RAFIKI – Review by Leslie Combemale

The word rafiki means “friend” in Swahili. Kenyan same-sex couples often have to refer to or introduce their partners as rafiki in public, and to many of their friends and family. One of the best qualities of this film is that the lead characters, while clearly drawn to each other, genuinely want to get to know each other, and to build their love on a foundation of friendship.

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UNTOGETHER – Review by Leslie Combemale

Untogether examines creativity and intimacy, how they intertwine, give rise to inspiration and feelings of inadequacy, and often self-destruct under the pressure we put on them. There are moving scenes that will ring true to anyone who has struggled to keeping their inner fire stoked, but is likely to evoke frustration in viewers forced to watch such self-obsessed characters over the 98 minute running time.

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SPOTLIGHT February 2019: Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director, Women In Film Los Angeles

AWFJ’s February SPOTLIGHT illuminates the career and accomplishments of one of the most inspiring women making a difference in Hollywood. Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women in Film: Los Angeles, has been a leader in the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, and has been in the forefront of the fight for parity and safe working environments for women in the film industry through the Weinstein and other abuse scandals.

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RUST CREEK – Review by Leslie Combemale

Female moviegoers have had to learn to accept that they aren’t going to be represented three-dimensionally in a large percentage of films released. This is particularly true in thrillers, which are often made inside the studio system. Watching Rust Creek, a realization dawns about how rare it is to see a capable, strong everywoman work her way through a dangerous situation that has put her very life at risk.

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Jen McGowan talks RUST CREEK and FilmPowered Women – Leslie Combemale interviews

In the world of cinema, sometimes filmgoers don’t know what they are missing until they see it. Director Jen McGowan’s Rust Creek is an escape thriller that centers on college student Sawyer Scott (Hermione Corfield) who gets lost in the back roads of Kentucky only to be attacked and hunted deep into the forest by two local men. Rust Creek reframes the genre.

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JINN – Review by Leslie Combemale

Jinn, a semi-autobiographical first feature by writer/director Nijla Mu’min, articulates the challenges many face in their own lives, and it comes right on time. A coming-of-age drama about a teen grappling with her mother’s conversion to Islam and her own shifting beliefs, it shows the sides of the religion not often displayed in the media or on film, especially the kindness and love asked of its followers in all interpersonal relationships.

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