Opening August 16 to 22, 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 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 August 16 to 22 that are of particular interest:  

Wednesday, August 18  

  • In the Same Breath – HBO – USA – Documentary directed by Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation). How did the Chinese government turn pandemic cover ups in Wuhan into a triumph for the Communist party?

Thursday, August 19  

  • The Smartest Kids in the World – Discovery+ – Multi-International Co-Production – Documentary directed by Tracy Doz Tragos. Based on the book by Amanda Ripley: the story of four teenagers studying abroad in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education.

Friday, August 20 

  • Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power – Greenwich Entertainment (Cinemas, Amazon Prime) – USA – Documentary directed by Abby Ginzberg about Representative Barbara Lee, a steadfast voice for human rights, peace and economic and racial justice.
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  • Confetti – Dada Films (Cinemas) – USA – Drama written and directed by Ann Hu that centers around a traditional Chinese family who face a number of obstacles after their daughter is diagnosed with dyslexia.
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  • Flag Day – United Artists / MGM (Cinemas) – USA – Drama directed by Sean Penn based on the source novel by Jennifer Vogel. A father lives a double life as a counterfeiter, bank robber and con man in order to provide for his daughter.
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  • Habit – Lionsgate (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – Action-comedy directed by Janell Shirtcliff, written by Shirtcliff and Libby Mintz. A street smart party girl gets mixed up in a violent drug deal and finds a possible way out by masquerading as a Nun. Starring Bella Thorne.
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  • Ma Belle, My Beauty – Good Deed Entertainment / WaZabi Films (Cinemas) – USA / France – Romantic drama written and directed by Marion Hill. A surprise reunion in the South of France reignites passions and jealousies between two women who were formerly polyamorous lovers.
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  • Moments Like This Never Last – Utopia (NY Premiere at Quad Cinema) – Canada / USA – Documentary directed by Cheryl Dunn. Artist Dash Snow rejected a life of privilege to make his own way as an artist on the streets of downtown New York City in the late 1990s, developing from a notorious graffiti tagger into an international art star.
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  • The Night House – Walt Disney / Searchlight (Cinemas) – UK / USA – Horror / thriller starring Rebecca Hall, Stacy Martin, Sarah Goldberg. A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets.
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  • The Outsider – Abramorama (VOD) – USA – Documentary co-directed by Steven Rosenbaum and Pamela Yoder about 9/11 photographer Michael Shulan.
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  • Rare Beasts – Kaleidoscope (Cinemas, VOD) – UK – Dramedy written by, directed by and starring Billie Piper. An anti rom-com about Mandy, a career-driven single mother, who falls in love with the charming, traditionalist Pete.
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  • Reminiscence – Warner Brothers / HBO Max (Cinemas, HBO Max) – USA – Romantic sci-fi written and directed by Lisa Joy, starring Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton. A scientist discovers a way to relive your past and uses the technology to search for his long lost love.
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  • Risen – Vertical Entertainment (VOD) – Australia / USA – Female-led sci-fi, lensed by Susan Lumsdon. Disaster unfolds when a meteor strikes a small town, turning the environment uninhabitable and killing everything in the surrounding area.
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  • Unapologetic – Kartemquin Films (Chicage Premiere at Gene Siskel Film Center) – USA – Documentary directed by Ashley O’Shay. Set during the height of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, Unapologetic captures a community of millennial organizers confronting an administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents.
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  • Wildland – BAC Films (Cinemas) – Denmark – Danish thriller co-written and directed by Jeanette Nordahl. Ida moves in with her aunt and cousins after the tragic death of her mother in a car accident. The home is filled with love, but outside of the home, the family leads a violent and criminal life.

Film descriptions are adapted from press releases. Highlighted titles 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

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.