SPOTLIGHT March 2017: Amy Hobby, Feminist Film Producer and Activist

awfjspotlightsmallsmallLast year, during one of Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca Talks, Jodie Foster famously commented that women who’ve maneuvered their way into the upper echelons of the Hollywood hierarchy have not been particularly helpful to women working behind the lens.

amy hobby head 1But Tribeca Film Institute’s recently anointed Executive Director Amy Hobby disagrees. While acknowledging some validity in Foster’s statement and noting that statistics continue to show dismal gender disparity in the movie industry, Hobby claims that the scene is changing.

Take note: Amy Hobby is in the know, and she’s in a position where she can actually make it so. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscar Nominations — Brandy McDonnell comments

With the 2017 Oscar nominations, the Academy broke or tied multiple records. The movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling. How did they fare on gender parity and diversity? Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, DISORDER, MY KING, PETE’S DRAGON and other August 12 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

florence_foster_jenkins_posterTop pick for this week is Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep as the self-styled diva whose voice could shatter glass. Alice Winocour’s Disorder is a disturbingly violent thriller that taps into present day paranoia. Maiwenn’s My King is a roller coaster ride of a romance that tracks the dysfunctional relationship of Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) and Georgio (Vincent Cassel). Pete’s Dragon is a sweet remake of Disney’s 1977 animation about the bond between boy and beast. In Blood Father, a badass absentee dad (Mel Gibson) scrambles to rescue his badass drug dealing daughter (Erin Moriarty) from criminals and the cops. Plus three watch-worthy documentaries: Abortion: Stories Women Tell, When Elephants Were Young and An Art That Nature Makes: The Work of Rosamond Purcell. Read the reviews>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 8 – August 12: Florence Foster Jenkins

florence_foster_jenkins_poster Meryl Steep adds another character in her pantheon of infamous dames — be it Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child, or Emmeline Pankhurst. This time it is an actual operatic grande dame in the form of Florence Foster Jenkins. The indomitable Jenkins came to fame (or more correctly, infamy) as an operatic soprano of highly dubious talent but soaring amounts of hubris and delusions of grandeur on a Wagnerian scale. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Are 2015′s Gender Gains Sustainable? Plus Blanchett, Streisand and Hollywood’s Most Powerful Women — Brandy McDonnell Reports

DAISY RIDLEY STAR WARSAs 2015 comes to a close, the question becomes are women’s box office successes just milestones in a particularly good feminist year? Or are they markers on the road to true change? The truth is, movies about and directed by women were not the rarity they’ve become since the early days of Hollywood. The entertainment industry has had its moments, particularly in the 1980s, when it vowed to open opportunities for women and seemed to do so for a while before slipping back into its comfort zone of unconscious bias and systemic sexism. What’s on the horizon? Plus Cate Blanchett signs on for Thor, Barbra Streisand is honored, Women in Film names grant recipients and this year’s list of the most powerful women in Hollywood. Read about it all in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 20-26: SUFFRAGETTE

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Opening October 23, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Suffragette, British director Sarah Gavron’s phenomenal portrait of the brave women at the vanguard of the rights to vote campaign in the early 20th century in Britain. Specifically, Gavron and master screenwriter Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady) have chosen to set their film in the seminal year of 1912 when, disheartened by the lack of progress, movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst (a commanding cameo by Meryl Streep) decreed that words should become action. And so it was that peaceful protest and political machinations turned into guerilla warfare, bands of women creating civil unrest to draw attention to their cause; and, often, ending up behind bars, isolated from their families, subject to the most heinous public shame and physically tortured. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN on the Equality Front: JLaw’s Stand, EEOC Hearings, Gender Switching & Censored Women Film Fest – Brandy McDonnell reports

jennifer-lawrence-in-american-hustleJennifer Lawrence says she’s no longer willing to be ‘adorable’ in demanding equal pay, and receives wide support from colleagues and fans. Filmmaker Maria Giese is first to testify at EEOC hearings. Hollywood’s equality agenda includes rewriting popular plots with male lead characters for women. New to the Star Wars franchise, Daisy Ridley’s character is featured front and center. Plus women win big at BFI London Film Fest, Meryl Streep to head Berlin Film Fest jury and the first-ever Censored Women’s Film Fest debuts in November in Washington DC at George Washington University. For details on all, read this week’s THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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SUFFRAGETTE Producers Alison Owen and Faye Ward on Feminism and Working Together – Jennifer Merin interviews

