Ann Hui and OUR TIME WILL COME — Marilyn Ferdinand comments

At a time when the outlook for women working in Hollywood appears just as bleak as ever, it’s wonderful to note that directors like Ann Hui are still working at or near the top of their game. Hui, 70, is a highly acclaimed Chinese filmmaker who is associated with the Hong Kong New Wave that includes Tsui Hark, John Woo, and Wong Kar-wai. Hui has 31 directing credits, including one of the best treatments of aging I have ever seen, A Simple Life (2011). She has told a variety of stories over her career, but her signature strength is the sympathy and meticulous detail she brings to her observations of ordinary people, especially as her desire to work on socially conscious projects has grown. Continue reading…

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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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SPOTLIGHT January 2017: Ava DuVernay, Film Director and Crusader — by Marilyn Ferdinand

awfjspotlightsmallsmallava-duvernay-head-shotIt’s hard to think of a more galvanizing, charismatic woman in film than Ava DuVernay. The 44-year-old producer, director, writer, distributor and crusader for social justice broke into the larger cultural zeitgeist in 2015, the year her acclaimed film Selma was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and four Golden Globes, and won the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Woman Director. She is the winner of three AWFJ EDA Awards in 2016, including those for Best Documentary and Best Female Director for 13th and Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in Film. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood’s ‘pink razor remakes’ shave women directors, SUPERGIRL in OK, RIP Melissa Mathieson and more – Brandy McDonnell reports

Hollywood green lights remakes for their relative ease, low risk and built-in audiences, but we don’t need more of them — and we especially don’t need them as a quick fix for Hollywood’s ongoing gender issues. Instead of forcing audiences to settle for remakes, how about the studios invest money on projects initiated by the more than 100 women directors who’ve already proven their skills with box office successes. When are women creatives going to get equal opportunity to share their original stories instead of just doing “the female-version” of “insert big franchise title”? 20th Century Fox, Sony, Paramount, and the Weinstein Company have all failed to put out even a single film this year that was directed by a woman! Plus RIP screenwriter Melissa Mathieson, whose brilliant and beloved E.T will live forever, Oklahoma super girls welcome Supergirl Melissa Benoist, Chloe Sevigny cast as Lizzie Borden, and Essence is launching its Third Annual Black Women In Hollywood Short Film Contest, with submissions due by December 14. Read more in this week’s THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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Writer/Director Philiane Phang Wins $25,000 “Phosphate Prize at IFP” For Strong Female Characters – Jennifer Merin reports

philiane phangIFP has announced that the recipient of the inaugural Phosphate Prize at IFP is writer/director Philiane Phang. The Phosphate Prize at IFP, which includes a $25,000 grant funded by Phosphate Productions, was created to recognize narrative feature film screenplays that “provide a strong and complex lead female character.” The unrestricted cash grant also encourages the recipient to continue on her or his career path of writing and making quality independent films. Read more>>

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Helios Film Festival’s Female Filmmaker Challenge – Jennifer Merin reports

helios film fest logoThe Helios Film Festival and TentSquare are launching a “Female Filmmaker Challenge” as part of the film festival’s inaugural edition on October 9-11, 2015. Taking place in Cincinnati, the first year film festival will celebrate indie filmmaking with a special emphasis on local film production. The first call for submissions was last month.

The “Female Filmmaker Challenge” will be open to female writers, directors, cinematographers and producers to submit a short film up to 15 minutes for a chance to win $500 in cash, VIP badges to the 2015 Helios Film Festival and a spot on the “Women in Film” panel at the festival. Read on…

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SPOTLIGHT August 2015: Natalie Portman, Actress, Activist and Crusader for Women Directors

awfjspotlightsmallsmallportman excerptNatalie Portman is no stranger to Hollywood. The Oscar-winning actress’ first feature film, Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional, debuted when she was only 13 years old. Since then, she’s racked up dozens of film credits, some of them—Closer, Black Swan—better than others. Looking at You, Star Wars prequels. But isn’t that the way? This consummate, classy professional has made it through decades in the film industry and earned a mantlepiece full of awards along the way… two of them, I’d be remiss not to mention, EDA Awards for Black Swan, issued in 2010 by this very group. Read on…

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THE FEMALE GAZE: Stina Werenfels Talks DORA, Sexual Neuroses and Women in Film – Dana Knight interviews (Exclusive)

Filmmaker Stina Werenfels

Filmmaker Stina Werenfels


Dora or the Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents is Swiss director Stina Werenfels’ second feature film. It is a provocative drama that focuses on the awakening sexuality of a young, mentally disabled woman and the intense repercussions this event has for her family, and it has strong feminist overtones. Interviewing Werenfels at Belinale 2015, THE FEMALE GAZE contributor Dana Knight questions the filmmaker about Doras strong feminist overtones, female sexuality in film and women working in film in Switzerland. Read on…

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The Bogdanovich Story: Antonia and Peter – Quendrith Johnson reports

AntoniaBogdanovich-211x300Two-on-one interviews are never easy, especially if you inexplicably fluff a plot-point on a movie. Writer-director Antonia Bogdanovich, on the phone with her father Peter Bogdanovich, who executive produces on her debut feature film Phantom Halo, graciously corrects the error with: “The (other) guy shot the father. Not the son.” And with that Freudian flourish, you solider on somehow, mostly because the Bogdanovich’s are so gracious. Read on…

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GEMMA BOVARY – Review by Susan Granger

