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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FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL — Review by Diane Carson

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool finds love and compassion triumphing. Films seldom candidly portray the last days of once glamorous, sultry actresses. Admirers prefer to revisit their triumphant performances in which these women command screens with captivating energy and irresistible appeal. Kudos then to Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, an exception that dramatizes the physical and psychological challenges faced by 1940s/1950s Hollywood star Gloria Grahame in her final months. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 2, 2018: A FANTASTIC WOMAN

motw logo 1-35Chile’s Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman” is a modern twist on the kind of Douglas Sirk or Joan Crawford movies of the 1950’s about women in torment. Those were stories of women forced to suffer indignities but who never lost their own dignity and glamour. In the mid-century, “the problem that has no name” described by Betty Friedan had not yet led to the women’s movement, and women in film and in real life often felt invisible, as though all women cared about was keeping the house clean and the children happy. In this film, our heroine is a trans woman named Marina, played by a trans actress, Daniela Vega. The story is about her struggle to be seen for who she is and for all that she is. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT February 2018: Daniela Vega, Star of A FANTASTIC WOMAN, Chile’s Oscar Contender

daniela vega head glamawfjspotlightsmallsmallTrailblazers whose groundbreaking accomplishments change the world, clearing the way for those who follow in their footsteps, are often reluctant to draw attention to themselves. Their motivation is simply to be allowed to be themselves. So it is with Daniela Vega, the first openly transgender actress and model in Chile, and star of the Oscar-nominated A Fantastic Woman. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Cate Marquis

A Fantastic Woman begins on a romantic note, with an older man listening to a singer with a band. In high heels, short skirt, and a golden voice, Marina Vidal is pretty but there is something a bit different her. The couple go out, then back home. Late at night, the man awakens and doesn’t feel well. Despite a desperate rush to the hospital, Marina loses her beloved to an aneurysm. In her grief, Marina faces a new problem, her older lover Orlando’s (Francisco Reyes) disapproving family, and then police who seem overly interested in her gender. Continue reading…

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HAPPY END — Review by Diane Carson

The cerebral Austrian director Michael Haneke refuses to explain his grim, astute snapshots of scrutinized lives: the elderly couple in his Oscar-winning Amour, the dystopian pre-WWI German village in The White Ribbon, or the French couple receiving frightening anonymous tapes in Caché. It comes, then, as no surprise, that the ironically titled Happy End captures a troubled, bourgeois French family. Continue reading…

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PROUD MARY — Review by Susan Granger

Everything old is new again! In the 1970s, the ethnic subgenre of action thrillers, starring black actors, was known as “Blaxpolitation” films. Exemplified by “Shaft,” “Cleopatra Jones” and “Foxy Brown,” they were originally aimed an urban audiences, but their appeal spread. Now – with the rise of fighting female characters – Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” TV’s “Empire”) takes the titular role as a ruthless African-American assassin who feels guilty about one particular hit for the Boston Mob. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Oprah Commands Golden Globes, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI get top billing, while THE SHAPE OF WATER dominates Critics Choice and AWFJ EDA Awards — Brandy McDonnell reports

Oprah Winfrey drew repeated ovations from the Hollywood honchos assembled for the Golden Globes, as issued a warning — not once, but three times — to powerful men who abuse women: “Their time is up!” And this year’s big Golden Globe winner is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But voting members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association/Broadcast Television Journalists Association and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists picked The Shape of Water and their big winner. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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2017 AWFJ EDA Awards: The Winners

The women of AWFJ have voted!

shape of water 3The Shape of Water is the big winner in this year’s 1th annual AWFJ EDA Awards, garnering awards for Best Film, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro and Bravest Performance for Sally Hawkins. AWFJ voters show love for Greta Gerwig with EDA’s for Best Female Director and Best Female Screenwriter for Lady Bird, with Laurie Metcalf winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in Lady Bird. EDAs went to a diverse array of talents in 19 additional categories, including Actress Most in Need of a New Agent and the coveted AWFJ Hall of Shame Award. For the full list, Continue reading…

