AILEY – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Filmmaker Jamila Wignot has such command of her art that she’s been able to make a documentary in such sympathy with its subject, Alvin Ailey, that we feel as though we understand him from the inside out. This quasi-experimental film that pieces together historical footage, archival footage of Ailey’s works and press interviews, reminiscences of people in his life, and a present-day dance in the making presents a biography unlike any I have ever seen.

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SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933) – Retroview by Marilyn Ferdinand

With misogyny and sexual violence back in the headlines, now seems to be the perfect time to reflect on how ancient these related practices are with a viewing of the nearly 90-year-old pre-Coder She Had to Say Yes. The directorial debut of both Busby Berkeley and the film’s editor, George Amy, She Had to Say Yes is without a doubt the most degenerate pre-Code film I have ever seen.

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GROOMED – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

To look at Gwen van de Pas’ enviable life as a business consultant based in San Francisco who has a successful, supportive boyfriend and a loving family in The Netherlands, you’d think she hadn’t a care in the world. She thought so, too, until she started thinking about having children and began having frightening dreams about following a man across a swimming pool deck and into a private shower where blood starts appearing everywhere.

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MIU MIU WOMEN’S TALES – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

For roughly the past decade, Italian high-fashion brand Miu Miu, a subsidiary of Prada, has been commissioning and releasing short films from some of the world’s most renowned women directors. As long as the films include Miu Miu fashions and accessories, the directors have been free to express their own creative impulses and personalities. Within the series, film fans will recognize signature flourishes along with great invention.

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MR. SOUL! – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

I knew nothing about Soul! or the estimable Ellis Haizlip before watching this documentary. I am so happy to have been introduced to both, and I hope that one day soon a show as intelligent, exciting, and unapologetic as Soul! was will return to the airwaves. Meanwhile, I’m very glad we have this documentary.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2020: Ava Duvernay, Filmmaker and Cinema Crusader

It’s hard to think of a more galvanizing, charismatic woman in film than Ava DuVernay. The 47-year-old producer, director, writer, distributor, and crusader for social justice has broken through boundaries and expanded professional and personal possibilities for women — especially women of color — working in film, and everywhere else. DuVernay has our greatest respect for her artistry, her dedication to freedom and equality for all people, and her innovative leadership by example.

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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

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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.

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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.

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