WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: Texas’ South By Southwest Festival to showcase women filmmakers; Director’s Guild honors ‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ and more; and Mila Kunis receives Harvard’s Hasty Pudding award

0 Flares 0 Flares ×
“First Match,” the first feature film for writer/director Olivia Newman, is among the selections for the Narrative Feature competition at the 2018 South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas. Netflix photo

“First Match,” the first feature film for writer/director Olivia Newman, is among the selections for the Narrative Feature competition at the 2018 South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas. Netflix photo

The South by Southwest Conference and Festivals has announced the features lineup and opening night film for the 25th edition of the film festival, planned for March 9-18 in Austin, Texas, and it looks like several promising projects by women directors will be showcased.

For instance, it looks like Netflix’s SXSW slate – including three features, one documentary feature and one documentary series – is dominated by women helmers. The world premieres on the Netflix lineup include the feature films “First Match,” the first feature film for writer/director Olivia Newman, and “6 Balloons,” written and directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan; the documentary feature “Take Your Pills,” from executive producers Christina Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, producer Julie Goldman and duPont award-winning director Alison Klayman (“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”); and the documentary series “Rapture,” which includes Geeta Gandbhir (“I Am Evidence”) among its list of six directors.

The Netflix slate also includes “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter,” directed by SXSW favorite Jody Hill (“Observe and Report”), according to a news release.

Newman’s “First Match” is among the selections for SXSW’s Narrative Feature competition, where several other movies by women are competing, including “Family,” directed by Laura Steinel; “Jinn,” directed by Nijla Mu’min; “The New Romantic,”directed by Carly Stone; “SADIE,” directed by Megan Griffiths; “Shotgun,” directed by Hannah Marks and Joey Power; “Summer ’03,” directed by Becca Gleason; and “Write When You Get Work,” directed by Stacy Cochran. The other two titles in the competition are “Thunder Road,” directed by Jim Cummings, and “The Unicorn,” directed by Robert Schwartzman, according to a news release.

Among the women-helmed projects competing in SXSW’s Documentary Feature Competition are “Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable” directed by Sasha Waters; “¡Las Sandinistas!,” directed by Jenny Murray; “TransMilitary,” directed by Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson; and “Weed The People, directed by Abby Epstein.

Other SXSW highlights helmed by women include “Blockers,” directed by Kay Cannon; “Boundaries,” directed by Shana Feste; “Fast Color,” directed by Julia Hart; “A Vigilante,” directed by Sarah Daggar Nickson; “Wild Nights With Emily,” directed by Madeleine Olnek; and “Paradox,” directed by Daryl Hannah.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but it’s sure interesting to note that SXSW’s director of film is a woman.

“2018 marks the 25th edition of the SXSW Film Festival and my tenth year at the helm. As we look back on the body of work of talent discovered, careers launched and wonderful films we’ve enjoyed, we couldn’t be more excited about the future,” said Janet Pierson, director of film, in a statement. “This year’s slate, while peppered with works from many of our alumni, remains focused on new voices, new directors and a range of films that entertain and enlighten.”

Writer-director and actor John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place,” a thriller costarring Krasinski and Emily Blunt, will be SXSW’s opening night film.

The Texas film festival draws thousands of fans, filmmakers, press, and industry leaders every year to Austin. During the nine days of SXSW 2018, 132 features will be shown, and the full lineup will include 44 films from first-time filmmakers, 86 world premieres, 11 North American Premieres and five U.S. Premieres. These films were selected from 2,458 feature-length film submissions, with a total of 8,160 films submitted this year, according to a news release.

Feature films in the SXSW lineup screen in 12 sections: Narrative Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Headliners, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Visions, Midnighters, Episodic, 24 Beats Per Second, Global, Festival Favorites, and Special Events.

Midnighters, Shorts, Virtual Cinema, Independent Episodics, Title Sequences, Music Videos and late-breaking Features will be announced on Feb. 7. All feature categories, with the exception of Special Events, will be eligible for category-specific Audience Awards.

Sally Hawkins, left, and Doug Jones appear in a scene from the film "The Shape of Water." Fox Searchlight Pictures photo

Sally Hawkins, left, and Doug Jones appear in a scene from the film “The Shape of Water.” Fox Searchlight Pictures photo

‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ win big at Director’s Guild Awards

Guillermo del Toro won the Directors Guild of America’s top feature award for his fantasy drama “The Shape of Water strengthening the grown-up fairy tale’s position in the Oscar race. (The Shape of Water also won this year’s AWFJ EDA Award for Best Picture).

Variety reports that Jordan Peele won the first-time feature director award at Saturday night’s ceremony for his socially conscious thriller “Get Out.”

Matthew Heineman won the documentary award for “City of Ghosts,” his film about the Syrian media activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. It was the second DGA win for Heineman, who won the category in 2015 for “Cartel Land.”

Three shows focusing on women’s stories — “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Veep” and “Big Little Lies” — won the top TV awards. Reed Morano won her first Directors Guild trophy for top drama series for the “Offred” episode of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Jean-Marc Vallee also earned his first DGA Award for best television and miniseries for “Big Little Lies”; and “Veep” garnered the prize for best comedy series for the “Chiclet” episode directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller, making her a four-time DGA winner.

Niki Caro won the first award of the evening in children’s programs for Netflix’s “Anne with an E” for the “Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny” episode.

