THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood’s sexist ways and box-office prospects — Brandy McDonnell comments

It’s been a lackluster summer at the domestic box office, and it may just be that Hollywood’s failure to adapt to the reality that women moviegoers want to see more movies starring women that has at least in part caused this summer’s blahs. Warner Bros. Pictures, however, reached a rare milestone this weekend by exceeding the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office. The studio owes a lot of its 2017 success to the superheroic performance of Wonder Woman, which surpassed Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” to become the summer’s highest-grossing film with $389 million. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Chicago Documentary Program Empowers Female Filmmakers — Chaz Ebert reports

chaz filmmakers croppedFew programs inspire me more than those committed to empowering the voices of future filmmakers, and especially those that empower the voices of female filmmakers. That is the goal of the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) Program in Documentary Filmmaking. Held during the summer at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts, this five-week program is designed for female high school students living in Chicago’s CHA housing. The program prepares young women to become future documentarians by instructing them on everything from aesthetics to technical skills. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 21-28: 500 YEARS

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500 Years is the third film in director Pamela Yates’ trilogy about Guatemala. Expansive in its coverage, and impassioned about its subject, the film is very much a classic social justice documentary, right down to the final scenes of enormous crowds thronging the city streets, demanding change. Continue reading…

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Melbourne International Film Festival 2017′s PIONEERING WOMEN Program — Jennifer Merin reports

miff logo 1The success of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014) focused international attention on Australian women filmmakers. Australia’s film feminism is being celebrated this year in special programming at the country’s two major film festivals — in the upcoming Melbourne International Film Festival’s (MIFF, August 3-30, 2017) focus on female-directed films from the 1980s and 90s, and with the just finishing Sydney Film Festival’s (June 7-18, 2017) roster of femme-helmed films from the 1960s and 70s. Continue reading

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Whittaker lands DOCTOR WHO, DuVernay teases WRINKLE and Henson joins WRECK-IT — Brandy McDonnell reports

The 13th Doctor is in, and the iconic science fiction series finally has a female lead. Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th time lord on the long-running Doctor Who series. Ava DuVernay revealed the first trailer for her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time at D23, the Disney fan expo in Anaheim, California. The science fiction thriller also has female leads. Storm Reid stars as Meg, with Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey as supernatural guides on Meg’s inter-dimensional journey to rescue her father. In good casting news, Taraji. P. Henson joins the Wreck-It Ralph sequel and Lily James joins the Mamma Mia! follow-up. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Geena Davis, Alicia Silverstone and New Stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

Geena Davis celebrates 25th anniversary of ‘A League of Their Own,’ while Alicia Silverstone reflects on the legacy of ‘Clueless.’ Plus, Jennifer, Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, Carrie Underwood, Kirsten Dunst, Taraji P. Henson and more will get stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE VILLAINESS — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

the villainess posterThe reputation of South Korean genre film has been growing exponentially as a force to be reckoned with. The Cannes Film Festival has proven a fertile space for the release of the best the country has on offer to Western markets, and following the success of Yeon-Sang-ho’s extraordinary zombie film Train to Busan in 2016, Cannes’ Midnight Screenings this year featured Jung Byung-gil’s high-octane female-centred action movie The Villainess. Starring Kim Ok-bin (most immediately recognisable from her performance in Park Chan-wook’s 2009 film Thirst), The Villainess by some accounts received a four-minute standing ovation when it screened at Cannes, fuelled no doubt as much by admiration for the film itself as it was a sheer biological necessity to release the film’s near-palpable, contagious energy. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: ‘Wonder Woman’ sets more records, ‘The Beguiled’ tests female vs. male gazes, and more

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, the first full-fledged cinematic outing for the venerable superhero, achieved another milestone, becoming the highest-grossing film within the DC Extended Universe films. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled tests female vs. male gazes, while comparing the careers of Colin Trevorrow and Mimi Leder tests the patience of female film fans. And Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana and Shonda Rhimes are among the women to earn 2018 stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7 – 14: LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD

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The word indefatigable may well have been fashioned for the likes of Gertrude Bell. At a time, when women were largely confined to the domestic sphere, Bell climbed mountains, rode camels, palled about with Lawrence of Arabia, and penned letters, mountains of them, all the while dressed in impeccable fashion.Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT July 2017: Claire McCarthy, Filmmaker, OPHELIA

awfjspotlightsmallsmallclaire mccarthy 2Outside Oz, Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy is known primarily for her 2009 film The Waiting City, starring Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton as a couple in disarray as they travel to India to take delivery of a child they have adopted. But McCarthy’s broader filmography even more forcefully underscores why she is the perfect director for the upcoming Ophelia project, Hamlet retold from the perspective of Shakespeare’s iconically tragic ingenue as played by Daisy Ridley. As Michelle Hannett reported from Cannes in May, the film is one of the most highly anticipated for 2018 release. Continue reading…

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WATCHING GENDER: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids’ Development — Betsy Bozdech reports

It’s no secret that what kids see on screens has an impact on what they believe and who they become. That’s particularly true when it comes to gender; media that perpetuates rigid gender roles and stereotypes can affect kids’ sense of self, relationships, and career aspirations. Common Sense Media’s new research brief, “Watching Gender,” explores the effects of gender-biased media (specifically in TV and movies) on children’s development. It’s all part of the Gender Equity Is Common Sense initiative, which will lead to the creation of new tools and strategies to promote positive role models and representations for kids everywhere. Continue reading…awfj gender image study

