Opening Dec 27, 2021 – Jan 1 , 2022- 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. 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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    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.
     

  • TEST PATTERN
  • – 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.

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    Jennifer Merin

    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).