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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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 15, 2018: WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST

motw logo 1-35Some iconic personalities are so much larger than life that it’s easy to forget that they’re real people who’ve led real lives — which makes it all the more fascinating to learn those details and really get to know the person behind the personality. Such is the promise, and payoff, of Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, Lorna Tucker’s insightful, fascinating documentary about English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. 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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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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Australian Update: Rachel Ward to Direct PALM BEACH — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas Reports

Australian Film Day Reception - Palm Springs Film Fest 2010Although working steadily in a directorial capacity on Australian television for over a decade, Australian cinema icon Rachel Ward – renowned as much for her acting as her filmmaking – is making her much-anticipated return to the director’s chair in the newly announced feature Palm Beach. Following up from her celebrated 2009 feature Beautiful Kate, Palm Beach is co-written by Ward and the accomplished Australian playwright and novelist Joanna Murray-Smith. Boasting an impressive cast including Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi, Jacqueline McKenzie, Richard E. Grant, and both Ward’s husband Bryan Brown and daughter Matilda Brown, filming is soon to begin Sydney’s beautiful Palm Beach area shooting from late May to early July. 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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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: Clarkson to Helm STAR TREK 4, Swinton to Star in Weerasethakul Film, Khazanova’s directorial debut

S.J. Clarkson has been tapped to direct Star Trek 4, making her the first female to helm a film in the “Star Trek” franchise. Clarkson is known for her television work on Dexter, Bates Motel, Orange is the New Black, and the Marvel series The Defenders. Tilda Swinton will star in Memoria, the next feature film from Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Former Bolshoi ballerina Alisa Khazanova’s directorial debut feature film, a thriller titled Middleground, will get a theatrical and global VOD/Digital release beginning May 18. Read details 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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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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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 27, 2018: LET THE SUNSHINE IN

motw logo 1-35Claire Denis’ romantic dramedy Let the Sunshine In stars Juliette Binoche as Isabelle, a smart, sophisticated Parisian artist and divorcee who’s only missing one thing in her life: true love. She meets plenty of men who want to sleep with her, but there’s something off about all of them; some are married, some are too full of themselves to be able to properly nurture a partner, some are exes who should clearly stay that way. Continue reading…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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PACIFIC RIM UPRISING — Review by Susan Granger

Anticipation of the international box-office is what propelled this generic sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 epic “Pacific Rim,” which flopped in the United States but made millions overseas. Laden with special-effects, its sci-fi plot pitted humans against the Kaiju, which are alien-engineered sea monsters that emerged from a multidimensional gateway, known as the Breach, located on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. 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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion tops box office with BLACK PANTHER and A WRINKLE IN TIME — Brandy McDonnell reports

Ignore the headlines about Black Panther dominating A Wrinkle in Time at the box office. Yes, the commercial and critical juggernaut that is Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has topped earnings on the domestic cinema release list for the fourth consecutive week, relegating Ava DuVernay’s much-hyped adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s beloved femme-centric young-adult book into second place. But both movies are from Disney, which thus far has winning tickets in the inclusion category for 2018. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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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