TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

tifers are not afraid posterWith her 2017 feature Tigers are Not Afraid, Mexican filmmaker Issa López became the first woman to ever win the Best Horror Director award at Austin’s Fantastic Fest where it premiered. López’s potent and deeply beautiful film tells the story of a group of children abandoned as a result of the brutal dominance of a powerful drug cartel in their urban Mexican neighbourhood. Centred around an extraordinary performance by young actor Paola Lara in her feature film debut, she plays eleven-year-old Estrella who – like many of the children with whom she unites in an attempt to survive a world of unimaginable violence and pain – while often fearless, must necessarily negotiate her experiences from her youthful perspective. Continue reading…

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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Supergirl Soars, Gal Gadot Speaks, SAG-AFTRA Counsels — Brandy McDonnell reports

Look! Up in the sky and on the big screen: Warner Bros and DC are developing a feature film based around Supergirl. The similarly superpowered cousin of Superman, will finally get a chance at silver-screen redemption after the fizzle of her widely planned 1984 film starring Helen Slater. Gal Gadot fans will hear the Wonder Woman star’s voice as the tough and gritty Shank in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Ralph Breaks the Internet, which hits theaters this Thanksgiving. SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation are working together to provide workplace sexual harassment counseling services for members of the union. The services are administered by trained counselors at The Actors Fund, a national human services organization for entertainment, media and performing arts professionals. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 9 TO 5 sequel, ‘CHARLIE’S ANGELS’ reboot, RGB and OCEAN’S 8 at home — Brandy McDonnell Reports

The hours may be different these days, but Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton are going back to work for a 9 to 5 sequel. Rashida Jones is attached to co-write a script with original screenwriter Patricia Resnick. Kristen Stewart and British newcomer Ella Balinska are cast as the new team in the latest iteration of Charlie’s Angels, with Elizabeth Banks directing as co-starring as Bosley. RBG, the documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, comes to DVD and Blu-ray next month, while Mimi Leder’s Ginsburg biopic, On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones, is due in theaters December 25. Ocean’s 8, the all-female iteration of the action adventure franchise. is due out soon on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD Special Edition and Digital. Read the full stories on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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Fork Films Funds 16 Femme-Helmed and/or Produced Documentaries — Jennifer Merin reports

fork films logoAbigail Disney’s Fork Films is dividng $625,000 in grants among 16 new documentaries that align with the company’s dedication to promoting peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice. All are directed and or produced by women. Selected from 500 applicants, the chosen films address topics ranging from refugee and immigration stories, to incarceration, civil rights, disability rights and media depictions of transgender people, as well as other timely topics. The unprecedented number of applications indicates growing demand for nonfiction storytelling in this turbulent time. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Fisher in STAR WARS IX, Rothwell joins in WONDER WOMAN 1984, Hodson writes BIRDS OF PREY — Brandy McDonnell reports

Although Carrie Fisher filmed some powerful Leia moments for Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi before she died, there’s no doubt that one of the tragedies of her sudden passing is the missed opportunity to delve more deeply into the character she became most known and beloved for playing. With support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, some of the unused, previously unseen footage shot for Episode VII will be included in the upcoming Episode IX, to honor Carrie’s legacy and her iconic role as Leia Organa. Natasha Rothwell (HBO’s Insecure) joins Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, along with fellow franchise newcomer Kristen Wiig and returning Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Tapped to script Margot Robbie’s , Christina Hodson says having a woman write the Harley Quinn spin off changes everything for the colorful DC Comics character. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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What’s Up Down Under? Cate Shortland Scores Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

cate shortland head 1After a distinct spike in the rumor-mill in mid-June regarding the likelihood of Australian director Cate Shortland directing the much-anticipated Marvel Black Widow stand-alone film, a month later the news was confirmed. Shortland’s previous features Somersault (2004), Lore (2012), and Berlin Syndrome (2017) all center on strong women characters, and despite their low production values when compared to the usual superhero blockbuster fare, Shortland’s ability to craft sophisticated yet accessible women characters was no doubt a key factor in her attaining the job. Shortland won the high-profile Black Widow job over some impressive competition, including British filmmaker Amma Asante of 2016′s acclaimed A United Kingdom, and Maggie Betts, whose 2017 debut feature Novitiate was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Leder to direct Witherspoon/Ansiton series, Robertson-Dworet adapts ARTEMIS for film, Disney sparks girl filmmakers — Brandy McDonnell reports

Mimi Leder will executive produce and direct Apple’s as-yet-untitled morning drama series, rounding up an all-female core creative team under showrunner, executive producer and writer, Kerry Ehrin, and starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Captain Marvel screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet is set to adapt Andy Weir’s science-fiction novel Artemis for the screen. Artemis, Weir’s follow up to his popular The Martian is a futuristic heist thriller set in the late 2080s in Artemis, first and only city on the Moon. Disney’s new #DreamBigPrincess project will giving 21 talented young women from different corners of the globe the chance to make digital shorts telling the stories of inspiring female role models. The series will be shared across Disney’s global media platforms as part of a campaign to unlock up to a $1 million donation to Girl Up, an initiative of the UN Foundation. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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STATUS REPORT: Female Film Critics are Still Outnumbered — Jennifer Merin reports