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Patty Jenkins and WONDER WOMAN Lasso Records — Brandy McDonnell reports

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman. The superhero adventure eclipsed the $609.8 million racked up by 2008’s Mamma Mia!, the Abba movie musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Since Jenkins directed Charlize Theron to Oscar victory with her acclaimed biopic Monster (2003), she’s directed episodes of television’s Arrested Development and Entourage, and the Emmy-nominated pilot for The Killing, but she has had to wait 14 years before directing another feature film. Wake up, Hollywood! Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Two — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Now we ask them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet? Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News Wrap: “Wonder Woman” soars, “Mummy” stumbles, plus Cowperthwaite, DuVernay and Winfrey — Brandy McDonnell reports

Wonder Woman” really unwrapped “The Mummy” at this week’s box office, while Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s “Megan Leavey” took an unexpectedly big bite of the take, too — again proving to Hollywood that American filmgoers — both women and men — love seeing women’s stories on the big screen. Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey speak out for diversity and inclusion. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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SPOTLIGHT June 2017: Amber Tamblyn, Actress, Poet, Director of PAINT IT BLACK

awfjspotlightsmallsmallamber jeans 2If courage had a name, it would be Amber Tamblyn. Her unblinkingly honest artistic achievements are legion.

The 34-year-old actress just made her directorial and screenwriting debut with Paint It Black, an emotionally charged drama about the relationship between a vulnerable young woman (Alia Shawkat) and her lover’s possessive mother (Janet McTeer) following his untimely death. As the film was releasing theatrically in May, Tamblyn hit the New York boards for the first time, starring off-Broadway in Can You Forgive Her?, penned by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Gina Gionfriddo. And, Tamblyn’s third book of poetry, Dark Sparkler, published in 2015, considers the dehumanizing myth-making surrounding more than 25 actresses who died young, including Marilyn Monroe, Brittany Murphy and Thelma Todd. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Jenkins and Coppola Make Movie History

Between Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and Sofia Coppola’ The Beguiled, the past two weeks have been benchmark for female filmmakers. Wonder Women is the highest earning female director, and The Beguiled won prizes for Coppola at Cannes. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, May 26 to June 2, 2017: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

motw logo 1-35Twenty years after it cleaned up at the box office while simultaneously polarizing critics, Luc Besson’s colorful, action-packed sci-fi extravaganza is as bonkers as ever. It has elements that are reminiscent of both “Total Recall” (1990) and “Stargate” (1994), but “The Fifth Element” is loudly, proudly its own beast — and it all hinges on Milla Jovovich’s iconic performance. Continue reading…

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Bentonville Film Festival 2017: Diversity, Inclusion, and Women Everywhere! — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100Founded in 2015 by actress/gender-equality advocate Geena Davis and ARC Entertainment executive Trevor Drinkwater, the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) concluded its third annual week of, as it proudly says in its mission statement, “championing women and diverse voices in media.” The 2017 festival ran from May 2-7, with 70 films — episodic content, shorts, and feature-length dramas and documentaries — competing in several jury- and audience-awarded categories. Continue reading…

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Cannes First Look: OPHELIA — Michelle Hannett reports

Currently in production in Prague, here’s a first look at director Claire McCarthy’s Ophelia, starring Daisy Ridley.

Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova

Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova

Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, Ophelia is a dynamic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Continue reading…

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ DOXA 2017: The Winners!

As DOXA 2017 draws to a close, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists is delighted to announce the winners of this year’s EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Feature and Best Female-Directed Short’ both presented at the festival’s awards ceremony on Saturday, May 13 in Vancouver. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: MANKILLER sets Premier, Female Directors at LAFF and DOXA, Robbie’s DREAMLAND

Mankiller, a documentary about Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, will premiere in July at LA Film Festival, which also boasts that 42 percent of its programmed films are directed by women. Margot Robbie is set to produce and star in Dreamland, a heist thriller. Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival recognizes women directors with AWFJ EDA Awards and other honors. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Heather White on COMPLICIT

HEATHER WHITEWhile people in the West use smartphones to live healthier, happier lives, the construction of such devices has horrific health effects on the people who actually make them. Complicit shines a light on the dark irony of the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced, including 70% of its cell phones. Read what Complicit co-direcxtor Heather White has to say about her compelling expose on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Jessica Kingdon on COMMODITY CITY

JESSICA KINGDON DOXA HEADChina’s Yiwu Market is one of the largest shopping complexes in the world. Gorgeously shot, thematically focused and politically resonant, Jessica Kingdon’s ethnographic essay film blurs the boundary between consumer goods and the humans who sell them. Malls consume more than they are consumed, Small spaces, time lost,immersion in distraction. Read what Jessica Kingdon has to say about the making and meaning of her film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Julia Hechler on LES CLOYS

julia hechler doxa2017In a particular Parisian neighborhood, residents have devised a means of establishing their own cultural identity and reclaiming their person power through the creation of a slanguage they call Verlan (back to front). American filmmaker Julia Hechler captures their trending tongue on film. Read what she has to say about the importance of language, getting to know your subjects and her next career moves on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Cat Mills on FIXED!

cat mills doxa filmmakerRepair cafes are popping up around the world as a community-based antidote to throwaway culture. In Cat Mills’ EDA Award-nominated short, Fixed!, we get a glimpse inside Canada’s first repair cafe in Toronto, where a team of dedicated volunteers are helping their neighbors, one fix at a time. Read what she has to say about her beautifully crafted film, its riveting subjects, and her career. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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