SAUDI WOMEN’S DRIVING SCHOOL – Review by Leslie Combemale

director Erica Gornall’s new documentary Saudi Women’s Driving School examines the changes in the lives of women in Saudi Arabia resulting from a lift of the driving ban. As of June 24th, 2018, women could apply for licenses. Before that day, the country had been the only one in the world in which women were forbidden to drive motor vehicles.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2019: Issa Lopez, Filmmaker, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

Writer/director Issa López is an exciting new voice in genre film, although she’s been a successful figure in the Mexican film industry since the early part of the 21st century. Her aesthetic is anchored in a blend of magical realism and the grittiness and stark reality of the real world, all seen from a horror-drenched version of the female gaze. She found success early in her career writing rom-coms and comedies that broke box office records, but left that all behind to focus on creating genre films true to her own creative inclinations, most recently resulting in the brilliant Tigers Are Not Afraid.

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DOWNTON ABBEY – Review by Leslie Combemale

You don’t really know the fans of Downton Abbey until you sit in a darkened theater as the first strains of the theme song start playing, to a bust of applause, and even a few gasps. Thus begins the feature film that feels like its only raison d’etre is to tie all the storylines and character arcs into big, flouncy bows, of the kind one sees on the back of a bejeweled 20s-era frock.

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RIOT GIRLS – Review by Leslie Combemale

Imagine a post-apocalyptic Stand By Me where queer girls rule and save the day, and you have a vague idea of the aesthetic of the Canadian uber-indie thriller Riot Girls. The film is filled with up-and-coming female filmmakers, including director Jovanka Vuckovic, writer Katherine Collins, producer Lauren Grant, and a host of other below-the-line artists, including cinematographer Celiana Cardenas, production designer Jennifer Morden, and editor Maureen Grant.

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Kim Farrant on acting, emotional health and ANGEL OF MINE – Leslie Combemale interviews

Kim Farrant’sAngel of Mine is an intense thriller about a woman whose tenuous emotional health is jeopardized when she encounters a girl she believes to be her daughter, whom she thought died in a fire years before. Farrant worked with the actors on expressing the enormity of grief and the power of healing in this gripping film with a big surprise ending.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by Leslie Combemale

There is much to love about Vita & Virginia, the new release directed by Chanya Button, and co-written by Button and actress Eileen Atkins. Atkins adapted the story from her successful stage play, in which she starred as famed writer Virginia Woolf opposite Vanessa Redgrave, who portrayed her lover, socialite and intellectual Vita Sackville-West.

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Gurinder Chadha on BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, Human Dignity, Brexit and the Boss – Leslie Combemale interviews

Writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha is one of the UK’s most beloved, prolific filmmakers. The fact that she’s female seems incidental. She landed on Hollywood’s radar with Bend it Like Beckham (2002), which threw Keira Knightly’s career into hyperdrive. Among her films is the Jane Austin fan cult favorite, , Bride and Prejudice. She’s developing an animated musical series, Pashmina, for Netflix. I spoke to Gurinder about her new film, Blinded by the Light, about the joy that carries through the movie, the universal power of Bruce Springsteen, and how she believes being a woman impacts her work as a filmmaker.

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