MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 19, 2019: Claudia Myers’ ABOVE THE SHADOWS

Just about everyone ends up feeling invisible at some point during their teen years — but what if you actually disappeared? That’s what happens to Holly in writer/director Claudia Myers Above the Shadows, a drama/fantasy that serves as an allegory for what it’s like to be marginalized out of your very existence.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Lynn Shelton’s SWORD OF TRUST

Opportunity makes strange — but ultimately well-suited — bedfellows in Lynn Shelton’s quirky dramedy Sword of Trust. Centered on an antique weapon that may (or may not) have played an unexpectedly important role in American history, it digs into the denial and hate that are tied into so much of the divisiveness that’s currently plaguing our country. All with an absurdist tone, naturally.

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THE END OF DEMOCRACY: Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Released in 2008, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundburg’s compelling documentary is a still timely analysis and report about the ten step blueprint to establishing a dictatorship that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms. The film compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States in recent years.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 28, 2019: Claire McCarthy’s OPHELIA

Much analyzed and, according to many, much misunderstood, Ophelia has always been one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic characters. With Ophelia, director Claire McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Chellas aim to demystify Hamlet’s lady love, turning her into a smart, fully fleshed-out woman with spirit and agency.

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SPOTLIGHT July 2019: Andrea Arnold, Feminist Film Director, BIG LITTLE LIES

Andrea Arnold’s career shows what a woman filmmaker’s ‘can do spirit’ can do. The career path she’s created for herself has brought her from the difficult circumstances of a child raised in a single parent home in the environs of a working class ‘estate’ in suburban London to the coveted and exalted position of series director for a highly acclaimed and high ranking television series. Along the way, she’s won an Oscar and become an OBE, and accrued numerous other awards and honors for her femme-centric films. Arnold’s filmography is stunning in its inventiveness and variety, but it is her exceptional leadership as director of HBO’S Big Little Lies Season Two, which began airing in June that puts her in AWFJ’s July SPOTLIGHT.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 28, 2019: MAIDEN

As tense and exciting as anything scripted in Hollywood, Alex Holmes’ documentary Maiden is all the more remarkable for being a true story. It takes viewers back to 1989, when Tracy Edwards, then 24, became the first skipper of an all-female sailing crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race. Facing both the elements and skepticism from the establishment, Edwards and her team defied expectations — and scored a victory for feminism in the process.

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OFFICIAL SECRETS – Review by Jennifer Merin

If you like spy scenarios and courtroom dramas, and are interested in sorting out truthful reporting from fake news, Official Secrets, a truth-based narrative about English security whistleblower Katherine Gun, will surely satisfy. It’s entertaining and informative, and its release is quite timely.

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IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY FROM THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT – Review by Jennifer Merin

In presenting the story of Daniel McGowan, the former Earth Liberation Front (ELF) environmental activist who’s been sentenced to life imprisonment for environmental terrorism or, more specifically, for arson committed against northwest US lumber companies and national parks, filmmakers Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman raise questions and stir public debate about the definition of terrorism, especially in the post-9/11 security environment. The documentary, released in 2011, is newly available on OVID.tv.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 21, 2019: LATE NIGHT

Cross The Devil Wears Prada with 30 Rock, and you might get something like Late Night, director Nisha Ganatra’s timely comedy about a starry-eyed young comedy writer named Molly (Mindy Kaling) who gets the chance of a lifetime when she’s hired to work for iconic late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson). Written by Kaling, the movie mixes behind-the-scenes showbiz humor with smart observations about what it’s really like for women to break down barriers.

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THREE PEAKS – Review by Jennifer Merin

German director Jan Zabeil’s beautifully crafted sophomore narrative feature, Three Peaks, is a truly disturbing film. It’s a horror story without gimmicks, ghosts, ghouls or goblins. There is no paranormality. In fact, the story revolves around a very normal modern threesome — two adults and a child — who take a family vacation in a relatively isolated cabin in a beautiful and pristine mountain setting.

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