MOVIE OF THE WEEK: October 27: NOVITIATE

motw logo 1-35If your idea of life in mid-20th-century convents is all about kindly nuns solving problems like Maria and climbing every mountain, Novitiate will be a real eye-opener. Writer/director Margaret Betts’ first feature-length drama tells the sometimes-bleak story of Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), an earnest young woman from Tennessee who decides to take the veil in the early 1960s, on the eve of the far-reaching Vatican II reforms that would change traditional church life forever. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 20: THE DIVINE ORDER

motw logo 1-35Several decades after the Sexual Revolution swept across the United States (and around the world) during the late 1960s, it’s all too easy to gloss over just how earth-shattering a change the movement for greater feminine freedom made in the lives of so many women and their families, and to women’s roles in society. Petra Volpe’s entertaining political dramedy, The Divine Order, tells the story of unstoppable women who defied local traditions and oppressive husbands to fight for greater personal freedom. The film offers a compelling reminder of why we must continue to press forward for women’s rights. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 22 – 29, 2017: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

motw logo 1-35Battle of the Sexes takes its name from the historic 1973 grudge match between tennis superstar Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). But the movie is about so much more than that singular game, no matter how big that game turned out to be. It’s about acknowledging and accepting who you are, standing up for what you believe, and using your voice to fight for the people who need you. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 15 to 22, 2017: DOLORES

motw logo 1-35It’s a safe bet that many folks, if asked to name someone associated with the United Farm Workers of America union (originally the National Farm Workers Association), would draw a total blank. Some might come up with Cesar Chavez. But very few are likely to mention Dolores Huerta, despite her countless contributions to the UFW beginning in the 1960s and her continuing role as an outspoken intersectional activist who fights for feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, and more. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 1- 8: SCHOOL LIFE

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School Life, director Neasa Ní Chianáin’s sweetly pellucid portrait of Headfort School in County Kells, Ireland feels like a sojourn in another simpler age. Inside the school’s rambling hallways and comfortably shambolic classrooms, a proper education, in all senses of the term, is unfolding. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Best Femme-Helmed, Femme-Centric Films of 2017, To Date

motw logo 1-35Focusing specifically on films directed by women as well as those featuring strong female lead characters and female-centric stories, AWFJ’s Team #MOTW has endorsed 31 exceptional films during 2017, to date. Because we pick only one film for our Movie of the Week endorsement, we’ve actually had to pass up a good number of other superb films that qualified, but were not our collective top choice. Now that we’ve arrived at the midway point in this year’s release schedule, we’re pausing to look back at all the films we’ve considered for #MOTW endorsement, and we are pleasantly surprised to note the volume of wonderful films made by and about women. 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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 23-30: BAND AID

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“Love is hell” might very well be the title of one of the original songs featured in the new romantic comedy Band Aid, this week’s Movie of the Week. Although in the parlance of Zoe Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, calling the song “Love is heck” might actually be more fitting. Continue reading…

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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 7 – 14, 2017: CARRIE PILBY

motw logo 1-35She may be a genius, but Carrie Pilby (Bel Powley) still has a lot to learn about human nature — and herself. This Manhattan-set indie comedy follows 19-year-old Harvard graduate Carrie as she navigates life and love, which isn’t easy, given that she overthinks literally everything. Like a distaff Holden Caulfield, Carrie is frequently trapped in her own head, suspicious of others’ motives and so many steps ahead of everyone she interacts with that she’s virtually incapable of things like casual conversation and dating. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK Feb 27 to Mar 3: FROM NOWHERE

motw logo 1-35From Nowhere has the peculiar timing of being released in theatres in the midst of the current maelstrom around immigration in the US. The film premiered last year at the SXSW Festival, where it picked up an audience choice award. Back in those innocent and unsuspecting days of yore, the film was relevant and topical, but now it is essential. As the US president threatens to muster the National Guard to round up  the undocumentedFrom Nowhere offers up a portrait of three young lives caught up in this Kafkaesque situation. Read On….

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 17-21: AMERICAN FABLE

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Horror and fantasy film have long been a birthplace for emerging talent. Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Kathryn Bigelow, and Gareth Edwards – all cut their teeth in genre cinema before moving onto other things. Director Anne Hamilton is in fine company, and her new film American Fable emerges from this august tradition, trailing references aplenty. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week January 20-27, 2017: 2OTH CENTURY WOMEN

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Director Mike Mills has a way with women. His new film 20th Century Women, coming some six years after Beginners in 2010, has been described as a love letter to his mother. But it is also a portrait of a time and place, and a collection of people perched on the edge of enormous change.

It is 1979, the last staggering breath of the 70s era of drugs, sex, and social revolution is about to give way to the big bold 80s. This transitional moment is embodied by Jimmy Carter’s infamous Crisis of Confidence speech. But inside this larger moment in history, smaller crises are also taking place. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, January 13 – January 20, 2017: 13TH

13Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13TH was the first nonfiction film to open the New York Film Festival. The film has gone on to garner numerous prizes and is currently shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

The 13th amendment provides a point of departure, but the film is far more than investigation of mass incarceration in the US. It is a history lesson, a cinema essay and cogent and irrefutable indictment of the economic and cultural policies that are the enduring legacy of slavery. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, April 6-12: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

Opening April 10, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Clouds of Sils Maria, the new drama from French writer-director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Paris je t’aime). Taking the lead is the incomparable Juliette Binoche, who stars as successful veteran actress Maria Enders. At the height of her fame, Maria is asked to take part in a revival of the movie that shot her to stardom; not in her original role as ingenue, however, but as the story’s duped matron. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, March 16-22: KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER

Opening March 18, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Kumiko, The Treasure Hunterthe beguiling new film from actor-writer-director David Zellner and his co-writer brother Nathan Zellner. Their story is simple, yet brilliant. Lonely Japanese worker Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi; The Brothers Bloom, Pacific Rim) finds a VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ classic 1996 crime caper Fargo and, convinced by the title card assertion that it’s a true story, believes it to be a genuine treasure map that will lead her to a large stash of cash buried beneath the Minnesota snow. Read on…

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STRAY DOG Wins EDA Award @ Salem Film Fest 2015 – Jennifer Merin reports

Filmmakers Debra Granik and Tory Stewart were awarded the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at Salem Film Fest for Stray Dog, while Catherine Gund’s BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs Gravity was given an EDA Award Special Mention for Documentary Artistry.

Liz Whittenore, Jennifer Merin, Debra Granik, Tory Stewart

Liz Whittenore, Jennifer Merin, Debra Granik, Tory Stewart

For the fourth consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has partnered with Salem Film Fest (March 5 to 12, 2015) to present the juried AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film and to moderate Filmmaker Forum panels. Read on…

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POLTERGEIST: Then and now — Liz Whittemore comments

poltergeist still1982 and 2015. Poltergeist is the movie that traumatized me at the inappropriate age of two, and subsequently launched me head first and full throttle into horror genre fandom. Comparing poster art and trailers for the then and now versions of this classic fright fan favorite yields quick and fun insights into how horror filmmakers assure that once a scare is always a scare. Read on…

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