CANNES REMAKES: The Fast Fashion of Film? – Jennifer Green comments

Cannes kicks off its inaugural one-day movie remakes market on Monday, with the intention of meeting media streamers’ ever-increasing demand for quick and disposable content. What seems like a juicy business opportunity for local talents also feels somewhat like cultural decimation, especially in this globalized day and age when massive numbers of consumers are used to carelessly discarding whatever trending fashion claims the moment. Why not revisit the originals, many of which are classics? Are remakes the fast fashion of film?

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HOT DOCS 2024: Feminist Wrap – Emma Badame reports

Of this year’s slate of 168 films, 54% of them featured women behind the camera. Many focussed in on lived experiences of those they admire (Helen and the Bear) or intriguing names both big and small (A Photographic Memory); others shone the spotlight on the oppressed or inspired (Nice Ladies), LGBTQ+ trailblazers (Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story), the people fighting for justice (The Sharp End of Peace) or just a better world (Once Upon a Time in a Forest), or just the consistently curious (Synchrony). As it does every year, the festival wrapped with the announcement of this year’s cohort of award winners. 15 prizes were handed out in recognition of outstanding Canadian and International contribution to the documentary field, nine of which went to female filmmakers

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ANY OTHER WAY: THE JACKIE SHANE STORY (Hot Docs 2024) – Review by Liz Braun

Forty years of living as a recluse nearly erased her legacy, but a new film about Jackie Shane should ensure that the legendary R&B singer is properly remembered. Shane, a transgender performer decades before gender identity was part of the lexicon, was born in Nashville and moved to Canada in 1959 — entering the country for a gig and never leaving. Shane eventually settled in Toronto and had a big presence in the club scene there. And she had a Top 40 hit in the 1960s: Any Other Way. In 1971, Shane vanished from the music scene. What became of this brave and talented performer is one of the mysteries solved in Any Other Way: The Jackie Shane Story..

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FAMILY TREE (Hot Docs 2024) – Review by Liz Braun

This is a gentle, engaging and instructive film about preserving land, preserving family and preserving ownership. Director Jennifer MacArthur pulls a viewer right into the heart of two African-American families and their day to day concerns as stewards of large tracts of forested land. Keeping their land properly is a huge undertaking with huge ramifications: forested land is key to the environment, removing carbon from the atmosphere and slowing the greenhouse effect and climate change.

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THE SHARP EDGE OF PEACE (Hot Docs 2024) – Review by Liz Braun

The Sharp Edge of Peace is an infuriating documentary about Afghanistan. The film concerns the attempts made by women leaders and others to restore women’s rights in Afghanistan via negotiations with the Taliban. It opens with footage of peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi in hospital, as she has just survived an assassination attempt. Koofi is one of four women chosen to be part of the Afghan government’s negotiating team as the country attempts to recover its footing after the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops, and the rise of the Taliban.

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St. Louis Jewish Film Fest 2024 – Diane Carson reports

Fulfilling their mission to showcase “national and international cinema that explores universal issues through traditional Jewish values, opposing viewpoints and new perspectives,” the ten feature films and an opening night program of shorts educate and entertain in diverse ways. First, Sunday, April 7, five student filmmakers enrolled at Sapir College in Sderot, Israel countered Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack and massacre through films reflecting their and Israel’s responses. In diverse and powerful ways, each captures life’s changes at times of crisis when Sapir College had to suspend all activities amidst evacuation orders.

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WonderCon: Women Rocking Hollywood Panel – Jennifer Merin reports

AWFJ member and senior contributor Leslie Combemale recently brought her 10th Women Rocking Hollywood panel to WonderCon in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 30th, just in time to celebrate Women’s History Month. Hundreds of convention attendees who are fans of cinema and women in film were present to hear this year’s cohort of female filmmakers discuss their careers and latest projects. The panel included Anna Halberg, Amy Greene, Anna Biller, Erica Tremblay, and Andria Wilson Mirza, with Leslie Combemale moderating. Leslie is premiering the video from the panel here on AWFJ.org. Read on to learn more about each panelist and their contributions to the conversation. There is a link to the video of the panel at the end of this overview.

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THE IN BETWEEN (SXSW2024) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The bridge spanning the Rio Grande connecting Eagle Pass, Texas, and Mexico was “a magical portal” for filmmaker Robie Flores as a child. It’s also a metaphor for the ambiguity of grief and straddling worlds as a teen in Tejano culture with relatives in Piedras Negras, Mexico, in her feature documentary debut, The In Between.

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WE STRANGERS (SXSW2024) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

A White woman peers through the windows of an elegant modern home. A Black woman opens the door. “Um, hi. I haven’t seen you here before,” the White woman says. The audacity of the implied question is one microaggression that Ray, the Black woman in this interaction, faces in We Strangers. Debuting at the 2024 SXSW Film Festival, this empathetic drama full of wry humor puts viewers in Ray’s shoes as she navigates racism and classism while trying to use things she learns to her advantage.

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Katie Mathews on ROLEPLAY (SXSW2024)

Katie Mathew: I’m certainly not an expert in the history of sexual education in America but I wonder if we haven’t ever escaped our Puritan roots in the colonization of this country. Sex is still somehow taboo. With the continuously disappearing line between State and (Conservative Christian) Church, sex for pleasure (or a non-cis-straight-white man’s right to desire and enjoy sex) is demonized. Unfortunately curiosity and hunger for knowledge doesn’t disappear when suppressed. Young people are receiving misinformation or misogynistic information about sex from the internet, peers, and certain types of porn. Awareness, dialogue, and education is KEY to healthier and safer sexual relationships.

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