A LITTLE MORE FLESH II – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

I am not the only woman film critic – indeed, not the only woman – who flinches when those seemingly unavoidable cloying, clingy self-identifying Male Feminists™ start brandishing their liberated gender political credentials at you like they are applying for a job. A Little More Flesh II is a scathing, searing and unrestrained examination of men in the film industry by men in the film industry about what monumental creeps they can be.

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MY DOG IS SICK – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

If more filmmakers had even a skerrick of the courage and creativity of director Sapna Bhavnani, the cultural landscape – not just in India, but beyond – would be all the richer for it. My Dog is Sick will not be for everyone and is to be celebrated for it. This is its strength. These are the voices that need amplification; the ones that shock us, the ones that move us, the ones that confuse us, and the ones that dazzle us.

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KAALI KHUHI – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Kaali Khuhi is a horror delight for those willing to open their mind to genre entries that fall outside typical Western fare. Starring an impressive Riva Arora as Shivangi, she is a young child at the heart of the film’s drama and its unlikely heroine. The film begins as her grandmother falls ill, her distraught father taking Shivangi and her unimpressed mother to the small village where the old woman lies ill. Almost instantly, through her newfound best friend Shivangi discovers that the village is riddled with dark secrets, all of which lead to a mysterious, spooky room on the top floor of her grandmother’s home, marked by the presence of the ghostly, ghastly spectre of a girl around her own age marked by a signature red dress.

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BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

While perhaps a footnote to the broader Max Headroom success story, the still-chilling signal hijacking in Chicago in 1987 where a Headroom look-alike took over two Chicago television stations remains one of the most notorious instances of video piracy of all time. These videos can be found on YouTube and still have a genuinely eerie quality to them, heightened only further by the fact that those responsible for the act were never identified.

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AT NIGHT COMES WOLVES – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Writer/director Tj Marine’s low-budget At Night Comes Wolves is a fascinating addition to what here should perhaps be recognized more formally as a subgenre of sorts, combining male domestic violence against women – here, primarily psychological and sexual – in a fascinating and quite ambitious way with the misogyny that drives religious or spiritual cults and cult-think.

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COLD WIND BLOWING – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

2020 was a cruel year for film’s planning to release during the pandemic, and even crueler for low-budget indies that had just started what is an already challenging journey in gaining visibility in a market where the bigger named and bigger funded projects will always be a default setting for the limelight. Dionne Copland’s Cold Wind Blowing is a case in point; initially getting positive response from one of the biggest indie fests in the US, the unparalleled shake up the film industry faced in 2020 saw this film almost fall off the radar.

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THE SPINE OF NIGHT (SXSW 21) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The Spine of Night is an animated feature film, but this is no children’s movie, not by any stretch. Aside from the violence, blood and gore, there’s also genitalia akimbo; boobs, balls and everything in between rendered in lovingly graphic detail in vibrant, intricate color.

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THE DROVER’S WIFE: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON (SXSW 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

It might be hard to watch The Drover’s Wife and resist the temptation to draw parallels with Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Like The Nightingale, the film pivots around the relationship between a man and a woman from very different cultural and social positions based largely on their perceived race. Gendered violence and a revenge also feature heavily, but The Drover’s Wife deviates from The Nightingale significantly if only due to their very different histories, both in terms of their productions and their broader cultural legacies.

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I AM LISA – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

I Am Lisa is a fun, retro-vibing revenge-horror hybrid, the werewolf elements sitting in nice harmony with the more orthodox revenge elements. And yet what on the surface is a solid, low-budget popcorn movie does raise curious questions about the assumptions we make about gender and power in revenge films featuring women protagonists, particularly when sexual violence enters the equation. These more complex questions you can take or leave, but regardless, what is left is still a satisfying tale of full moons and getting even.

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Women at Berlinale 2021 Wrap Up – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Released at the end of the festival, the “Gender Evaluation 2021” report is a revealing document, which both highlights the progress being made when it comes to gender and equity at the Festival, while also acknowledging there is still clearly some way to go yet. While it includes the frank observation that “in all of the examined professions and disciplines, the most common team composition is wholly or predominantly male”, the report also gets into the fine statistical nitty gritty of what this breaks down to not only when it comes to directing, but to other areas such as cinematography, screenwriting, editing and producing.

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