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. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually short on new releases, and 2021 is no exception. Instead of listing new releases for this holiday week, we are listing a selection of a dozen female-directed and femme-centric films that are garnering seasonal movie awards attention in various categories and should be toppers on your year end watch roster:
ASCENSION – MTV Documentary Films (Cinemas) – China – Documentary directed by Jessica Kingdon that explores the pursuit of the “Chinese Dream.” This observational documentary presents a contemporary vision of China that prioritizes productivity and innovation above all else.
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.
I’M YOUR MAN – Bleecker Street (Cinemas) – Germany – Romantic comedy directed by Maria Schrader, starring Jan Schomburg, Dan Stevens and Sandra Huller. In order to obtain research funds for her studies, a scientist accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment: for three weeks, she is to live with a humanoid robot, created to make her happy.
JULIA – Sony Pictures Classics (Cinemas) – USA – Documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West. Julia tells the story of the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women.
THE LOST DAUGHTER – Netflix (Cinemas; Netflix) – USA / Greece – Drama written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, adapted from the novel by Elena Ferrante. A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past. Starring Olivia Coleman and Dakota Johnson.
THE NOVICE – IFC (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – Thriller written and directed by Lauren Hadaway, starring Isabelle Fuhrman. An obsessive novice rower climbs the ranks of her college’s rowing team.
PASSING – Netflix (Cinemas; Netflix) – UK / USA – Drama written and directed by Rebecca Hall, adapted from the novel by Nella Larsen. Passing follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities. Starring Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland.
THE POWER OF THE DOG – Netflix (Cinemas; Netflix) – UK / Australia / USA / Canada / New Zealand – Drama written and directed by Jane Campion, based on the novel by Thomas Savage. Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst. Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
– Kino Lorber – USA – Written and directed by Shatara Michelle Ford, Test Pattern follows an interracial couple whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit.
TITANE Neon (Cinemas) – France / Belgium – Sophomore feature from director Julia Ducournau (Raw), winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2021. Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years. Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys.
WRITING WITH FIRE – Music Box Films (Cinemas) – India – Documentary co-directed by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas. In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, redefining what it means to be powerful.
ZOLA – A24 (Cinemas) – USA – Twitter-inspired drama about a stripper named Zola who embarks on a wild road trip to Florida. Based on a viral tweet-narrative, directed by Janicza Bravo, starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo. Co-written by Jeremy O. Harris.
Click on each title for AWFJ’s full coverage of the film to augment these descriptions which are are adapted from press releases. Stay tuned in for next week’s releases! Contact us if we’ve overlooked anything.