THE ETRUSCAN SMILE – Review by Roxana Hadadi

Some lessons about life never change: do what you love, surrounded by people you love, before it’s too late. That’s a simple but reassuring series of messages that are the through line for the sometimes satisfying but fundamentally patronizing The Etruscan Smile, director Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis’s adaptation of the bestselling 1985 novel La Sonrisa Etrusca.

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THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE – Review by Roxana Hadadi

The Great Alaskan Race is a commendable passion project from filmmaker Brian Presley, a film dedicated to the “unsung heroes” who helped save the Alaskan city of Nome from a diphtheria outbreak in the early 20th century. The mushers and dog teams that transported diphtheria vaccine 700 miles from Anchorage to Nome are given the hero treatment here, and they certainly deserve praise—but this movie is so superficially constructed that it’s impossible to feel empathy for the characters.

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COYOTE LAKE – Review by Roxana Hadadi

The thriller Coyote Lake takes the conceptual frame of vigilante justice and places it over a mother-daughter story about familial control and abuse, a combination that nudges at themes of religious obsession and misandry. The result is a tense experiment that considers the extremes of revenge but that overall doesn’t stray too much from a recognizable depiction of maternal manipulation.

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THE CHAMBERMAID – Review by Roxana Hadadi

High above Mexico City, more than 20 floors above the ground, Eve (Gabriela Cartol) works with her whole body. She dashes across hotel rooms, leaning over to pick up trash. She perches in the bathroom, scrubbing away. She smooths sheets and blankets with her entire upper half, making a 90-degree angle with the bed. Her responsibilities are highly regimented and take an immense physical toll, but you wouldn’t know that from her polite small talk or her demure “Excuse me” when she leaves a room. Eve has been trained to serve and to be ignored.

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WILD ROSE – Review by Roxana Hadadi

At what point do you give up on a dream? Films about aspiring musicians almost universally consider this question, mostly from a male point of view. Movies about the female experience either skew juvenile or are thoroughly mocked, and it’s arguable whether the latest extremely successful version of A Star is Born provided enough autonomy to the character played by Lady Gaga. Into this landscape arrives Wild Rose, a movie that follows a recognizable narrative flow but features a strong performance from Jessie Buckley as a Scottish woman struggling to break into a musical genre that isn’t her country’s own.

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THE THIRD WIFE – Review by Roxana Hadadi

Filmmaker Ash Mayfair’s full-length directorial debut The Third Wife plays out like a tone poem, a portrait of female identity, sexuality, and responsibility in 19th century rural Vietnam. The bamboo groves and floating lotus flowers are lush, the familial relationships between husbands, wives, and children are multifaceted, and there is a simultaneous sense of sensuality and tragedy throughout The Third Wife. A moment of happiness could easily transform into a moment of despair.

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LITTLE WOODS – Review by Roxana Hadadi

The Western genre has experienced a modern resurgence over the past few years with narratives that pull focus away from the genre’s hypermasculine origins and toward stories that are more individualistic, more character-driven. in Little Woods, Nia DaCosta, Tessa Thompson, and Lily James have created something tense, timely and empathetic, expanding the Western genre and adding another slice of American life to it.

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Didar Domehri Talks GIRLS OF THE SUN and Women’s Resilience – Roxana Hadadi interviews

Before the release of Girls of the Sun, Roxana Hadadi spoke to producer Didar Domehri (who in 2009 created her own production company Maneki Films, which produced the film) about her and Husson’s vision, how Iranian-French actress Golshifteh Farahani became attached to the project, and the film’s portrait of female resilience and unity in the face of overwhelming cruelty and hardship.

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