French writer/director Anne Fontaine envisions Gustav Flaubert’s classic 19th century novel “Madame Bovary” for contemporary times. The story revolves around Martin Joubert (Fabrice Lucchini), an unhappily married baker who fled from Paris to seek tranquility in the Normandy countryside. An avid reader, his favorite book is “Madame Bovary,” which was written in this same provincial village. Read on…

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Paz Fabrega and Kattia Gonzalez on VIAJE – Dana Knight interviews for The Female Gaze (exclusive)

viaje1Costa Rican filmmaker Paz Fabrega and actress/producer Kattia Gonzalez chat with film journalist Dana Knight for THE FEMALE GAZE, talking about the New Cinema of Costa Rica, their personal approach to filmmaking and their desire to portray relationships more realistically in Viaje. Their conversation took place during the Tribeca Film Festival, in New York City, on April 4, 2015. Read on…

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Female Directors at Cannes 2015, Thus Far – Jennifer Merin comments

cannes logoCannes has announced that Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall (La Tête Haute), will open this year’s festival on May 13. To date, two femme-helmed films have been scheduled in the competition, and they are Maïwenn’s Mon Roi and Valérie Donzelli’s Marguerite And Julien. Read on…

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Unconscious Bias and Hollywood’s Arrested Development – Dr. Martha M. Lauzen comments (Exclusive)

Martha Lauzen

Martha Lauzen

As this year’s Oscar nominations attest, the film industry continues to suffer from an acute case of arrested development when it comes to gender diversity. The lack of women nominees as directors, cinematographers, and writers is a symptom of wider biases operating in the business. Read on…

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The Celluloid Ceiling Report 2014 – Jennifer Merin reports

The Celluloid Ceiling is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women’s behind-the-scenes employment in film available. Currently in its 17th year, this annual study is helmed by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

This year’s stats show that there has been no progress in numbers parity for women working in Hollywood films. In fact, overall, there’s been a slight regression. Read more>>

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An Open Letter to the New York Film Festival Selection Committee – Rania Richardson

Dear NYFF Selection Committee,

It was a surprise to many last Thursday, when Ava DuVernay was not on the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Director despite her widely hailed work on “Selma.” Then again, Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 Oscar win for “The Hurt Locker” didn’t exactly usher in a new dawn for female filmmakers.

It’s a boy’s club, this movie world. You know it is. Read on…

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The Jennifer/Penny Chronicles: Making HISSS – Part One – Martha P. Nochimson comments

Jennifer Lynch and Penny Vozniak

Jennifer Lynch and Penny Vozniak

This is the first installment of an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hiss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome. Read more>>

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May 2014 SPOTLIGHT: Amma Asante, Filmmaker, BELLE

awfjspotlightsmallsmallThis month, AWFJ’s Spotlight is focused on Amma Asante, the filmmaker whose femme-centric cinema successes include the lavish period drama, Belle, opening in May, 2014.

amma1

Asante’s second feature actually started with a postcard of a painting that shows two women — one black and one white — dressed in elegant 18th Century garb.

The image, along with the first draft of the script for Belle, was sent to Amma Asante by producer Damian Jones, who’d been so impressed by the filmmakers first feature, the BAFTA-winning A Way of Life, that he wanted her to direct this lavish period drama about a mixed race woman of means living among the English aristocracy during the 18th Century.

Asante was immediately intrigued. She had long dreamed of doing an Austenesque movie with a black female lead. When this opportunity knocked, she oped the door. And in came Belle. Read on…

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Why Are Women In Film Stuck? — Commentary by Martha M. Lauzen — Exclusive to AWFJ

Martha Lauzen

Martha Lauzen

Women working in the film industry are stuck.

According to the latest Celluloid Ceiling study, women comprised only 16% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2013. This figure is actually one percentage point lower than in 1998! Read on…

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AWFJ Women On Film – Kathryn Bigelow Gets MoMA Retrospective – Jennifer Merin reports

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is honoring director Kathryn Bigelow with a mid-career retrospective of her work, up to and including The Hurt Locker (2008), for which she became the first women to win an Oscar for directing.

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AWFJ Women On Film – Elizabeth Allen Talks “Ramona and Beezus,” Filmmaking and Women In Hollywood – Jennifer Merin interviews

“Ramona and Beezus,” based on Beverly Cleary’s beloved book, is likely to be the family film success of the summer season. The film is all about sisterhood and the love that develops between and binds siblings.

Cleary’s novel is a kids’ classic, so well-known and beloved, adapting it for the big screen could be problematic. Director Elizabeth Allen says she was actually quite concerned about doing it the right way — especially because she feels so personally connected to the book.

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AWFJ Women On Film – 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.

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AWFJ Women On Film – What Did Sundance 09 Augur for Women In Film? – Katherine Monk

If one were to look at optics alone, the launch to this year‘s movie season heralded great things for the fair sex in film: Sundance 2009 was teeming with work from female directors, writers, producers and plenty of high-profile female talent.

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AWFJ Women On Film – Hong Kong Women Filmmakers Update – Jennifer Merin reports

As follow up to Katie Rich’s report on the Hong Kong Film Industry’s Focus On Women, we’re pleased to report that Ann Hui was named Best Director at the 2009 Hong Kong Film Awards, held on Sunday, April 19. Hui received the award for The Way We Are, a gritty low budget docudrama set a poor neighborhood in Hong Kong. Also nominated for Best Director were Johnnie To, John Woo, Benny Chan and Wilson Yip.

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AWFJ Women On Film – Hong Kong Film Industry: Focus on Women – Katey Rich reports

Like Bollywood, Hong Kong’s film industry seems to be outdistancing Hollywood with opportunities for women directors and producers. With reference to the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards, Katey Rich looks at Hong Kong’s ‘fempower.’

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