WOMEN MAKE HISTORICAL ADVANCES IN THE 2021 OSCAR RACE – Susan Granger reports

History was made when the Oscar nominations were released for the Best Director category. Only five women have ever been nominated before. This year, Chloe Zhao was chosen for her elegiac road-trip drama “Nomadland,” along with first-time feature-filmmaker Emerald Fennel for her #MeToo revenge comedy “Promising Young Woman.” Chloe Zhao, the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, is the most nominated woman in a single year in Oscar history, since she’s also competing as Best Picture producer, along with Adapted Screenplay and Editing. That’s a record-breaking four nominations in a single year.

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EXAMINING OSCAR’S BELOW-THE-LINE NOMINEES – Susan Granger reports

Without doubt, movies are the most collaborative artistic medium, and streaming has made this year’s contenders more available than ever before. Some of the most memorable artisan aspects of filmmaking are Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design and Sound, all contributing to the ultimate success of a film. Directors of Photography honored by the Cinematography branch are Sean Bobbitt (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”), Dariusz Wolski (“News of the World”) Joshua James Richards (“Nomadland”) and Phedon Papamichael (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).

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Intersectionality at SXSW 2021 – Leslie Combemale reports

This year at SXSW there are a number of powerful female filmmakers of color who are shining a light on important social issues both through narrative and documentary films, employing women of color in front of and behind the camera. They are an inspiration not only for their commitment to diverse voices, but also for creating great content worthy of our attention. Here are some of the best offerings at the fest you can see right now.

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GROOMED – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

To look at Gwen van de Pas’ enviable life as a business consultant based in San Francisco who has a successful, supportive boyfriend and a loving family in The Netherlands, you’d think she hadn’t a care in the world. She thought so, too, until she started thinking about having children and began having frightening dreams about following a man across a swimming pool deck and into a private shower where blood starts appearing everywhere.

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SILENCE OF THE LAMBS at 30: Giving Clarice a Voice – Valerie Kalfrin comments

Silence of the Lambs is a curious film. The first horror film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture and the rare one to sweep four of the Oscars’ top categories, it has suspense and atmosphere that still enthrall even after 30 years. It also has rich characters, like FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who finds her courage tested yet navigates a world that seems stacked against her. The problem is, the movie is stacked against her, too.

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PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN: Susan Jacob’s Female Power Soundtrack – Rachel West comments

Emerald Fennell’s bold Promising Young Woman isn’t just a triumph for star Carey Mulligan, it’s a soundtrack showcase for female-driven power-pop. Spanning the gamut of Mulligan’s Cassie’s emotions, the Promising Young Woman soundtrack is equal parts dark, edgy female rage and catchy, lighthearted pop. Throughout the film, music supervisor Susan Jacobs allows Cassie’s state of mind to manifest in the music from the movie’s first few minutes until its ultimate conclusion.

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An AWFJ Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Not all cinema superheroines wear capes. In fact, one leader in the league of heroic women whose accomplishments are celebrated in cinema was the wearer of black robes and white lace collars, and she has been as much of a superheroine in real life as she has been on the screen. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18 at age 87, championed women’s rights for her entire career and leaves a legacy of progressive positive change in the United States. Her ethos and accomplishments have been celebrated in film.

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20 Femme-Helmers in the 2020 Oscars Pipeline – Susan Wloszczyna reports

One upside to this topsy-turvy season is the release of superb femme-centric, femme-helmed titles that are solid Oscars contenders that could easily make the Best Picture and Best Director cut. There are at least five actresses making their directing debuts, a pop star going behind the camera, old-school directors, new-school directors, blockbuster overseers and at least two former competitors in the category. Here is what might be the best of an encouragingly large batch.

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The New MULAN’s Critical Chi – Nell Minow comments

Nothing is simple and straightforward and uncontroversial in 2020, not even a live-action remake of a popular Disney animated film. Whether intended to or not, the new Mulan has achieved one of the essential goals of any work of art in provoking thoughtful conversations that transcend but are illuminated by the story we see on whatever screen we see it on.

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Meet the Makers: Stanley Nelson and A’Lelia Bundles on TWO CENTS AND A DREAM – Kathia Woods reports

World Channel held a screening of Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C.J. Walker. It is a documentary on the life of Madame C. J Walker by Stanley Nelson. A conversation with filmmaker Stanley Nelson and author A’leia Bundles was held before the screening.

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