minow Interviews

kimberly reed 1We know “dark money” is distorting democracy but it is very hard to understand how and why, and how much damage it does. The very nature of dark money in political campaigns is secrecy. In the post-Citizens United world of unlimited, undisclosed political contributions by ultra-rich individuals and corporations, forces we cannot see now control even the most small-time local elections. Kimberly Reed (Prodigal Sons) shows us how the story of her home state of Montana in Dark Money, a powerful and profoundly disturbing story of tireless, courageous heroes and greedy villains who destroy without dark money poster ever being seen. She uses stunning images of the Montana landscape and Norman Rockwell-esque scenes in modest government buildings, newspaper offices, and courtrooms to show us how our most precious American institutions are being affected. In an interview, she talked about the challenges of making a very abstract, sometimes arcane story real on screen. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT July 2018: Jennifer Fox, Autobiographical Feminist Filmmaker, THE TALE

JENNIFER FOX HEAD 1There are many terms that one could apply to Jennifer Fox—courageous, determined, questioning—but the one she prefers is curious. Fox, whose breathtaking first feature, The Tale, dives into her own history of child sexual abuse, has let her curious nature lead her all over the world to find stories that illuminate both the particular and the universal. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Filmmaker Amy Scott talks HAL and Women in Hollywood — Brandy McDonnell interviews

amy scott hedshotAmy Scott was inspired to helm Hal, her first feature film, after reading Nick Dawson’s Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel. Chronicling the influential insider’s career, Scott’s documentary is an insightful chapter in Hollywood history. “It was a fascinating look at his life and his journey. And I just connected with Hal because he was an editor for a number of years, won an Oscar for editing ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ And he directed his first film when he was 40, and I thought, ‘Hmm, OK, it’s not too late,” Scott said. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Olivia Munn Receives Justice Award, Speaks Out on Equal Pay and #MeToo and More — Brandy McDonnell interviews

Olivia Munn, known for her onscreen work in HBO’s The Newsroom, in the X-Men film franchise and on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show returned to her home state of Oklahoma earlier this spring to be recognized for her leading lady role in Hollywood’s #MeToo moment. Munn, 37, received the inaugural Voice for Justice Award for her leadership and activism against sexual harassment in the workplace at the University of Oklahoma’s Women’s and Gender Studies Board of Advocates fourth annual Voices for Change gala. Read what Munn has to say about the #MeToo movement and quest for equal pay for women on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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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Talking RBG with Katie, age 8 — Interview by Betsy Bozdech

rbg poster 2Girls growing up in a world full of “She Persisted” T-shirts, Hilary Clinton bumper stickers, and books like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and Rad Women from A-Z may already know the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But they’re guaranteed to learn a lot more about “The Notorious RBG” from Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s energizing documentary RBG. I had the privilege of watching it with my 8-year-old daughter (who recognized some of the archival photos from her beloved copy of I Dissent) and talking about the film with her afterward. 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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Filmmaker Susan Walter on Preparation, Friendship and ALL I WISH — Nell Minow interviews

susan walterSusan Walter wrote and directed All I Wish, a romantic comedy that takes place on the same day each year, the birthday of Senna (Sharon Stone). Over seven years, we see the ups and downs of Senna’s relationship with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and sometime boyfriend (Tony Goldwyn) and her sustaining friendships. After graduating from Harvard, she learning filmmaking from the ground up in the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program. She’s worked on television (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Melrose Place, Cheers, Caroline in the City) and movies (House Arrest, Alien: Resurrection). All I Wish is her first feature. Here, she talks changing her script to give the lead role to the actress she’d originally wanted to play the mother, and about what she learned as a talent producer who walked actors to and from set for seven years. Continue reading…

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Chapman and Maclain Way talk WILD WILD COUNTRY, Bhagwan and Ma Anan Sheela — Jennifer Merin interviews

wild wild country posterThe Way Brothers’ six-part documentary, Wild Wild Country, chronicles the strange saga of self-proclaimed spiritual leader Bhagwan and his devotees, as they created a self-sustaining Utopian community in rural Oregon during the 1980s. Resenting their presence, local citizens and authorities pressured them to leave. Confrontations intensified, resulting in chaos and crime. Wild Wild Country is comprised of previously unseen archival footage shot inside the compound during the community’s heyday, intercut with on camera commentaries by surviving devotees and townees. The series is fascinating. So are the Brothers Way, who discuss making the documentary and their own conclusions about what this slice of history implies for American lifestyle and justice. Listen to my interview on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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LA CHANA — Review by Jennifer Merin

la chana posterCapturing all of the passion and personal expression that permeates flamenco and illuminates the dance form’s most engaging performers, Lucija Stojevic’s La Chana profiles the career and artistry of Antonia Santiago Amador, the hugely popular flamenco goddess revered by dance afficiandos for her force of nature spirit and extraordinary footwork. The great La Chana’s career peaked during the late 1960s, just before she inexplicably shunned her celebrity and mysteriously vanished from the dance world. Continue reading…

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Celebrating Women Cinematographers — Nikki Baughan reports

Rachel Morrison made history this year by becoming the first woman to be nominated for the best cinematography Oscar, for her raw, immersive work on Dee Rees’ Mudbound (2017). But that stellar achievement is something of a double-edged sword. It’s possible to be thrilled by her success, while also remaining frustrated that she’s the first woman to be so honoured by the Academy and that gender representation across all industry sectors remains so shameful. While the statistics are enduringly disheartening, women have been working tirelessly behind the camera since the earliest days of movies. So perhaps it’s time to replace that lament of ‘Where are the women?’ with a battle cry of ‘Here are the women’, to recognise and celebrate inclusivity were it exists, and to demand more of it. Continue reading….