Faye Ward and Alison Owen

Faye Ward and Alison Owen

It took Alison Owen and Faye Ward years of brainstorming and campaigning to produce Suffragette, the feature about women’s struggles to win the right to vote in Britain a century ago. Arriving in cinemas at a moment when feminism in filmmaking is trending and Hollywood’s male-dominated film industry hierarchy is under investigation for sexual bias, the has a compelling contemporary resonance. Owen and Ward say they worked with a powerful team of creative, dedicated women (and, to be fair, a fair number of men) whose trust in partnership and passion for the project brought Suffragette to screens. Read the interview in THE FEMALE GAZE...

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: MALALA Inspires, More Opposition to Hollywood Bias, Femme Films @ Box Office and more – Brandy McDonnell comments

malala posterWhile the new documentary He Named Me Malala inspires at the movies, the U.S. government is finally investigating bias complaints about Hollywood’s behind the scenes and on screen sexist bias, and high box office grosses for femme-centric films prove there’s a viable market and substantial audience base for films with lead female characters dealing with women’s issues and life’s situations from a female perspective. Plus goodbye and RIP to our beloved Chantal Ackerman, hello and congrats to MoMA’s La Frances Hui and Meryl Streep pans Rotten Tomatoes’ disparity re women film critics. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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@TIFF: Meet Emily Blunt, American Badass – Janice Page interviews

sicario smallerThat’s probably not where we thought Blunt was headed a decade ago, when she played Meryl Streep’s prickly assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. She’s since played a queen (The Young Victoria), a cartoon gnome (Gnomeo & Juliet), a can-do business consultant (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), and Matt Damon’s futuristic crush (The Adjustment Bureau). Then earned sci-fi fan points in Looper, but it wasn’t until last year’s Edge of Tomorrow that “action hero” started looking like a legitimate entry on her resume. Now there’s Sicario and that cements Blunt’s badass qualifications. Read on…

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Hollywood Insider Katherine Kramer on Trending Feminism and the 2016 Oscars – Quendrith Johnson reports

katkramercroppedHollywood insider Katherine Kramer (Stanley’s daughter) discusses the feminist movie trend and its possible 2016 Oscars impact. Making women’s issue movies got a huge boost with Patricia Arquette’s impassioned 2015 Equal Pay Oscar acceptance speech, leading to a proliferation of 2016 Oscar-worthy femme-centric projects, legislation for equal rights and even a federal investigation of Hollywood’s disparate salaries, based on numbers leaked in the Sony hack. Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and other A-listers have joined a chorus actresses clamoring for equal representation for women behind and in front of the cameras. Katherine Kramer’s take on feminist trending is smartly insightful and fascinating. Read more in AWARDS INTELIGENCER.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Switching genders in OUR BRAND IS CRISIS, ROADHOUSE and more – Brandy McDonnell comments

When filmmakers start casting women in roles originally written for men, it gives real hope that Hollywood might just be changing its sexist ways. Hopefully, the idea of taking roles written for men and looking for opportunities to cast women instead will catch on with both male and female power-players in Hollywood – and even extend to switching out male directors and screenwriters with females. Then, we’ll start to see some progress. But I believe it has to become a conscious, deliberate choice until we narrow the gender gap.Read on…

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RICKI AND THE FLASH – Review by Susan Granger

