AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Maite Alberdi on THE GROWN-UPS

maite-alberdi-300x200Chilean documentarian Maite Alberdi’s uniquely intimate observational style give us an up close and personal glimpse into the world of four adults with Down syndrome, all of whom struggle to live more independently in a social structure that has confined them for 40 plus years in a special education school where they’ve been trained and mow work. In a most humane and compassionate way, the film embraces the dreams and frailties of its leading characters and exposes the ways in which socially conscious compassion and the need for expediency conflict in impacting the lives of people who don’t fit social ‘norms.’ Read Alberdi’s comments on making the filming The Grown Ups and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Coco Schrijber on HOW TO MEET A MERMAID

cococroppedsmallDutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber’s highly cinematic style and essay-like approach to filmmaking transforms her personal quest for resolution about her brother’s downing suicide into a profound contemplation of life-sustaining and death-dealing aspects of the sea. She evokes the unsolved mystery of Rebecca, a cruise ship employee who disappeared while her ship was at sea and the story of a Mexican surfer who is flying across the ocean to find more challenging waves on other shores to broaden her narrative. Read what Coco Schrijber has to say about the film and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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Rufus Sewell on THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and Donald Trumph — Gill Pringle interviews

Rufus Sewell, 49, has received some of the best reviews of his career for his role as Obergruppenführer John Smith in Amazon Prime’s The Man in The High Castle. Loosely based on a Philip K Dick novel, it poses an alternative history of North America if the Nazis had won the Second World War. It’s little surprise that the Donald Trump campaign was one of the main advertisers on the show, about which he says, “I don’t think that’s an accident.” Read more>>

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob on VENUS

mettecarla-and-lea-cropped-300x216Danish filmmakers Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob explore the subject of young women’s sexuality by setting up an open ‘casting call’ at which they interview the film’s subjects about their sexual experiences and attitudes towards sexuality and their bodies as they develop from adolescence to womanhood. Through this compilation of interviews, the filmmakers contemplate their own attitudes towards sex, and offer the opportunity for women who see the film to do as, as well. Read what they have to say about Venus and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Lucija Stojevic on LA CHANA

lucija-stojevic-smallLucija Stojevic’s La Chana profiles the career and artistry of Antonia Santiago Amador, the hugely popular flamenco dancer, revered by dance afficiandos for her passionate spirit and extraordinary footwork. Her career peaked during the late 1960s, before she inexplicably vanished from the dance world and celebrity. Stojevic delves into Amador’s complex personality by intertwining spectacular footage of her emotional performances with current footage of her quiet live in Barcelona, coaching talented young dancers and preparing a comeback recital — and revealing, for the first time, why she stepped out of the spotlight at the height of her career. La Chana is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film. Read Lucija Stojevic’s comments about La Chana on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Elvira Diaz on EL PATIO

elvira-diazFilmmaker Elvira Diaz was born in 1975 in France, after her father fled from Chile as a political refugee. El Patio is her third documentary about the consequences of Pinochet’s dictatorship on witnesses and victims’ lives. In the film, she follows aging gravediggers as they reveal, for the first time, their haunting memories of surreptitiously burying ‘disappeared persons’ during the dark days of the Pinochet regime. The film is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award of 2,500 Euros. Read Diaz’s comments about making the film on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Alice Schmid on THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ANZI

alice-schmid-headshotAlice Schmid, filmmaker and novelist, tells stories from around the globe, mostly focusing on children. The Girl Down Lock Anzi, nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award, is set in rural Switzerland, where 12- year-old Laura is fascinated by and works up the courage to explore a legend about a maiden who is supposedly imprisoned in caves close to her family’s farm. The film is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award of 2,500 Euros. Alice Schmid comments about making the film and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE

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EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Alice Schmid on THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ANZI

alice-schmid-headshotAlice Schmid, filmmaker and novelist, tells stories from around the globe, mostly focusing on children. Say No (1993) is a film classic on child abuse. Working in Liberia and Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2002, she showed the lives of child soldiers. In Letter to Grown-Ups (1994) she followed a child through the mine-fields of Cambodia. In Every Drop For The Future (1996), she accompanied a Bolivian girl on her two-hour walk to school. Schmid’s latest documentary, The Girl Down Loch Anzi, is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film. Read her comments about the film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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SPOTLIGHT November, 2016: Ally Derks, IDFA Founder, Documentaries Mogul and innovator

awfjspotlightsmallsmallallyderksIDFA’s founder and director Ally Derks is in the AWFJ SPOTLIGHT this month, as she helms the 2016 festival from November 16 to 29. During her 30-year tenure at IDFA, Derks has built the festival into the world’s preeminent documentaries showcase, marketplace and pitch forum, with year round programs to develop the art of documentary filmmaking and broaden its horizons. This will be the last IDFA under Derk’s direction, as she leaves the organization to spend 2017 living and working in Berlin as an invited fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy, an institution of the prestigious Robert Bosch Stiftung. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT October 2016: Bonni Cohen, Acclaimed Director and Producer

Bonni CohenThe filmmaking team of Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk explore the results of social media bullying with the new thought-provoking, conversation-starting documentary, Audrie & Daisy.