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Ted Geohegan on Showing Respect in MOHAWK — Hope Madden interviews (Exclusive Guest Post)

Filmmaker Ted Geoghegan has been making horror movies since 2001 when he began writing primarily low-budget European horror. His award winning 2015 break out film. We Are Still Here, a haunted house tale starring beloved genre staple Barbara Crampton, marked him as a director worth attention. He leveraged that success to tell a story he’d been mulling for years, a genre hybrid that breaks new ground called Mohawk. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion is the 2018 Oscars theme, but Frances McDormand calls for more — Brandy McDonnell reports

Film Frances McDormandFrances McDormand undoubtedly sent people rushing to their Google search bars when she capped her Oscar acceptance with “two words: ‘inclusion rider.’” Most people are at least somewhat familiar with riders, which are provisional clauses in contracts, and an inclusion rider would be put into actors and other film workers’ contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in the hiring for the project. McDormand’s pointed comment epitomizes the overall theme of the 2018 Oscars, at which presenters and award winners continually made demands for inclusion and diversity, as well as equal opportunity and representation industry-wide. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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From The AWFJ Archive: MoMA’s Sally Potter Retrospective – Jennifer Merin comments

Let’s praise Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curator Sally Berger for putting together a remarkable and well-deserved retrospective (July 7 to 24) of the films and video of Sally Potter, the brilliant British feminist moviemaker with a genuinely unique and fascinating vision.
Potter‘s films are never easy escapes, and she’s often had mixed reviews, but as director, writer, actress, dancer, choreographer and composer, Potter is a rare entity: the complete cinematic artist. She invites you to profound emotional insights and transports you to uncharted realms of imagination and intellect. Continue reading…

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Daniela Vega and Sebastien Lelio on A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Jessica Zack interviews

daniela vega crossed legsIn conversation with Daniela Vega, it becomes understandable why the word “natural” comes up repeatedly. Her appearance may be fabulously stylish, but it’s clear that one of her motivating beliefs, in her own life as well as in her mesmerizing portrayal of Marina in A Fantastic Woman, is that “some things, some rights, are so universal, so natural, they shouldn’t even be questioned.” Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT February 2018: Daniela Vega, Star of A FANTASTIC WOMAN, Chile’s Oscar Contender

daniela vega head glamawfjspotlightsmallsmallTrailblazers whose groundbreaking accomplishments change the world, clearing the way for those who follow in their footsteps, are often reluctant to draw attention to themselves. Their motivation is simply to be allowed to be themselves. So it is with Daniela Vega, the first openly transgender actress and model in Chile, and star of the Oscar-nominated A Fantastic Woman. Continue reading…

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Annette Bening on Being Gloria Grahame — Joanna Schneller interviews

In Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Annette Bening tackles the scandalous film noir starlet. Crazy casting? After sitting down with Bening, it makes a lot of sense. Continue reading

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Filmmaker Alice Foulcher on Collaboration, Multitasking, Fame and THAT’S NOT ME — Interview by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Exclusive)

alice foulcher white shirtThat’s Not Me, the Australian independent comedy that premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and won audiences awards at both the Sydney Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival, was made with an extraordinarily low budget of $45,000 by filmmakers Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher. Receiving rave reviews from The Guardian and Time Out, the self-funded comedy seems to exemplify a trend in Australian cinema, where creatives are finding alternate ways of making movies outside the orthodox framework of notoriously genre-shy formal, institutionalized funding bodies. The local and international acclaim for Foulcher and Erdstein’s breakout film promises the creative couple a bright future, and Foulcher here takes time to discuss the background of That’s Not Me, her feelings about the film industry in Australia, collaboration, fame and future work. Continue reading…

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Donald Sutherland on THE LEISURE SEEKER and Other Matters — Johanna Schneller interviews

Donald Sutherland won’t be seeing his new film, The Leisure Seeker. He sees very few of his films. His characters don’t want him to. Continue reading…

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Aaron Sorkin chats MOLLY’S GAME and First Time Directing — Interview by Jessica Zack

Aaron Sorkin knows that anytime a writer or actor decides to step behind the camera for the first time, the first question is usually whether directing has always been his or her dream. So the Academy Award-winning screenwriter (“The Social Network”) and playwright (“A Few Good Men”) sat down for a recent interview with a preemptive response at the ready. Continue reading…

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