AWFJ Presents: AMOUR FOU – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

The careful framing, gorgeous period settings, brilliantly orchestrated set-pieces, and vibrant colors of this film are a feast for the eyes, and I admired the subtle performances of this uniformly fine cast, especially Birte Schnoeink. She initially emerges as a shallow hausfrau without a thought in her head that her husband and acquaintances haven’t put there. As her situation grows more dire and her choices narrow, our laughter gives way to concern and a contemplation of what we owe to society and what we owe to ourselves. There is a shocking ambiguity to her actions and a genuine poignancy to her growing attraction to the eternal, but is she the victim of yet another man dumping his desires into her empty cranium? Trapped between two equally distressing outcomes from the audience’s point of view, we wait anxiously for Henriette to make her choice.

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WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

One of the most horrifying things that has happened in these horrifying times in human history is the war Russia is waging against Ukraine. This documentary shows how Ukrainians have protested Russian dominance with the Euromaiden movement that began in November 2013 in Kyiv’s Independence Square with a three-month long peaceful demonstration that ended in a bloody confrontation with police, security forces known as Berkut, and paid thugs called Titushky that cost 125 lives, mainly of unarmed protesters, in less than 48 hours.

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THE WHITE FORTRESS – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

“This feels weird, like we’re characters in some fairy tale,” says Mona. “It’s more like the beginning of a horror movie,” Faruk counters. The thing is that Mona and Faruk, the central characters in director/screenwriter Igor Drljača’s story of fleeting love among the ruined, are both correct.

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PETITE MAMAN – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

It is sheer genius for director Celine Sciamma, who also wrote the screenplay, to level the playing field by bringing mother and daughter together as peers to talk about the things that really matter to them—young Marion’s fear of an operation she is to undergo in three days’ time and Nelly’s worry that she is the cause of her mother’s melancholy (young Marion reassures her as only the honesty of a child can that “you didn’t invent my sadness.”) Nelly, who confesses to her older mother that she wishes she had given her grandmother a proper good-bye, gets a chance at a do-over, albeit with a younger version.

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SPOTLIGHT April 2022: Maya Cade, Journalist and Curator

Maya Cade is an accomplished, articulate communicator whose invaluable resource and audience development work broaden our understanding of the Black experience and film culture. Her Black Film Archive not only reveals white representations of Blackness, but also how the Black community has seen itself in feature films, shorts, documentaries, and other media. We believe this greater understanding will result in more nuanced, informed films that can help hasten the cause of equality for all people.

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I’VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing is very sweet and very funny. Patricia Rozema, who wrote the screenplay and directed, pokes at the pretensions of the 1980s art establishment. A highlight: Gallery owner Gabrielle and a museum curator go through her gallery commenting in the most abstract language on the work of an up-and-coming painter—a skewering vision of people talking themselves into assigning values to a static image when an emotional response is called for.

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PHANTOM LOVE – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Phantom Love weds director Nina Menkes’ intrapsychic world with the formal innovations pioneered by surrealist artists and filmmakers of the first part of the 20th century, particularly the films of Luis Buñuel. Like Buñuel. Menkes populates her film with a variety of animals—an ant, bees, an octopus, some tetras, two Great Danes, a cat—but not in the absurd ways employed by the Spanish-Mexican director. Rather, Menkes has said that the images came to her while working with a psychic healer, and her familiarity with Jungian psychotherapy helped her accept and integrate the irrational elements of her unconscious into a film that reaches beyond mere character development.

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THE WILLMAR 8 – Retroview by Marilyn Ferdinand

The first and perhaps most impactful documentary that filmmaker Lee Grant made is The Willmar 8 (1981). Now little more than a vague memory or a footnote in labor history, the strike of eight women in the small town of Willmar, Minnesota, against Citizens National Bank for sex discrimination was a watershed moment in U.S. labor relations that led to a widespread investigation of unfair labor practices in the banking industry.

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Suzanne Bauman (1945-2022): A Life in Film – Profile by Marilyn Ferdinand

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists mourns the passing of Suzanne Bauman, a producer, director, and writer of more than 80 documentary and feature films, as well as a teacher of documentary filmmaking. Bauman succumbed to cancer on January 2, 2022, surrounded by family in her home in Wrightwood, California.

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BETTY: THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT – Retroview by Marilyn Ferdinand

On February 9, 2022, pioneering funk singer/songwriter Betty Davis died at the age of 77. During her heyday in the early through the mid 1970s, Davis shattered the image of respectability the African American community embraced following the civil rights era with her sexually charged songs and image. Barred from radio stations due to protests from religious groups and the NAACP, Davis’ records did poorly. Pushed by record producers to change her style, Davis turned her back on the industry and, in a word, disappeared.

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