SPOTLIGHT June, 2024: ANDRIA WILSON MIRZA, Producer, Gender Equity Activist, Head of ReFrame and the ReFrame Stamp

Reaching parity for female filmmakers and women above and below the line, as well as working to raise the number of trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming individuals in Hollywood and around the world is one of the most challenging jobs in the film industry. It’s also a formula for a better world. Seeing ourselves onscreen, having men see us onscreen, impacts our acceptance not only in film but all aspects of society. As an intersectional filmmaker herself, and former executive director of Inside Out, Canada’s largest LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Andria is the perfect subject to spotlight for June. Thank you Andria, for all you do!

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SPOTLIGHT May, 2024: ADELE LIM, Cinema Storyteller and Director

A few years ago, writer/producer Adele Lim wanted to get into directing. She had 17 years of working in writers rooms, producing and show running in tv, and co-writing two wildly successful feature films under her belt, but she questioned whether she had enough experience. Crazy Rich Asians, which she co-wrote, was the first major studio film to feature a majority cast of Asian descent since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Raya and the Last Dragon, which she co-wrote, was released in 2021. The animated feature brought Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess to the screen. Her many female filmmaker friends and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu reminded her she was ready.

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SPOTLIGHT April 2024: LILY GLADSTONE, Actor and Activist

There is no denying 2023 was Lily Gladstone’s (she/they) breakout year. After acting for a decade in bit parts and as part of ensemble films, Gladstone’s name is the one on everyone’s lips thanks to their portrayal of Mollie Burkhart in The Killers of the Flower Moon. In a film dominated by men and lauded male talent like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and director Martin Scorsese, it’s Gladstone’s performance that’s rightfully being singled out. Collecting numerous awards for their performance including the SAG Award, Golden Globe, and dozens of critics’ circle awards including Best Actress and Best Breakthrough Performance from AWFJ, Gladstone’s award run was capped off with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Though she’s not adding “Oscar winner” to her impressive credentials just yet, their star is definitely on the rise as a formidable on-screen talent.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2024: JUNE SQUIBB, Kickass Actress and Stuntwoman

There’s no question that women deal with sexism, misogyny, and ageism, particularly in the entertainment industry, but that has not stopped June Squibb. Now in her 90’s, tje Oscar-nominated Squibb stars in Thelma , an action thriller in which she performs her own stunts. She has no plans to slow down. She advises: “Don’t listen to other people. Believe in yourself, and do your own thing.” June Squibb is a testament to the power of determination, the value of standing in our own power, and knowing our own worth. She is an inspiration for all women, regardless of their career, and at any age.

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SPOTLIGHT February, 2024: Ava DuVernay, Filmmaker, Activist and Architect of our Reflections

Ava emerges as a beacon of narrative innovation and cultural introspection. She’s not just making films; she’s setting new standards. Ava has a knack for seeing things that others miss and giving a voice to stories that are too often left untold. Her films do more than challenge our thinking; they shatter the status quo and remold the fragments into works of Kintsugi—showing off our shine but never denying our sharp edges. The Alliance of Women Film Journalists celebrates Ava DuVernay for her indelible contribution to the art of storytelling and her pursuit of stories and initiatives that don’t just entertain but enlighten, empower, and embrace us.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2024: AWFJ’s New Members for 2024

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists is delighted and honored to welcome five outstanding female film journalists as new members, starting in January 2024. They are film critics, commentators and reporters who hail from across the U.S. Canada, and the United Kingdom, and they represent a wide range of media platforms, including popular and erudite publications, daily newspapers and other print journals, broadcast, podcast and online outlets. We invite you to follow them on AWFJ.org where you can enjoy reading their diverse opinions about films and movie industry trends

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SPOTLIGHT December 2023: SUSANNE BIER, Award-Winning, Pond-Hopping, Genre-Diverse Director

Susanne Bier is among Europe’s most prolific and honored female film and television writer-directors. Her career filmography spans formats, genres and countries. Originally from Denmark, some of Bier’s best-known works, at least for international audiences, include Hollywood productions like Bird Box and In A Better World, and the Hollywood remakes of her original films, like Brothers and After the Wedding. Bier is said to be the first female director to win a Golden Globe (Best Picture, In A Better World), a Primetime Emmy (Directing, The Night Manager), a European Film Award (many, including Achievement in World Cinema in 2021) and an Oscar (Foreign Language Film, In a Better World). She currently co-chairs the Academy’s International Feature Film Executive Committee.

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SPOTLIGHT November 2023: Samy Burch, Screenwriter, MAY DECEMBER

One of the most serendipitous pairings in the film world this year is screenwriter Samy Burch and director Todd Haynes. If you’re thinking “Samy who?,” you’re not alone — Burch is best-known as a casting director, and she appears to have come out of nowhere with the superb screenplay for May December, the new Todd Haynes movie starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman. In fact, Burch is also a writer/director. The May December story was co-written by Burch and Alex Mechanik, a fellow filmmaker who happens to be her husband.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2023: Sandra Huller, Actress of the Year

In a bit of casting kismet, two of the biggest films this year star the same actor: Sandra Huller. Huller was dubbed the “Queen of Cannes” last May after director Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall won the Palme d’Or and Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest took both the runner-up Grand Prize of the Festival and the FIPRESCI honors. Huller, 45, stars in the courtroom thriller Anatomy of a Fall as a woman on trial for her husband’s murder. The film is a carefully structured moral conundrum about truth and perception, and all of it hinges on Huller’s performance . In The Zone of Interest, a Holocaust film unlike any other, she plays Hedwig Hoss, a homemaker enjoying the upward mobility that comes with being the wife of the Commandant of Auschwitz. What Huller does here is understated and difficult to describe, but the specificity in her work is such that you will swear you know what the character smells like.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2023: Fran Drescher, Actor, Author, SAG-AFTRA Activist

She may have perfected the role of glamorous ditz, but Fran Drescher is actually a warrior. Known best for perennial favourite The Nanny, Drescher captured the attention of TV viewers for years and became fixed in the public consciousness as funny, fearless and feminist. In the last few months, Drescher has recaptured the spotlight in her role as President of SAG-AFTRA, a union leadership position to which she was elected in 2021. Initially, some doubted her ability to represent the massive 160,000-strong union membership —yes, a woman underestimated. When did that ever happen before?

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