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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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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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion Rules Box Office, Robbie in Production, Kudos to Munn — Brandy McDonnell reports

Films with women or minorities in lead roles led the box office 11 out of the first 12 weekends this year, compared to 2017, when the same 12-week period had only five weekend dominated by films with women or minorities in the lead. The more than double change is a another good indicator that inclusion is a winning strategy. Margot Robbie is turning her I Tonya box office prowess into classical clout by
partnering with the Australian Broadcasting Company and others to a new 10-part series retelling William Shakespeare’s tales from female perspectives. Olivia Munn is being honored by her alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, for speaking out against sexual harassment. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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: More Women at Marvel, Wiig as Villain in WONDER WOMAN 2, BREADWINNER Advocates at UN — Brandy McDonnell reports

When the Marvel series “Jessica Jones” launched its second season last week on Netflix, Krysten Ritter’s titular antihero wasn’t the only awesome woman fans could watch work. For Season 2, the series recruited female directors to helm all 13 episodes, per showrunner Melissa Rosenberg. Kristen Wiig is set to deliver her considerable talents to the set of Wonder Woman 2 — as an arch villian. Angelina Jolie‘s The Breadwinner screened for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at a sold out event: “Women’s Rights Impact Cinema: Moving from Empathy to Action,” showing that movies directed by women matter. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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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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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Strong Women behind BLACK PANTHER, Chenoweth joins TRIAL & ERROR, kids get free tix for A WRINKLE IN TIME — Brandy McDonnell reports

Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” has been garnering praise for its mostly African-American cast and its depiction of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. But this superhero movie isn’t just a testosterone-fest. It is a showcase for smart, dynamic and capable women who are the power behind the mythical nation’s throne. Kristen Chenoweth is set to show her strength in season two of Trial & Error. And free tickets will be distributed to underprivileged kids so they can see and be inspired by Ava DuVernay‘s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2018: Rachel Morrison, Cinematographer, Oscar Nominee for MUDBOUND

rachel morrison head 2Bringing a moving image to life takes much more than having the technical skills down pat. Capturing that collection of indelible images requires another special skillset – one that isn’t necessarily taught in school. It requires an understated ability to tap into the director’s vision and the actors’ emotions to produce breathtaking visual poetry. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s impressive body of work has long exhibited these traits. Rachel Morrison is a monumental cinematographer whose work is illuminated with nuance. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: A Guide to Seeing This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscars goldThe 90th Oscars will be handed out Sunday at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central / 5 p.m. Pacific Time. There’s still time to catch up on seeing the nominees in theaters and on smaller screens before the big event. See our guide on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You may also be interested in reading about AWFJ’s 2018 Oscar Predictions.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 2, 2018: OH LUCY!

motw logo 1-35A poignant ode to the need for human connection, Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy! (based on her own 2014 short film) is a quirky dramedy about a Tokyo office worker named Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima). When her solitary life is disrupted by a rather unusual English class taught by hug-happy American John (Josh Hartnett) — who gives her a curly blonde wig and an American name, Lucy — Setsuko starts down a path she never would have anticipated. Continue reading…

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AWFJ’s 2018 Oscar Predictions For Winners in Seven Categories

oscars goldOur impromptu poll is neither mandatory nor universal, and the AWFJ members who’ve sent in their 2018 Oscars predictions have very varied opinions about which nominees will prevail on this year’s golden day. They’ve also specified that these are their predictions, the nominees they think will win, but not necessarily those they hope will win. Their predictions in seven categories are listed on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER. But, the tally of their ballots indicates AWFJ’s predictions for the winners in the 2018 Oscars race. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Fewer Female Protagonists in 2017 — Brandy McDonnell reports

Dismal stats reported in this year’s edition of the annual It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World report, released on February 22 by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, show that the number of female protagonists in Hollywood’s top grossing 100 films dropped during 2017, despite the blockbuster success of Wonder Woman and other femme-led films. Just how bad is it? Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Record-Breaking BLACK PANTHER Proves Inclusion Sells in Cinema — Brandy McDonnell reports

The combined success of the record-breaking, critical acclaim-nabbing and audience-thrilling success of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, introducing a black superhero and boasting a largely black cast, and the recent record-breaking, critical acclaim-nabbing and audience-thrilling successWonder Woman, whixh gave female filmgoers a superhero in their own image, should prove to Hollywood that inclusion sells in cinema, but will it bring real change in the making of movies? Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Godard and Sound: Acoustic Innovation in the Late Films of Jean-Luc Godard — Book Review by Moira Sullivan

Albertine Fox’s Godard and Sound (2017) is an impressive and elaborate study of the use of sound in Jean Luc Godard’s later films beginning in 1979 including his multimedia work. The study builds on the foundation of her doctoral thesis, which investigated the aural properties of film and the field of “audio spectatorship” in film criticism and scholarship. Fox’s interest in the subject developed through an appreciation of minimal music with an ‘acoustic’ echo. Repetitive identical musical patterns played in unison result in an echo, such as the music of Phillip Glass, Brian Eno and Meredith Monk. These echoes are likened to “after images” in paintings with overlapping patterns. There is also a parallel in film. Fox experienced two repetitive loops – the “soundtrack” and “the image” track “moving in parallel motion” in Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie (1962), which became the genesis of Godard and Sound. Continue reading…

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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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: SXSW Salutes Women, Harvard Honors Kunis, DGA Awards and Streep Joins ‘LIES’ Cast — Brandy McDonnell reports

Texas’ South By Southwest Festival (March 9-18) showcases several promising projects by women directors including three femme-helmed features, one documentary and a documentary series from Netflix. The Directors Guild of America presented top TV show awards to three shows focusing on women’s stories — The Handmaid’s Tale, Veep and Big Little Lies — and honored directors Reed Morano, Niki Caro and Beth McCarthy-Miller for their work on television series and miniseries. Additionally, DGA President Thomas Schlamme awards ceremony opening speech emphasized the guild’s commitment to opposing sexual harassment. Meryl Streep will join the cast of Big Little Lies in season two. And, Harvard’s The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the US, honored Mila Kunis with it’s Woman of the Year award, while also announcing that year’s production will embrace gender-neutral casting. Read all the details in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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