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AWFJ MEMBER NEWS, April 2024 – Wendy Mitchell reports

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists brings together some of the world’s leading female film critics, writers and journalists, and we’re always amazed at the scope and breadth of our colleagues’ creative talents and achievements. Our Member News column spotlights these amazing women and their latest achievements in their professional and personal lives. Help us celebrate our members’ latest successes and milestones.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Amy Poehler honored at CinemaCon 2024 – Brandy McDonnell reports

Primetime Emmy Award winner Amy Poehler will receive this year’s CinemaCon Vanguard Award. CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, is taking place from April 8-11 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Poehler will be presented with the honor at the Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony April 11 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

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CIVIL WAR – Review by Susan Kamyab

Filmmaker Alex Garland’s fourth directorial feature hits harder than most war films. Civil War is a painfully realistic portrayal of a journey across dystopian future America driven by haunting characters, graphic visuals and heart-pounding sound effects. The film focuses on a team of four journalists following the Second American Civil War. Caught between the American government and “Western Forces”, they set out on a suicide mission through a surge of war crimes to reach the president before rebel coalitions strike the White House.

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LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I first saw this last year, and it has been embedded in my brain ever since, like an itchy splinter. I thought: This is an astonishing movie: uniquely fresh while also deeply lodged in the history of cinematic horror. But it’s now been a bit soured by the recent news that the filmmakers utilized “AI” “art” in their production design.

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APOLONIA. APOLONIA- Review by Diane Carson

Apolonia, Apolonia follows an aspiring painter through her struggles. Danish director Lea Glob reports that during a 2009 Skype call Apolonia Sokol captured her attention with a composed, mesmerizing presence. Studying in the Danish Film School, required to complete a film project, Glob embarked on what later became a thirteen year collaboration resulting in the two hour documentary Apolonia, Apolonia revealing the daunting challenges to becoming a successful painter.

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St. Louis Jewish Film Fest 2024 – Diane Carson reports

Fulfilling their mission to showcase “national and international cinema that explores universal issues through traditional Jewish values, opposing viewpoints and new perspectives,” the ten feature films and an opening night program of shorts educate and entertain in diverse ways. First, Sunday, April 7, five student filmmakers enrolled at Sapir College in Sderot, Israel countered Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack and massacre through films reflecting their and Israel’s responses. In diverse and powerful ways, each captures life’s changes at times of crisis when Sapir College had to suspend all activities amidst evacuation orders.

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SCOOP – Review by Susan Granger

Scoop, Netflix’s drama about the downfall of Prince Andrew, drives home the old proverb – “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas” – a warning to be mindful of who we surround ourselves with and what behavior we condone. The plot of Scoop revolves around how – back in 2019 – the BBC secured an exclusive interview with the Duke of York about his friendship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The broadcast ultimately triggered Andrew’s disgrace, confiscating his HRH title, patronages and removing him from Royal life.

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CIVIL WAR – Review by Diane Carson

Civil War warns but doesn’t inform. Writer/director Alex Garland’s new film Civil War is just that, about a U.S. civil war. Don’t look for any issues beyond learning that California and Texas, yes, those two alone and together, have. As a dystopian reality terrorizes the country, four journalists undertake a road trip from New York to Charlottesville, Virginia, front lines of the rebellion.

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CIVIL WAR – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

In Civil War, writer-director Alex Garland depicts the last days of democracy, staging intense courtyard firefights, street riots, and soldiers firing RPGs at the Lincoln Memorial. Yet his dystopian vision isn’t just out to provoke. Reminiscent of other journalism war films such as 1984’s The Killing Fields, with characters struggling to make sense out of chaos, this is an intelligent, propulsive, and shattering film about the costs of division and the toll of recording history.

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CIVIL WAR – Review by Leslie Combemale

What’s in a name? In the case of writer/director Alex Garland’s Civil War, it might mean the difference between the success of a worthy film and a stumble at the box office. He’s not trying to make a stand about what’s happening in America. He’s not trying to be subjective in that way. Civil War is more about the impact of combat journalists committed to uncovering the raw truth of war; that it is brutal and senseless. Folks walking into the theater hungry for him to take a political stand about the potential dangers of polarization currently happening in the US will not be sated. If, however, they are looking for a powerful cinematic experience that shakes them to their foundations, that they’ll get. Not exactly an enjoyable experience, Civil War is a near-constant assault to the senses that amps up the tension moment by moment to the film’s last frames that will become essential viewing in anyone’s list of great war movies.

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