The documentary, which is currently streaming on Netflix, focuses primarily on two teenage sexual assault victims who had their humiliation made public via Facebook and other online social media outlets. The documentary should be considered a must-see for high school students, and the filmmakers should be applauded for their approach to this disturbing topic. Read on.

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Emily Blunt on THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN — Gill Pringle interviews

EMILY Blunt gasped in horror when she first saw her transformation into a blotchy-faced alcoholic trainwreck, the unlikely heroine of The Girl on the Train. “It was hard seeing myself look so awful. I came into work with no make-up and they would make me look even worse, adding rosacea and bags. I could barely look at my own reflection.” Read more>>

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Women Defy Odds and Demand Room at TIFF Table — Thelma Adams comments

Fuck buzz. That’s how I feel addressing Toronto’s female-driven movies, whether directed by women or not. Because buzz reflects the 80 percent male gender bias, writing about film fails to connect meaningfully with the real audience that is—duh, ask your mothers—50 percent female. For me, the greatest metaphor for the plight of women film artists is Aisling Walsh’s Maudie, an intense wee biopic about the outsider artist Maud Lewis with an Oscar-ripe performance from the great empath Sally Hawkins. (“If it weren’t for Hawkins,” condescends Variety’s Peter Debruge, “there would be little to distinguish Maudie from the sort of 16mm filmstrip made for schoolchildren back in the day.” Wrong!) Read more>>

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SPOTLIGHT September 2016: Vera Farmiga, Actress and Filmmaker

Vera FarmigaVera Farmiga earned an Oscar nomination as well as AWFJ, BAFTA, Broadcast Film Critics, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globe nominations for her outstanding work in 2009’s Up in the Air. But that was just the tip of the awards iceberg as Farmiga’s been recognized for her impressive work in diverse roles by film critics and awards organizations worldwide throughout her 20+ year career. Read on>>.

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Maiwenn on MY KING and Bringing the Female Gaze to the Director’s Chair – Thelma Adams interviews

maiwennFrench filmmaker Maiwenn, 40, set me straight: it’s no easier being a female director in France than in America. The toothy Parisienne beauty in the polka-dot blouse and jeans explained: “As much as I can say I’m a victim of misogyny I don’t want to be a spokesperson, I don’t want to be a militant, I don’t want to make documentaries.” Read more>>

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SPOTLIGHT August, 2016: Margot Benacerref, Filmmaker and Cultural Activist

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Auteur filmmaker Margot Benacerraf is in the AWFJ SPOTLIGHT this month to celebrate her 90th birthday on August 14, and to honor her extraordinary career as filmmaker and cultural activist. Benacerref first came to prominence on the international cinema scene in 1959, when her first feature film, Araya, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where she was a novice director and the only female filmmaker included in the competition. That year, Araya shared the Cannes International Critics Prize with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour. Read on…

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Kathriyn Bostic and Miriam Cutler Talk About the Alliance of Women Film Composers — Liz Whittemore Interviews

AWFC_logo_B_on_W_400x85I had the wonderful opportunity to interview two board members of the Alliance of Women Film Composers (AWFC), a group I consider to be sister to AWFJ. AWFC’s mission statement is as follows:

Through advocacy, support and education, the Alliance for Women Film Composers aims to increase the visibility of women composers active in media scoring. The AFWC advocates for the inclusion of women composers within industry events; supports filmmakers, game developers and studios in their inclusion of women composers; and educates, mentors and inspires emerging women composers.
I spoke with Kathryn Bostic and Miriam Cutler about the challenges and advantages of this unique group of women in the industry. Read more…
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SPOTLIGHT, July 2016: Meera Menon, Director of EQUITY

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The all-female “Ghostbusters” remake has captured the mainstream media buzz this summer, but the true feminist statement of the season is to be found in another July release, Equity. It is the sophomore effort of director Meera Menon, and it presents a powerful and thrilling feminist drama about women working in the male-dominated environs of Wall Street. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Film Editor Carol Littleton Take on ET and Feminism — Brandy McDonnell reports