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PADDINGTON 2 — Review by Susan Granger

Set a few years after Paddington sprang onto the silver screen, the red-hatted, blue-raincoated, marmalade-scarfing bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into a new life in London’s Windsor Gardens with his adoptive parents, the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins). Continue reading…

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PADDINGTON 2 — Review by Martha Baker

‘Paddington 2′ lives up to its forebear. ​Sometimes one goes to a sequel, fearful that it’s going to be mediocre. Still, one goes because one likes the characters. The film industry, the Mother of Sequels, banks on that. So one heads off to “Paddington 2″ with one’s love for that bear tucked safely inside. Continue reading…

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THE POST — Review by Cate Marquis

Steven Spielberg delivers a remarkable and timely film about freedom of the press, a story set in 1971 that has striking echoes for the present. President Nixon, who disdains the press, seeks to prevent publication of embarrassing secret government documents that expose decades of deceit of the American people on the Vietnam War. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 5, 2018 : MOLLY’S GAME

motw logo 1-35In “Molly’s Game,” writer/director Aaron Sorkin introduces us to Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a complicated woman who’s all the more fascinating because she’s real. Smart, resourceful, competitive, driven — Molly succeeds at whatever she puts her mind to. At first, that’s skiing; pushed hard by her demanding father, Larry (Kevin Costner), she becomes an Olympic-level champion who seems destined for gold…until a random accident ends her skiing career for good. continue reading….

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SPOTLIGHT January 2018: Mattie Do, Lao Filmmaker, Oscar Contender for DEAREST SISTER

awfjspotlightsmallsmallmattie do buddhistFilmmaker Mattie Do’s very name signifies a series of impressive firsts: Lao’s first woman director and helmer of the first Lao movies to play at international film festivals, and more recently, her latest film Dearest Sister (Nong hak) became the first from the country to be submitted to The Oscars’ Best Foreign Language category. Continue reading…

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THE POST — Review by Danielle Solzman

Steven Spielberg’s The Post makes for a timely offering by the way that the film displays just how important it is for America to have a free press. Spielberg’s journalistic thriller takes a screenplay written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer and manages to turn it into a hard-hitting film that ought to make people think twice about what’s going on in America. Continue reading…

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MOLLY’S GAME — Review by Beth Accomando

Aaron Sorkin created TV’s “West Wing” and “The Newsroom,” and won an Oscar for his script for “The Social Network.” Now he makes his feature film directing debut with “Molly’s Game.” You may not know Molly Bloom’s name but she was an Olympic class skier who suffered a career-ending injury and then ran an exclusive high stakes poker game that attracted Hollywood celebs and the FBI’s attention. As played by Jessica Chastain, Molly’s a smart, type A personality who seems able to adapt to any situation and who can succeed at anything she puts her mind to even when idiot men get in her way. Continue reading…

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Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman on LOVING VINCENT — Interview by Leslie Combemale

Loving Vincent is the first fully oil painted feature film. The brainchild of two filmmakers who have worked in animation, special effects, and live action, the film breaks new ground, while being visually stunning and driving a story about the last few weeks in the life an artist who died penniless but is now one of the most famous in history. All the characters in the film are performed by real actors, either on special sets or in front of green screens, and their work is combined with computer animation and painted animation. There are over sixty-five thousand frames in the film, and at the end of each shot, they were left with the painting of the last frame of the shot. There are eight hundred and ninety-eight shots in the film. Continue reading…

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Filmmaker Petra Volpe on THE DIVINE ORDER and Women’s Rights — Jessica Zack interviews

