VIOLATION (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The depth of intelligence, sensitivity, ethical clarity and good old fashioned moxie that filmmakers Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli employ here is quite unlike anything I have ever seen before. Violation is the best film of the year, and demands we rethink questions of consent, virtue, subjectivity and the fantasy of justice to a degree that we are very rarely encouraged to.

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Midnight Madness Gender Parity at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

The 2020 Midnight Madness program is notable for reaching parity through an emphasis on both quantity and quality, making claims of tokenism effectively impossible. While the ethical debates around programming and equity in terms of gender and other points of difference are complex, to achieve gender parity in a program of top shelf films where 50% of the filmmakers are women and 50% are people of color is no small deal.

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Women’s Filmmaking Highlights at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Big screen or small screen, on-site or watching streaming from home, while many elements of TIFF 2020 will be a new experience, the seemingly conscious emphasis on women’s filmmaking from around the world thankfully remains intact. Unlike a number of other high-profile festivals that have yet to adequately read the room, TIFF again avoids the mistake of assuming women in front of the camera will make up for not programming films where they prominently feature behind it in key creative roles.

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ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

To call Australian filmmaker Monica Zanetti’s Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) a delight is an understatement. It’s a wholly charming if not at-first seemingly pedestrian coming-of-age queer love story between high school girls in Sydney, but when Ellie’s eponymous “dead aunt” Tara enters the picture, this seemingly light-hearted romantic romp finds its depths.

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ANNE AT 13,0000 FT (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Anne at 13,000 Ft is about learning how to fly. Or at least, trying to learn how to fly. The film opens with its eponymous Anne – played in a career-making performance by Deragh Campbell – skydiving at her best friend Sarah’s bachelorette party.

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LA LLORONA (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

La Llorona is less a typical horror film than it is a powerful political drama that employs horror codes, conventions and iconography – and a specific folkloric figure – to speak to a historical atrocity so great in scale as to almost be otherwise incomprehensible. In the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.

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ROSE PLAYS JULIE (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Rose Plays Julie is not shy in its approach to the thematic intersection of power, gender difference and violence and how they feed into the lived experience of women in particular. But it approaches its subject matter with a sophisticated balance of sensitivity and frankness that make these themes both poignant and, at times, far from subtle.

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JUST 6.5 (MIFF 2020)- Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Fast, smart and thrilling, Just 6.5 is a wild ride into the dark side of Iranian genre cinema. With a climax that demands we rethink the entire ethical construct of how the judicial system treats drug related offenses, Just 6.5 sees Saeed Roustayi excel with his sophomore feature.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: rePRO by mama.film Film Fest explores reproductive healthcare and more — Brandy McDonnell reports

rePRO by mama.film, a new five-day virtual film festival dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America, has announced its lineup for the inaugural festival, which will take place online from Aug. 12-16.

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Women at Melbourne International Film Festival – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

As the film festival world increasingly shifts to the domestic small screen as the most responsible way forward in the face of COVID-19, Melbourne International Film Festival has tackled the challenge head on. While still featuring an impressive 112 films – including 12 world premieres, 83 Australian premieres and 44 short films – MIFF has shifted its exhibition model by releasing the 2020 program not as the festival’s 69th edition, but under the more humble banner of MIFF 68½.

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