MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 15, 2019: ATLANTICS

Dreamy and full of unexpected twists, Mati Diop’s narrative debut Atlantics — Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival — is simultaneously a tender tale of star-crossed lovers, an eerie ghost story, and a gritty procedural. That unusual combination keeps it surprising and engaging throughout and underlines writer/director Diop’s notable talent.

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Whistler Film Festival: 2019 EDA Award Nominees and AWFJ Juries – Jennifer Merin reports

For the seventh consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has had the honor to partner with Whistler Film Festival to recognize women filmmakers with presentation of EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Feature Film and Best Female-Directed Short at the 2019 festival, held in Whistler from December 4 to 8, 2019.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 8, 2019 – HONEY BOY

Part coming-of-age drama, part father-son story, and part therapy, “Honey Boy” is a compelling take on actor Shia LaBeouf’s troubled childhood and controversial behavior as a Hollywood star. Working from LaBeouf’s own script, director Alma Har’el builds sympathy for both LaBeouf and his father without excusing either for their actions.

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Martin Scorsese on THE IRISHMAN, Crime and Corruption in His Cinema – Jennifer Merin interviews

Martin Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, releasing November 1 in theaters and available on Netflix on November 27, is the director’s eighth foray into the world of crime and corruption. Perhaps because The Irishman’s truth-based narrative is about relatively recent events that actually changed the course of history, the engrossingly complex, superbly structured and thoroughly gripping crime thriller serves not only as an intense decades-spanning character study, but also as a provocative sociopolitical primer. In our present era’s predicament about finding truth in media, this is a history-making film about historical events. Read what Scorsese has to say about truth in narrative.

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Louisiana Film Prize: Jaya McSharma on the Making and Meaning of BEST IN SHOW – Jennifer Merin interviews

Jaya McSharma wrote, produced, co-directed and starred in Best in Show, one of 20 short films selected to compete in the 2019 Louisiana Film Prize, a unique film festival that awards a cash prize of $50,000 for the film deemed best by audience members and by film industry professionals. The dramady, a searing satire of the fashion industry, follows an unconventional fashion show model whose appearance is deemed no longer fit for the runway. Her rebellion is an inspiration to all who reject the torture of trying to stick to superficial standards of size, shape and beauty.

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63 UP – Review by Jennifer Merin

For those who’ve followed filmmaker Michael Apted’s entire UP Series, it’s a treat to catch up with the subjects’ latest developments in 63 UP, the eighth and likely final episode in the UP Series, Apted refers to the series as an exploration of the British class system, and asks all of his subjects whether they think the original premise for the series — “give me a child at the age of seven and I’ll show you the man” — is true. The now familiar participating women and men give responses that are varied, authentic and provocative.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 1, 2019: PARADISE HILLS

Alice Waddington’s lush, imaginative directorial debut builds such a convincing dystopian world that you’d be forgiven for assuming it must be based on some intricate, “Hunger Games”-like series of YA novels. But Brian DeLeeuw and Nacho Vigalondo’s tale of privileged young women at a very unusual “finishing school” called Paradise Hills is a true original.

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LOUISIANA FILM PRIZE: Filmmaker Camille Schmoutz on the Making and Meaning of ST ESTHER DAY – Jennifer Merin interviews

Camille Schmoutz’s St Esther Day is an elaborate period drama about the clash of socioeconomic classes in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century. St Esther Day is an excellent example of how much story can be told, how much atmosphere can be evoked and how much social relevance can be conveyed in a short film. Produced in Shreveport specifically for submission for the 2019 Louisiana Film Prize’s $50,000 award, the film took advantage of the city’s unique locations and ambiance.

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LOUISIANA FILM PRIZE: Filmmaker Makenzie Smith on the Making and Meaning of CICERO – Jennifer Merin interviews

Makenzie Smith’s film, Cicero, was in competition for the $50,000 cash award bestowed by the annual Louisiana Film Prize upon one winner. This year, more than 120 short films were submitted for the competition, with twenty selected to be screened at the festival, held from October 2 to 5 in Shreveport, to vie for the big money. Written by Smith who co-directed with Finch Nissen, Cicero was shot in Shreveport, per Film Prize submission requirements. The plot involves the tense and unexpected face off between two men — a hit man and his targeted victim — who find themselves confined together in a stuck elevator.

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Critics Choice Documentary Awards Nominees Announced – Jennifer Merin reports

The Critics Choice Association will once again be honoring the finest achievements in documentaries released in theaters, on TV and on major digital platforms, as determined by the voting of qualified CCA members (Full disclosure: I am a CCA member, along with 21 other AWFJ members) . THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM leads this year with seven nominations, including Best Documentary Feature, John Chester for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Narration, and Best Science/Nature Documentary.

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