Opening Apr 29 to May 5, 2024 – 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 April 29 – May 5 that are of particular interest, Titles highlighted in red have links to full reviews:  

Tuesday, April 30

  • My Divorce Party – Gravitas Ventures (VOD) – USA – Comedy written and directed by Heidi Weitzer. Divorcee Xan gathers her close friends to celebrate her impending split, only to reveal she intends to burn her divorce settlement money to start fresh. Chaos ensues as each friend has a wildly different opinion on what Xan should do.

Thursday, May 2

  • The Contestant – Hulu – UK – Documentary written and directed by Claire Titley. A Japanese reality TV star was left naked in a room for more than a year, tasked with filling out magazine sweepstakes to earn food and clothing.
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  • The Idea of You – Amazon (Prime) – USA – Romance. Solène, a 40-year-old single mom, begins an unexpected romance with 24-year-old Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of August Moon, the hottest boy band on the planet.
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  • Jeanne du Barry – Vertical Entertainment (Cinemas) – international co-production – Biographical drama co-written and directed by Maïwenn. The life of Jeanne Bécu who was born as the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished seamstress in 1743 and went on to rise through the Court of Louis XV to become his last official mistress.
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  • Secrets of the Neanderthals – Netflix – UK – Documentary directed by Ashley Gething. Kieri and Ryo deeply love each other. Ryo gets kidnapped, Kieri searches for him aided by a spirit. Ryo escapes but they face obstacles proving their love’s worth. A story of love, abduction, pursuit and overcoming challenges to reunite.
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  • Turtles All the Way Down – HBO (Max) – USA – Drama directed by Hannah Marks. A teenager with OCD tries to solve a mystery surrounding a fugitive billionaire.

Friday, May 3

  • Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg – Magnolia Pictures (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – Documentary co-directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill. This intimate documentary reveals the story of a fierce rock ‘n’ roller, actress, muse and mother who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s.
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  • Death Without Mercy – MTV Documentary Films – USA / UK – Documentary directed by Waad Al-Kateab. Chronologically assembled from the reports of hundreds of newscasters, cameramen, and civilians representing the days following the tragic event of the February 6, 2023 earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
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  • Finding the Money – Giant Pictures (Cinemas) – USA – Documentary directed by Maren Poitras. An underdog group of economists is on a mission to instigate a paradigm shift by flipping our understanding of the national debt, and the nature of money, upside down.
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  • I Saw the TV Glow – A24 (Cinemas) – USA – Drama written and directed by Jane Schoenbrun. Two teenagers bond over their love of a supernatural TV show that is mysteriously canceled.
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  • Lost Soulz – Kino Lorber (Cinemas) – USA – Drama written and directed by Katherine Propper. A young rapper leaves everything behind and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery, music, and friendship in the heart of Texas.
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  • Prom Dates – Hulu – USA – Drama directed by Kim O. Nguyen. Jess and Hannah, at 13-years-old made a pact to have the perfect prom, but 24 hours before the big event, everything is ruined when they break up with their dates. Now they have one night to find new dates and make their fantasy come true.
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  • Slow – KimStim (Cinemas) – Lithuania / Spain / Sweden – Drama written and directed by Marija Kavtaradze. Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.
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  • Something in the Water – Samuel Goldwyn Films (Cinemas, VOD) – USA – Thriller directed by Hayley Easton Street. Follows a group of five girlfriends who must fight for their lives in open water after a dream wedding transformed into a nightmare.
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  • Wildcat – Oscilloscope (Cinemas) – USA – Biographical drama starring Maya Hawke. Follows the life of writer Flannery O’Connor while she was struggling to publish her first novel.

Film descriptions are adapted from press releases. Titles highlighted in red 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.