Opening August 9 to 15, 2021- Margaret Barton-Fumo reports

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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 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 August 9 to 15 that are of particular interest:  

Now Playing:  

  • Materna – Utopia (Cinema Village in NY; VOD release August 10) – USA – Drama. A closely observed psychological portrait of four women whose lives are bound together by an incident on the New York City subway. Directed by David Gutnik; co-written by Gutnik with Assol Abdullina and Jade Eshete.

Wednesday, August 11  

  • Misha and the Wolves – Netflix – Belgium / UK – Documentary about Misha Defonseca. The dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher – who turned detective – revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth.

Thursday, August 12 

  • Homeroom – Hulu (cinemas, Hulu) – USA – Documentary following Oakland High School’s class of 2020 as they confront an unprecedented year. Based on the story by Kristina Motwani and Peter Nicks.

Friday, August 13 

  • Charming the Hearts of Men – Gravitas Ventures (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – A romantic drama set during the politically charged early ’60s where a sophisticated woman returns to her Southern home town and discovers her options are limited yet discrimination is plentiful. With the help of a Congressional ally, she inspires historic legislation which allows opportunities and protections never before afforded to women. Directed by S.E. DeRose.

  • CODA – Apple TV (Cinemas, Apple TV) – USA / France – Drama written and directed by Sian Heder. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

  • Curiosa – Film Movement (Virtual Cinemas, VOD) – France – French drama directed by Lou Jeunet, starring Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire). A passionate love story set against a backdrop of sexual freedom, loosely based on the relationship between 19th-century authors Pierre Louÿs and Marie de Régnier.

  • Days – Grasshopper Films (Cinemas) – Taiwan / France – Latest drama from Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-liang. Kang lives alone in a big house, Non in a small apartment in town. They meet, and then part, their days flowing on as before.

  • Ema – Music Box Films (Cinemas) – Chile – Musical drama from director Pablo Larrain (Jackie). A couple deals with the aftermath of an adoption that goes awry as their household falls apart. Starring Mariana Di Girólamo and Gael García Bernal.

  • The Faithful: The King, The Pope, The Princess – Fish in the Hand Productions (Virtual Cinemas, NY Premiere) – USA – Documentary written, directed and filmed by Annie Berman. A lollipop officially licensed by the Vatican sparks filmmaker Annie Berman’s 20-year exploration of fandom, memorabilia, and legacy within the orbits of three cultural icons: Pope John Paul II, Elvis Presley, and Diana, Princess of Wales.

  • The Meaning of Hitler – IFC Films (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – Documentary co-directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker. An inquiry into decades of cultural fascination with the Nazi leader, and the ramifications of such a fascination on present day politics.

  • Not Going Quietly – Greenwich Entertainment (Cinemas in NY+LA) – USA – Documentary about activist and loving father Ady Barkan, diagnosed with ALS at age 32 who, in spite of declining physical abilities, embarks on a nationwide campaign for healthcare reform. Directed by Nicholas Bruckman; co-written by Bruckman with Amanda Roddy and Martha Shane.

  • Respect – United Artists (Cinemas) – Canada / USA – Biopic about Aretha Franklin, written by Tracey Scott Wilson, based on a story by Callie Khouri and directed by Liesl Tommy. Starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald.

  • White As Snow – Cohen Media Group (Cinemas) – France / Belgium – French dramedy directed by Anne Fontaine, written by Fontaine with Claire Barré and Pascal Bonitzer, starring Lou de Laâge and Isabelle Huppert. Claire, a beautiful young woman works at her late father’s hotel that is now managed by her evil stepmother Maud.

Sunday, August 15 

  • Queen of the Beach – October Coast (VOD) – Canada – Documentary. A Canadian filmmaker befriends a 9-year-old girl hawking clothes and jewelry on a hippie-lovers’ beach in Goa, India, and returns 3 times over the next 7 years to capture her story and help her achieve her childhood dream of going to school.

Film descriptions are adapted from press releases. Stay tuned in for next week’s releases! Contact us if we’ve overlooked anything.

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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.