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.

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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.

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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.”

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Pamela B. Green on BE NATURAL and Alice Guy Blache’s Untold Story – Marilyn Ferdinand interviews

What would induce a woman with a successful entertainment and motion graphic design business to put it all on the back burner and become, in her words, “an official poor documentarian?” For Pamela B. Green, who produced titles and graphics for major motion pictures and the Academy Awards, it was a television show that included some information about a woman who would come to dominate her life for more than a decade—Alice Guy-Blaché.

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VAGABOND (Sans toit ni loi, 1985) – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

In her 2000 documentary, The Gleaners & I, Agnes Varda examines the historical practice of gleaning the remains of harvests from the fields where they fell and then broadens it to include the salvaging of any refuse. Going back 15 years from this diverting, meditative documentary is Varda’s documentary-like masterwork about another type of refuse, the mysterious and sad Vagabond, a young social castoff named Mona.

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ROLL RED ROLL – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Any time I forget how so many people could vote for a candidate who was caught on tape describing how sexual assault is part of his nature, all I’ll have to do is watch Roll Red Roll again. Here, in graphic detail, is a portrait of rape culture in Steubenville, Ohio, a community like so many across the country and around the world that prizes feeling like a winner above all else.

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AWFJ’s REAL REEL WOMEN: Watch List For Women’s History Month

Released to celebrate Women’s History Month, AWFJ’s REAL REEL WOMEN List is an annotated roster of 50 fascinating real women whose lives are memorialized in narrative films. Since cinema’s earliest days, movies about iconic women pilots and poets, artists, actors, political activists, princesses and others from all walks of life have enthralled audiences, accrued awards and scored at the box office while influencing our social mores and enriching our cultural conversation. Read our REAL REEL WOMEN List and enjoy their stories on film.

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3 FACES – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Since the Iranian government imposed a 20-year filmmaking ban on Jafar Panahi in 2010, the scrappy director has made and smuggled out four films, including his latest, 3 Faces. The irrepressible Panahi is critical of Iran’s repressions against women and continues to plead for their freedom in this farcical, subversive film.

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Defining Feminist Film Criticism – Marilyn Ferdinand comments

If I feel a film does not honor the people and places it depicts, if it has a bias toward one group to the great detriment of another, if it is not honest, then I will likely give it a bad review. I also give bad reviews to films that are poorly written and executed, regardless of their humanity or lack thereof.

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