Financed and shot independently, filmmaker Lydia Dean Pilcher’s thrilling truth-based narrative is about female spies of the Allied resistance during WWII. Forced to consider new avenues for espionage after the Nazis invade France, Sir Winston Churchill resolved to create a covert brigade of female spies within his Special Operations Executive. Spy-mistress Vera Atkins (Stana Katic) was tasked with overseeing this unit, and the bulk of the narrative focuses on the efforts of two of her most effective recruits: American expatriate Virginia Hall (played by Sarah Megan Thomas, who also wrote the script and produced) and Muslim pacifist Noor Inayat Khan (Radhike Aote). Together, these women form a sisterhood while entangled in dangerous missions to build a new type of spy network and help stop Hitler. The film presents powerful female characters and reveals an aspect of women’s herstory that has too long been neglected. Liberte: A Call to Spy is among the female-directed films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Here are Lydia Dean Pilcher’s insightful comments about the making and meaning of the film. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE.
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Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).