Carol LittletonIn the eight years she worked in the film industry before landing the job as editor on Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Carol Littleton dealt with both sexism and nepotism. But she refused to give up on her interesting moviemaking career. “I’ve never been militant about being feminist, but I am, and I have found ways to work as a woman in the film industry that was, certainly when I started, primarily men. I’ve worked in a man’s world the whole time, and I’ve just learned to be very patient, be very clear about how I see things and not be belligerent. That doesn’t get anybody anywhere.” Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMAN

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Athina Rachel Tsangari on CHEVALIER and Competition — Pam Grady interviews

athina rachel tsangariIt takes a woman — Greek writer-director Athina Rachel Tsangari (“Attenberg”) — to take the measure of men in Chevalier, her absurd comedy set on a luxurious yacht. Six men, apparently thrown together by a blend of business and familial obligations on a spearfishing vacation, drift off the coast of Greece and come up with a game to while away the time. They will determine who is “the best in general,” a competition that pits man against man as they take the measure of absolutely everything, from sporting prowess to sleeping posture, a rivalry that undermines the group’s bonhomie and comes to consume them. “It’s almost like a likability contest. It’s almost like a floating Facebook,” said Tsangari during a visit to the Bay Area, where Chevalier screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival. “Competition is just natural,” Tsangari said. “It’s what we do from kindergarten.” Read more…

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Ethan Hawke on How River Phoenix Inspired a Chapter in His Children’s Book – Julide Tanriverdi reports

Who knew Ethan Hawke had an aversion to rules? Speaking to New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein Sunday as part of Vulture Festival, the acclaimed actor confessed that he once was “allergic” to them. Which is precisely why he ended up writing the book Rules for a Knight for his four children. It all started when Hawke had trouble introducing some house rules at home. Read more>>

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SPOTLIGHT June 2016: Susanna White, Director, OUR KIND OF TRAITOR


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Hot on the heels of Susanne Bier’s tense miniseries The Night Manager comes Our Kind of Traitor, a second suspenseful John le Carré adaptation to be directed by a woman, British filmmaker Susanna White. A couple on holiday—Ewan McGregor as poetry professor Perry and Naomie Harris as high-profile lawyer Gail—risk their own lives to help Russian money launderer Dima, played by a scene-stealing Stellan Skarsgård, defect to the UK. A lifelong fan of thrillers the opportunity to direct one herself as her sophomore feature—her first was Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)—was one White couldn’t resist. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Jennifer Lopez spurs discussion of double standards — Brandy McDonnell Comments

JENNIFER LOPEZ 1Jennifer Lopez fights the diva label and ponders “I’ve always been fascinated by how much more well-behaved we have to be than men” in an actress roundtable discussion convened by The Hollywood Reporter. Lopez’s comments lead to the consideration of behavioral double standards. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Kelly Reichart’s mid-career retrospective — Dorothy Woodend reports

kelly reichert 2The five-film program at Vancouver’s Cinematheque captures Reichert’s characteristic balance of sorrow and joy in a world of hard times and bad choices. The program, spanning almost the length of Reichardt’s career thus far, presents Old Joy (2006), Wendy and Lucy (2008), Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Night Moves (2013) — which were all co-written with her writing partner, Jon Raymond — and her first feature, River of Grass (1994), in a new restoration. Read more>>

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Christy Beam Talks About MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN and Being the Subject of a Movie — Diana Saenger Interviews

Christy Beam.   Photo by Sunny Mays Photography

Christy Beam. Photo by Sunny Mays Photography

Miracles From Heaven, adapted by Randy Brown from the book by Christy Wilson Beam, became a movie with a surprising true story that has enthralled moviegoers all over the world. Domestic Total as of May,1, 2016 was $59,657,409. How does one explain the impossible was a question Beam faced when she decided to write her family story regarding their journey through faith, fear and pain of their daughter Annabel’s chronic illness? Beam set aside time to be interviewed about this experience. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT May 2016: Rachel Rosen, Programmer, San Francisco International Film Festival

awfjspotlightsmallsmallrachel rosen 1The San Francisco International Film Festival, the oldest film festival in North America, is a whirl of activity in the midst of its 59th season. San Francisco Film Society Director of Programming Rachel Rosen is in her element. This has been her world for 25 years, ever since the seasonal festival work she took while getting her MA in documentary film at Stanford University led to a career as a film programmer. Her influence has been felt not just at the San Francisco Film Society and San Francisco International Film Festival, but also at New York’s Film Forum and at Film Independent and the Los Angeles Film Festival, where she was director of programming for eight years. As the 15-day SIFF heads into its second week, Rosen takes a break from festival routine to talk about women in the world of film festivals. Read on…

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