Dr. Martha M. Lauzen‘s latest study, Thumbs Down 2018: Film Critics and Gender, and Why It Matters, conducted and published by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, shows that male film critics outnumber female by two to one. More specifically, men comprise 68 percent of US-based film reviewers, while women are just 32 percent. The report also found that men outnumber women in every job category, including critics, freelancers, editors and contributors. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News about Cate Shortland, Julianne Moore and Emmy Awards — Brandy McDonnell reports

Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland has been tapped to helm Black Widow, which will finally let Scarlett Johansson’s clever and capable assassin-turned-Avenger stand in her own spotlight instead of lurking in the shadow of the guys. Oscar winner Julianne Moore is in negotiations to join Amy Adams in The Woman in the Window, Fox 2000’s adaptation of A.J. Finn.’s book. The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards announced Thursday, indicate encouraging strides for women and people of color. More than a third of the 101 acting nominations went to ethnic minorities, up from a quarter of the field last year. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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A KID LIKE JAKE — Review by Susan Granger

Originating as an Off-Broadway play in which the titular character never appears, this family drama curiously lacks credibility because there’s too little focus on young Jake. Set in Brooklyn, the story revolves around lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Alex (Claire Danes) and her therapist husband Greg (Jim Parsons). They’re perplexed and defensive when their four year-old son, Jake (Leo James Davis), expresses a definitive preference for dressing in Disney princess costumes and playing with so-called girls’ toys. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Keri Russell, Salma Hayek and “Bao” Filmmaker Domee Shi making News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Golden Globe winner Keri Russell is reportedly in talks to head to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Episode IX, in a role that calls for action-heavy fight scenes. Ordered by Netflix, Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions will produce Monarca, an original drama series from Mexico. The series is a high-stakes, multi-generational family saga about a tequila-born Mexican business empire and the fighting that erupts when a member of the family decides to fight the dirty system her family helped to create. Domee Shi, whose innovative and emotive short, Bao. is playing in theaters with Incredibles 2, is Pixar’s first short film director. She began as a storyboarding intern at Pixar seven years ago and is now working on her own feature film. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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 WEEK IN WOMEN: News about FAITH, Ritter and AMPAS — Brandy McDonnell reports

It looks like Hollywood is finally embracing a comic-book heroine who doesn’t look like a voluptuous stick woman with the mold-breaking superhero Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr, set to soar on onto the big screen in a live-action adaptation of Faith, the first prominent plus-sized female superhero to grace the pages of Valiant Comics. Speaking of superheroes, Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter will make her directorial debut on a Season 3 episode of the Marvel Netflix series. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences boost the percentage of women members with its record-setting 2018 invitations list. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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AWARDS INTELLIGENCER: Early Oscars Buzz for LEAVE NO TRACE — Jennifer Merin reports

debra granik headBeloved by Sundance and other top film festivals, as well as by the Academy and indie awards organizations and a long list of awards-presenting critics groups, Debra Granik is attracting early Oscars buzz for Leave No Trace, her third narrative feature. AWFJ selected Leave No Trace as Movie of the Week for June 29, and an informal poll of AWFJ members shows that the film is placing high on most members’ lists of best 2018 films to date. AWFJ says Leave No Trace has legs that will lead to Oscars, come awards season. Continue reading on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: DGA’s Shameful Stats, Baltimore Femme Film Initiative and Ry Russo-Young — Brandy McDonnell reports

The Directors Guild of America’s recent released study shows that of 651 feature films released in 2017 with ticket sales of at least $250,000, 12 percent of the directors were women. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of female movie directors has basically been stuck in the 8 to 16 percent range. The Baltimore-based fledgling Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media at Johns Hopkins might shift the stats by awarding nine Baltimore-based women filmmakers production grants totaling $400,000. Filmmaker Ry Russo-Young may also move the needle with her The Sun Is Also A Star, now in production. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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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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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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Lena Waithe, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Natalie Dormer Making News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Lena Waithe, the first woman of color to win an Emmy for best writing in a comedy series for her work on Master of None will receive MTV’s Trailblazer Award, presented to honor content creators who introduce new and unique voices within the entertainment industry. Waithe, who starred in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, is the creator, writer and producer of Showtime’s The Chi.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, showrunner for BBC America’s new drama Killing Eve is opening opportunity for women on camera by swapping out male characters for compelling and complex female leads. Natalie Dormer is set to star as Vivien Leigh in an upcoming series focusing on the iconic Gone with The Wind star’s personal and professional successes and struggles. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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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