MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 25, 2020: LINGUA FRANCA

In telling the story of undocumented transgender Filipina caregiver Olivia, writer/director/actress Isabel Sandoval’s quietly powerful drama Lingua Franca calls attention to an issue that too many people find easy to dismiss as not their concern. And it does so with empathy and humanity, hopefully opening hearts and minds before the credits roll.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 21, 2020: AFRICAN VIOLET

Both poignant and insightful, Mona Zandi Haqiqi’s African Violet is a slice-of-life drama set in a working class neighborhood in Tehran. With strong, naturalistic performances and a vivid sense of place, Haqiqi’s film draws you into its characters’ lives, sharing their triumphs and challenges and creating understanding and building strong feelings of empathy.

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Miranda de Pencier on THE GRIZZLIES, Authenticity and Women in Film – Jennifer Merin interviews

The Grizzlies is based on the inspiring true story of a group of students in a small, struggling Arctic town and centers around the experiences of a recently graduated White teacher, Russ, working his first job as a high school history teacher in the isolated Inuit town of Kuluktuk, where the hardships of life far exceed its joys. In this inspiring tale, Russ and the students are transformed by the power of sport and hope. Canadian filmmaker Miranda de Pencier is an award-winning actress, producer and director. The Grizzlies, which premiered at TIFF and won the DGC Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, is her feature film directorial debut.

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AFRICAN VIOLET – Review by Jennifer Merin

African Violet, a winsome femme-helmed domestic drama Iran that reveals an intimate view of family life from a woman’s perspective. Exquisitely envisioned to convey complex relationships with subtle looks rather than words, the film’s fundamental kindness is revelatory and utterly compelling.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 14, 2020: THE GRIZZLIES

The Grizzlies, based on a true story, is about a fired-up white outsider coming into a close-knit Indigenous community full of confidence that, with his passion and approachability, he can connect with the skeptical teens he’s there to teach and make a difference. And, to be fair, he does exactly that. But not before he’s forced to learn some hard truths about the folly of thinking you can “fix” another culture — or understand people who’ve been traumatized for generations by colonialism if you haven’t been through it yourself.

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Sharon McGowan & Jan Miller: Canadian Tax Credit Changes to Benefit Female Filmworkers (Guest Post)

The tax credit program distributes close to one billion dollars annually to Canadian and foreign-service production but does not include policies to address gender equity or inclusion of workers marginalized in the screen industry. The Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage has agreed to address and rectify the issue.

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THE GRIZZLIES – Review by Jennifer Merin

Canadian filmmaker Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, a truth-based sports narrative set in the Canadian arctic, is a story centered around the experiences of a recently graduated White teacher, Russ, working his first job as a high school history teacher in the isolated Inuit town of Kuluktuk, where the hardships of life far exceed its joys.

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SHAKUNTALA DEVI – Review by Mythily Ramachandran (Guest Post)

Shakuntala Devi is a spirited tale of India’s mathematical genius. Vidya Balan completely owns the titular role while bringing alive this rags to riches story in director Anu Menon’s film. Independent and daring Devi lived life on her terms with a never say die attitude. Narrated through the eyes of her daughter, the film takes us on a journey that begins in Bangalore in 1934 where the little Shakuntala astounds her cousin with her mathematics acumen.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 7, 2020: A THOUSAND CUTS

So timely that it includes scenes filmed just a few weeks ago that show people wearing masks against the coronavirus, Ramona S. Diaz’s documentary A Thousand Cuts is a passionate call to arms. Centered on persistent, feisty Filipina journalist Maria Ressa and her fearless pursuit of the truth behind the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal, extrajudicial war on drugs, it will resonate with anyone who cares about preventing authoritarian attacks on the freedom of the press.

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HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Kevin Rafferty, filmmaker and Harvard grad, uses archival footage and interviews with team members to ‘replay’ the legendary football game in which the undefeated teams of Harvard and Yale battled it out for the 1968 season’s final victory. The film’s title, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, may give away the results, but the football plays, commentaries and remembrances presented in this sports documentary are gripping–even if you’re not a football fan.

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