Filmmaker Petra Volpe’s engaging film, The Divine Order, is a box office hit in Switzerland and is the Swiss foreign-film entry to the 2018 Academy Awards/ The film was inspired by the fact that as the U.S. was convulsing with cultural change during the late ’60s, not only had women’s lib not made it to the small Alpine nation, but Swiss women wouldn’t have the right to vote in national elections until 1971. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 29: Best Female Characters of 2017

motw logo 1-35With thanks to all of the movie industry women and men who’ve birthed them and brought them into our consciousness, Team #MOTW focuses attention on some of the brilliant female characters who’ve joined our pantheon of feminist film goddesses during 2017. A legion of strong, complex, and compelling fictional, truth-based and real life women have shared their struggles, aspirations and accomplishments with us. Their various stories represent every aspect of feminist activism for equality and justice. They give us insight, strength and inspiration. Browse our #MOTW roster for an overview of this year’s list of great female characters, and for Team #MOTW favorites, continue reading….

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THE DISASTER ARTIST — Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

“The Disaster Artist,” rated (R), is a comedy based on the real-life story of Hollywood writer/director Tommy Wiseau. His claim to fame is a dramatic film he made, The Room,in 2003. You see, it’s so bad, that it’s actually good and has become a major cult film. Continue reading….

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FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL — Review by Susan Granger

Annette Bening delivers a powerhouse performance as sultry Gloria Grahame. Yet to fully appreciate it, you should know a bit about who this enigmatic actress was. Back in 1940s and ‘50s film noir, Grahame starred in “Crossfire,” “Sudden Fear,” “The Big Heat,” “In a Lonely Place” and “The Bad and the Beautiful,” for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Fans also remember her from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “Oklahoma!” Continue reading…

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The Academy’s 90th Oscars: Latest Round Of Contenders for Best Picture, Music, Foreign Language Film, VFX — Michelle Hannett reports

oscar logoAs Hollywood, the studios and the film industry close for the upcoming holiday week, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has unveiled the films eligible for consideration in various categories for the 90th Oscars. including updates long and short lists in the Best Picture, Best Foreign Film, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects and Best Hair and Makeup Categories. A total of 341 feature films are eligible for the 2017 Academy Awards. Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 22: HO HO HOLIDAY VIEWING

motw logo 1-35This year’s MOTW roster has been dominated by films that present stories about every aspect of women’s struggles for equality and about other serious social issues that demand our attention. But late December is a good time for a bit of seasonal levity. And so we present for your enjoyment Team MOTW’s wonderfully varied list of recommended films for ho ho holiday viewing. The #MOTW roster features romance, comedy, thrills and lots of food. The films are upbeat, inspiring and spirited, although not all directly connected to traditional celebrations. Wonder what’s in store? Continue reading…

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WARU — Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

waru posterOver a black screen, a young child’s voice states calmly: “When I died, I saw the whole world”. Directed by nine Māori women filmmakers, the opening moments of the New Zealand film Waru are as simple as they are devastating, perfectly capturing in mere seconds the tonal and thematic force of what is to come. Between them, these nine directors tell eight stories – ‘Waru’ is both the name of the departed child and the Māori word for “eight” – of events that transpire at the same time as his tangi or funeral. Each of the film’s eight sections focuses on the experiences of different Māori women at this particular moment in time, held together in a range of ways by Waru himself or what he represents to them, their community or New Zealand more broadly. Continue reading…

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Joan Chen at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao — Gill Pringle interviews

joan chenA female filmmaking pioneer, Chinese-born actress Joan Chen broke both race and gender barriers when she directed the May-November romance, Autumn in New York. Released in 2000, the well received film starred Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Chen mentions taking strength from her female support teamm including editor Ruby Yang and casting directors Sheila Jaffe and Georgeanne Walken. “I didn’t think of myself as breaking down any doors at the time. I think I was so innocent. I didn’t think about my role as a woman film-maker. It seemed very simple to me – I saw a story I really wanted to tell and was determined to tell it. I was fearless. I’m still surprised there aren’t many more female directors,” muses Chen, 56, when AWFJ catches up with her at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao. Continue reading…

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