Variety reports that DGA President Thomas Schlamme (“The West Wing”) opened the ceremonies Saturday night and emphasized the guild’s commitment to opposing sexual harassment, saying, “This is not just a fight by women for women. They didn’t create this problem. It’s a fight for everyone for a better world for everyone.”

To see the list of DGA winners, click here.

Meryl Streep appears in "The Post." Twentieth Century Fox photo

Meryl Streep appears in “The Post.” Twentieth Century Fox photo

Meryl Streep joins ‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2

On the topic of HBO’s award-winning smash “Big Little Lies,” current Oscar-nominee Meryl Streep (who as previously reported broke her own record with her 21st Academy Award nomination for “The Post”) is joining Season 2 of the juicy drama, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, the mother to the abusive Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard), who came to a bad end during the Emmy-winning first season of the David E. Kelley drama based on the Liane Moriarty novel. She will reportedly arrive in Monterey looking for answers in Season 2.

It will mark a reunion with HBO for Streep, who won an Emmy for her leading role in the premium cable network’s miniseries adaptation of “Angels in America.”

Big Little Lies took home eight Emmys and four Golden Globes and prompted HBO to reach beyond Moriarty’s book to continue the drama. Kelley is confirmed to return and has already penned all seven scripts for season two, which is partially based on a story by Moriarty. As previously reported, British filmmaker Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”) has signed on to direct all seven episodes.

So far, only Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are confirmed to return, while deals with the remainder of the cast are still being worked out, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The New York Times has an interesting feature on Witherspoon and how the success of “Big Little Lies” has given her new clout behind the scenes after she helped produce the acclaimed limited series. When she accepted the Emmy Award for best limited series back in September with the message of how important it is to bring “women to the front of their own stories and make them the heroes of their own stories,” she has reportedly been in big demand as a producer.

“It opened a lot of doors for me,” Witherspoon said in the NYT’s interview. “People wanted to be in business with me as a producer in the TV space. My mission was to create television for other women, for other female storytellers that are actresses, other directors and other writers. I think it just clicked in people’s minds.”

Not only has HBO ordered a second season of “Big Little Lies,” with Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, among the key companies behind the show, but Apple also has bought three Hello Sunshine projects as part of its push to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in streaming. That amounts to a third of Apple’s TV purchases to date.

One of the series — which is set to star Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as hosts of a fictional morning news show — marks one of the most expensive deals in TV history: With a 20-episode commitment, Apple has pledged roughly $240 million to make it, according to two people familiar with the series.

Witherspoon’s other two Apple projects will star Octavia Spencer and Kristen Wiig.

That means Witherspoon has transformed herself from an actress increasingly frustrated with the roles she was being offered into a producer with a slate of projects that puts her in the company of series creators like Dick Wolf, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy. And it’s just in time for the #timesup movement, which counts Witherspoon as a major player, and the blockbuster success of “Wonder Woman” last year, which has brought hard evidence to risk-averse Hollywood suits that projects focused on women not only aren’t a risk but they can actually be huge moneymakers.

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, recently welcomed Mila Kunis to Harvard University, where she received her Woman of the Year award, while the Pudding also announced to moving to gender-neutral casting in next year’s production. Photo via Facebook

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, recently welcomed Mila Kunis to Harvard University, where she received her Woman of the Year award, while the Pudding also announced to moving to gender-neutral casting in next year’s production. Photo via Facebook

Hasty Pudding Theatricals honors Mila Kunis, moves to gender-neutral casting

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, recently welcomed Mila Kunis to Harvard University, where she received her Woman of the Year award, while the Pudding also announced to moving to gender-neutral casting in next year’s production.

The Woman of the Year is the Hasty Pudding Theatricals oldest honor, bestowed annually on performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment. Established in 1951, Woman of the Year has been given to many notable and talented entertainers, including Meryl Streep, Debbie Reynolds, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, and most recently Octavia Spencer (who’s been nominated once again for an Oscar this year), according to a news release.

The Woman of the Year festivities, presented by Related, began Jan. 25 with a parade through the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The weather was cold (but not snowy) as usual for the hometown of Harvard in January. Following the parade, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals hosted a celebratory roast for Kunis at Farkas Hall, the Hasty Pudding’s historic home in the heart of Harvard Square since 1888. At the beginning of the event, Hasty Pudding

Theatricals’ President Amira T. Weeks came on stage and made the exciting announcement for next year: “The Pudding has determined that commencing with the 2019 Hasty Pudding Show, the Hasty Pudding welcomes women to audition for roles in the show and be given equal opportunity to play those roles based on the quality of their individual talents.” It’s a big step for the venerable organization.

Afterward, Kunis was brought on stage and had to earn her Pudding Pot. First, she had to recreate her Jim Beam commercials and try to sell products, after inhaling a balloon’s worth of helium. She also had to prove her mettle as a dancer, á la “Black Swan,” with a dance off to a fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy. She also had to declare her independence from her on-screen cartoon father, Peter Griffin, by throwing a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts at him. Ultimately, Kunis was graciously awarded her Pudding Pot.

To close out the festivities, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals members performed several musical numbers from the group’s 170th production, “Intermission Impossible.”

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals also celebrated their 52nd Man of the Year, Paul Rudd, on Friday. The traditional roast and Pudding Pot ceremony again took place at Farkas Hall, along with the official opening night of “HPT 170: Intermission Impossible.”

-BAM

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×
explore: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |