Valentine’s Day Special: Men We Love – 2022 Edition

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To celebrate Valentine’s Day 2022, AWFJ is posting this virtual Valentine to express our love for our male colleagues who’ve embraced the causes of gender parity and inclusively, and to honor the work they’ve done and are doing to level the playing field for women working in film. For many of them, advocacy and activism for better representation of women on camera and behind the lens dates back to before #MeToo became an iconic hashtag and the feminist movement marched into the spotlight. We applaud their focus on women in film. Here, then, is our 2022 virtual bouquet to twelve Men We Love, named in alphabetical order. With this bouquet, we are sending you each a virtual rose and a dozen virtual candy hearts.


Uniquely devoted to women’s stories, auteur Almodovar has launched the careers of a who’s who of female actors, with the roster topped by Penelope Cruz, now nominated for a 2022 Best Actress Oscar for her wonderful performance in his latest feminist film, Parallel Mothers.


In 2015, Craig called Agent 007 a “mysoginist” and said he’d rather die than play Bond again. But he’s back as the iconic spy in No Time to Die, in which he has a truly loving relationship with a women before he’s blown up — making way for a new 007, played by a woman. Now Bond-free, We hope to see Bond-free Craig cast in female-friendlier roles.

Actor and athlete Terry Crews brought the sexual harassment of men to public attention by having the courage to speak up and share his personal story of abuse by a Hollywood honcho. Crews refers to himself as a feminist, and continues to decry the idea of the “man code.”


With visionary female focus, producer Cassian Elwes supports female filmmakers through the Horizon Award, covering all-expense-paid attendance at Sundance Film Festival where recipients screen their films for influential directors and producers, attend workshops and events, and are mentored by Elwes and other producers.


As VP of Creative Content at Shondaland, Esquivel facilitates development of all new Shondaland projects and oversees the company’s diversity and inclusion initiative for writers and directors which expands opportunities for women in film through Shondaland’s projects on Netflix, including the recently released Inventing Anna.


Paul Feig is a key booster of ReFrame, combating Hollywood gender inequality by mentoring women directors, opening work opportunities, and awarding the Reframe Stamp to productions with women or individuals of underrepresented gender identities in four out of eight key roles (writer, director, producer, lead, co-leads, department heads).


Canadian director/writer/actor/professor Chase Joynt always supports the trans community in his work, including No Ordinary Man (2020, with Aisling Chin-Yee) and this year’s Framing Agnes, reframing transgender histories with trans performers of all ages, genders, and colors.


Dealmaker Charles King left his position as a top talent agent to establish Macro, a production platform for women and men of color to tell authentic, relatable stories that interest their communities. As a producer of Mudbound, King furthered the careers of director Dee Rees, cinematographer Rachel Morrison and actress Mary J. Blige.

JEAN MARC-VALLEE (In Memoriam, 1963-2021):

The French-Canadian director doubled-down on the acclaimed lady-led HBO projects Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, and Big Little Lies, marshaling the extraordinary talents of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern, among other leading ladies.


Publicist David Ninh championed women in film at New York Film Festival and Kino Lorber, where he helped to establish AWFJ Presents, a curated online series of classic female directed films. Now at Netflix, he focuses on diversity and inclusion within their Multicultural Publicity team, pushing the film industry tell stories of people of all genders and ethnicities.


Writer/director/Monkeypaw Productions CEO, Jordan Peele promotes Black women filmmakers. He hired Nia DeCosta to helm the Candyman reboot, centered US on Lupita Nyong’o, and exec produced Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul (2022, written/directed by Adamma Ebo, produced by Adanne Ebo, starring Regina Hall). Need we say more?

In addition to creating a $100-million fund to support mentoring, hiring and promotion of diverse filmmakers of all genres and ethnicities, Netflix’s Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer hire women as department heads and show runners, and has shepherded Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog to adoration in 2022’s Oscars race. All hail, Sarandos!
Happy Valentine’s Day 2022!

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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 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 a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).