Opening May 4 to 7, 2021 – Margaret Barton-Fumo previews

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The Alliance of Women Film Journalists highlights movies made by and about women. With a vigilant eye toward current releases, we maintain an interactive record of films that are pertinent to our interests. Be they female-made or female-centric productions, they are films that represent a wide range of women’s stories and present complex female characters. As such, they are movies that will most likely be reviewed on AWFJ.org and will qualify for consideration for our annual EDA Awards, celebrating exceptional women working in film behind and in front of the camera. Our members are feature writers, columnists and regular contributors to a variety of media outlets and many of us publish regularly on the festival circuit. Our critical voices are widespread and diverse. We invite you to join us in tracking weekly releases of particular interest. And we welcome information about new films that will help us to keep our records updated and our critics alert. Below is a concise list of new releases set for the week of May 3 to 9 that are of particular interest:  

Tuesday, May 4  

  • Rustic Oracle – Independent Production – Canada/USA – Writer/director Sonia Boileau’s narrative feature is about a missing Mohawk teenage girl and her mother’s desperate attempt to find her.

Thursday, May 6  

  • In Our Mothers’ Gardens – Netflix (Cinemas, Netflix) – USA – Documentary directed by Shantrelle P. Lewis that celebrates the strength and resiliency of Black women and Black families through the complex and often humorous relationship between mothers and daughters.

Friday, May 7  

  • The Boy from Medellín – Amazon Studios (Amazon Prime) – USA – Documentary following Columbian reggaeton singer J. Balvin as he prepares for his 2019 homecoming concert amid intense political turmoil.
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  • The Columnist – Film Movement (VOD) – Netherlands – Dutch crime/revenge dramedy starring Katja Herbers as a columnist flooded with anonymous vicious messages and death threats on social media. One day she has enough and decides to take revenge.
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  • Duty Free – Independent Production – USA – After a 75 year-old mother gets fired from her hotel housekeeping job, her son takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life. As she struggles to find work, he documents a journey that uncovers betrayals plaguing her past and the economic insecurity she faces for the future.
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  • Emily @ the Edge of Chaos – Kino Lorber (Virtual Cinemas/Kino Marquee) – USA – Documentary directed and produced by Wendy Apple, written and starring the late humorist Emily Levine. The film interweaves Emily Levine’s live performance with animation, appearances by scientists, and animated characters to explain our metaphysics – the story of our values, our institutions, our interactions.
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  • Knots: A Forced Marriage Story – Independent Production – USA – Documentary produced and directed by Kate Ryan Brewer follows three women who were forced during their teen years to marry older men and bear children. Now emancipated, they tell their stories as a form of advocacy for legislation to stop still prevalent forced childhood marriages in the United States.
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  • Locked In – Saban Films (Cinemas) – USA – Crime/thriller starring Mena Suvari as a single mother who must protect herself and her daughter during a heist gone wrong at a high-tech storage facility.
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  • Mainstream – IFC Films (Cinemas) – USA – Comedy/drama written and directed by Gia Coppola (Palo Alto), shot by cinematographer Autumn Durald. Three people struggle to preserve their identities as they form an eccentric love triangle within the fast-moving internet age.
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  • Paper Spiders – Entertainment Squad (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – A bittersweet drama about a young woman coming of age in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Starring Peyton List and Lili Taylor. Co-written by Inon and Natalie Shampanier.
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  • Queen Marie of Romania – Samuel Goldwyn Films (VOD) – Romania – Female-scripted historical drama co-directed by Alexis Cahill and Brigitte Drodtloff. Devastated by the First World War and plunged into political controversy, the queen of Romania heads to Paris to lobby for international recognition of its great unification at the 1919 peace talks.
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  • State Funeral – Mubi (Cinemas) – Netherlands/Lithuania – Documentary from Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, Donbass). The enigma of the personality cult is revealed in the grand spectacle of Joseph Stalin’s funeral, featuring unprecedented archival access to the dramatic and absurd experience of life and death under Stalin’s reign.
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  • The Water Man – RLJE Films/Netflix (Cinemas) – USA – Directorial debut by actor David Oyelowo, written by Emma Needell. A boy sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers.

Film descriptions are adapted from press releases. Highlighted films have links to full reviews. Stay tuned in for next week’s releases! Contact us if we’ve overlooked anything.

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Margaret Barton-Fumo

Margaret Barton-Fumo

Based in New York, Margaret Barton-Fumo has contributed to Film Comment since 2006. Her monthly online column, “Deep Cuts,” focused on the intersection of film and music. She has interviewed such directors, actors, and musicians as Brian De Palma, James Gray, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Williams, and has additionally contributed to Senses of Cinema and Stop Smiling. She is the editor of Paul Verhoeven: Interviews, published by the University Press of Mississippi.