LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Linda Ronstadt busted through every barrier niche marketers of the recording industry put in her way and sang every style of music she wanted to tackle. Folk, country, rock, pop, R&B, mariachi, classics from the American songbook, operetta, opera—she did it all, and did it well. The round-faced phenom from Tucson deserves a great documentary, and she gets one with Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

Read more

ONE CHILD NATION – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

During the 1970s, China’s population reached 1 billion. Fearing widespread famine, the government imposed a limit of one child per family and began enforcing it in 1979 with propaganda and strong-arm tactics. Human population growth is a real problem, but One Child Nation argues through the stark emotions of the midwife, artist, family planning official, and affected families who spoke out for the camera that legislating it out of existence is not the answer.

Read more

JOAN THE MAID 1 AND 2: THE BATTLES AND THE PRISONS – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

French director Jacques Rivette’s acclaimed two-part, six-hour-long Joan the Maid 1 and 2: The Battles and The Prisons (1994) has been restored and released by Cohen Media Group, representing a huge improvement over the extant versions of the classic film, one of which cut the running time by two hours. Joan the Maid provides an accurate and complete version of a story known to many only in terms of fiery martyrdom. Rivette’s humanizing chronicle brings Joan back to life without disturbing her religious mystery.

Read more

ABOVE THE SHADOWS – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

The protagonist in Claudia Myers’ drama Above the Shadows is not only invisible, but also unheard. She started fading at the age of 10, just after her mother died, and is unremembered by her family. Myers challenges us to look at ourselves through the eyes of others and drop our self-centered grievances long enough to see what other people may be going through. Myers’ script is ingenious and her direction of her actors masterful in making scenes with a supposedly invisible character work.

Read more

OPHELIA – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

The genius of William Shakespeare has been a bottomless well of inspiration for creators down through the ages—flexible enough to absorb all manner of revision, from modern dress to modern English, and timeless enough to speak to successive generations with the common language of the human heart. Novelist Lisa Klein published Ophelia, her revisionist take on Hamlet in 2006, and now director Claire McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Chellas have brought her vision to the screen.

Read more

MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Angelou was a certified renaissance woman whose one long lifetime ranged farther and higher than most people of any race or class, let alone an African-American woman from a broken home who was dropped into Jim Crow Arkansas following several years in more permissive California and then experienced the racial tumult of every decade to the present. As the directors of And Still I Rise put it, “An eloquent poet, writer and performer, Maya Angelou’s life intersected with the civil rights struggle, the Harlem Writers Guild, the New Africa movement, the women’s movement and the cultural and political realignments of the 1970s and ’80s.”

Read more

ASK FOR JANE – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

As a legal showdown over the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion looms, a modest, low-budget film from a first-time director reminds us of what life was like before Roe v. Wade. Ask for Jane tells the story of the Jane Collective, a Chicago-based abortion service that operated in the shadows from 1969 to 1973 to provide safe abortions to women before Roe made their work unnecessary.

Read more

HEATHER BOOTH: CHANGING THE WORLD – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

The sheer volume of Booth’s activities would be a challenge to any documentarian, but director Lilly Rivlin takes us through Booth’s life and career economically through the use of Booth’s audio diary, begun in September 2015, and interviews in which Booth recounts her personal history. What emerges is an inspiring portrait of a highly effective activist who has accomplished a great deal in her 70+ years on this planet.

Read more

SPOTLIGHT May 2019: Margarethe von Trotta, Director, Actress, Leading Force of the New German Cinema

After 50 years of fearless determination as a director working largely in the German film industry, Margarethe von Trotta is set to receive a lifetime achievement honor on May 3 at the 2019 German Film Awards in Berlin. Announcing the decision to recognize her, German Film Academy president Ulrich Matthes said, “In a time when women were rarely allowed to direct, Margarethe von Trotta said, ‘I can do that! In all these years she’s given us some of the most intense female figures in German cinema.”

Read more