Midnight Madness Gender Parity at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

The 2020 Midnight Madness program is notable for reaching parity through an emphasis on both quantity and quality, making claims of tokenism effectively impossible. While the ethical debates around programming and equity in terms of gender and other points of difference are complex, to achieve gender parity in a program of top shelf films where 50% of the filmmakers are women and 50% are people of color is no small deal.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2020: Heidi Honeycutt, Film Programmer, Producer, Champion for Women in Horror

Heidi Honeycutt is a prolific a talent who is thoroughly dedicated to the mission of bringing women-directed genre films to a wider audience. As film programmer, critic, author, producer, actor, mentor and proud fan, Honeycutt’s devotion to women in the far-too-often male-centric terrain of genre cinema and the recent release of the Etheria series make her a stand-out choice for our September SPOTLIGHT.

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Women’s Filmmaking Highlights at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Big screen or small screen, on-site or watching streaming from home, while many elements of TIFF 2020 will be a new experience, the seemingly conscious emphasis on women’s filmmaking from around the world thankfully remains intact. Unlike a number of other high-profile festivals that have yet to adequately read the room, TIFF again avoids the mistake of assuming women in front of the camera will make up for not programming films where they prominently feature behind it in key creative roles.

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KALA AZAR (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Filmmaker Janis Rafa’s intuitive sense for the temporal beats of seeming nothingness, eye for the textural density of the moving image as a canvas-in-motion, and unrelenting faith in sensory experience over complex narrative or characterization make this striking movie further explode the boundaries of that amorphous beast, the Greek Weird Wave.

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ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

To call Australian filmmaker Monica Zanetti’s Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) a delight is an understatement. It’s a wholly charming if not at-first seemingly pedestrian coming-of-age queer love story between high school girls in Sydney, but when Ellie’s eponymous “dead aunt” Tara enters the picture, this seemingly light-hearted romantic romp finds its depths.

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ANNE AT 13,0000 FT (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Anne at 13,000 Ft is about learning how to fly. Or at least, trying to learn how to fly. The film opens with its eponymous Anne – played in a career-making performance by Deragh Campbell – skydiving at her best friend Sarah’s bachelorette party.

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LA LLORONA (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

La Llorona is less a typical horror film than it is a powerful political drama that employs horror codes, conventions and iconography – and a specific folkloric figure – to speak to a historical atrocity so great in scale as to almost be otherwise incomprehensible. In the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.

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ROSE PLAYS JULIE (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Rose Plays Julie is not shy in its approach to the thematic intersection of power, gender difference and violence and how they feed into the lived experience of women in particular. But it approaches its subject matter with a sophisticated balance of sensitivity and frankness that make these themes both poignant and, at times, far from subtle.

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JUST 6.5 (MIFF 2020)- Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Fast, smart and thrilling, Just 6.5 is a wild ride into the dark side of Iranian genre cinema. With a climax that demands we rethink the entire ethical construct of how the judicial system treats drug related offenses, Just 6.5 sees Saeed Roustayi excel with his sophomore feature.

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