Miraculous Meryl Streep can do anything, as she’s proven again and again on-screen. This time she plays Ricki Rendazzo, a middle-aged rock musician who, decades ago, left her husband and three young children, moving from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, seeking fame and fortune – neither of which she’s found. Commitment-phobic Ricki fronts a Tarzana bar band called The Flash. That’s her night job. During the day, she cashiers at a chic grocery store, forced to smile and be cheery to every customer. Read on…

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DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, RICKI AND THE FLASH, KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROFIT and other August 7 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

thediaryofateenagegirl_poster copyThe Diary of a Teenage Girl is the must-see, especially if you’re interested in challenging, stimulating feminist cinema. Ricki and The Flash is a slick Diablo Cody-scripted dramedy starring Meryl Streep as an aging rock star who wants to reconnect with her family. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet brings to animation the famous tale of Mustafa, the revolutionary poet/philosopher who answers his followers’ questions with poetic parables, each animated here by a different artist — three of whom are women. Plus The Gift, Dark Places and Enchanted Kingdom 3D. Read the reviews>>

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SPIRITED AWAY on Blu-ray Spreads Feminist Spirit, Streep Campaigns for Equality and Film Festival Feminism – Brandy McDonnell comments

spirited-away2Spirited Away uproots the tired ‘damsel in distress awaits the prince to rescue (and marry) her narrative, as 10-year-old Chihiro embarks on a mission to save Haku, the boy who initially helped her adapt to the spirit world and who turns out to be more than he seems as well. Seeing the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s 2003 Oscar winner in glorious high definition on Blu-ray, I was again astounded by the richness of his storytelling, and also by the influence one determined game-changer can make. Plus new kudos for Meryl Streep on equal rights, feminism at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the new collaboration between BFI London Film Festival and the Geena Davis Institute in this week’s The Week in Women.

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INTO THE WOODS – Review by Susan Granger

Based on the Brothers Grimm’s cautionary tales, James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim’s insightful, slyly comedic, 1987 Broadway musical has been cleverly mounted by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”). Dare I say it’s even better than the stage version? Why? Since Stephen Sondheim’s intricate music and tongue-twisting lyrics are extraordinarily demanding, on-stage, some inevitably get garbled. Whereas, on-screen, everything is crystal-clear. Read on…

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2011 EDA Award Winners!

The Artist scores multiple 2011 EDA Awards, and there are top honors for Viola, Kristen, Jessica, Lynne, Rooney, Saoirse, Angelina and Beans, and for some mighty memorable men, as well.

Then, too, we present AWFJ’s unique Female Focus and Special Mention awards. See whether you agree with our choice of the Most Memorable Moment, Best Nudity and Actress Most In Need of A New Agent!

See the list of winners.>>

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Meryl Streep To Be Honored at Berlinale in 2012 – Jennifer Merin reports

Meryl Streep will be awarded the Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2012.

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AWFJ Women On Film – Iconic Women In Film – Diana Saenger comments

Years ago the word Hollywood conjured up images of glamour, legend and famous actresses and actors. Movie fans clamored for movie magazines that had in-depth stories about the stars’ lives and couldn’t wait to see them on the big screen. Movies were designed around star power and if the plot was exceptional – it was added value to the experience.

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AWFJ Women on Film – Meryl Streep On Julia Childs, Motherhood and Food – Jennifer Merin

Meryl Streep plays Julia Child in Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron’s sweet and spicy adaptation of the memoirs of two women whose obsession with food changed their lives. Streep’s Julia is a perfectly divine souffle.

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AWFJ Women On Film – “Julie & Julia” – Susan Granger reviews

Whether you like to cook or just enjoy eating, this gastronomic delight joins the pantheon of culinary-themed films like “Babette’s Feast” and “Eat Drink Man Woman,” interweaving two stories about creatively frustrated women who find professional fulfillment and, eventually, fame through cooking and writing about food.

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AWFJ Women On Film – Releasing August 7, 2009

AWFJ highlights films made by and about women:

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AWFJ Women on Film – The Week in Women, July 31, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

Old women are old, even when they’re not; sexism and the female film critic; how to be a misogyny consultant, and

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