SPOTLIGHT November 2019: Jen and Sylvia Soska, Canadian Twin Filmmakers, RABID

For far too long, women horror film directors have been considered an oddity. Key figures in the contemporary ‘women in horror’ movement, Canadian filmmaking twins Jen and Sylvia Soska established themselves as noteworthy directors and screenwriters with their 2009 debut feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk. The film’s cult status has changed the horror genre landscape and perceptions about female horror directors. The Soska effect continues with this year’s Rabid.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2019: Issa Lopez, Filmmaker, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

Writer/director Issa López is an exciting new voice in genre film, although she’s been a successful figure in the Mexican film industry since the early part of the 21st century. Her aesthetic is anchored in a blend of magical realism and the grittiness and stark reality of the real world, all seen from a horror-drenched version of the female gaze. She found success early in her career writing rom-coms and comedies that broke box office records, but left that all behind to focus on creating genre films true to her own creative inclinations, most recently resulting in the brilliant Tigers Are Not Afraid.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2019: Justina Walford, Filmmaker, Founder of Women Texas Film Festival (aka WTxFF)

Justina Walford considers herself a writer, first and foremost. She’s successfully produced her own screenplays and theater scripts, but AWFJ shines our September SPOTLIGHT on Justina Walford in recognition of her feminist film activism as founder and Artistic Director of the annual Women Texas Film Festival (WTxFF), a sterling celebration of cinema that showcases films made by and about women.

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SPOTLIGHT August 2019: Carol Whiteman, Feminist Film Advocate, Activist, President of Women in the Directors Chair

In Canadian women’s filmmaker circles, mention of Carol Whiteman’s name is cause for applause. As President of the non-profit Women in the Director’s Chair, Whiteman can be credited with mentoring more than 250 women directors through the arduous process of making their first films — from concept to premiere. Any female filmmaker who is working in Canada or has aspirations to do so ought to have Whiteman’s name on her must meet list.

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SPOTLIGHT July 2019: Andrea Arnold, Feminist Film Director, BIG LITTLE LIES

Andrea Arnold’s career shows what a woman filmmaker’s ‘can do spirit’ can do. The career path she’s created for herself has brought her from the difficult circumstances of a child raised in a single parent home in the environs of a working class ‘estate’ in suburban London to the coveted and exalted position of series director for a highly acclaimed and high ranking television series. Along the way, she’s won an Oscar and become an OBE, and accrued numerous other awards and honors for her femme-centric films. Arnold’s filmography is stunning in its inventiveness and variety, but it is her exceptional leadership as director of HBO’S Big Little Lies Season Two, which began airing in June that puts her in AWFJ’s July SPOTLIGHT.

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SPOTLIGHT June 2019: Rita Coburn, Film Activist and Filmmaker, MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE

Rita Coburn’s acclaimed documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, co-directed with Bob Hercules, was released in 2016, but the film is ever timely in its importance and impact. In an ongoing outreach program, Coburn still travels with the film to schools and community centers, bringing to a wide range of audiences — especially impressionable youngsters — an understanding of the brilliant and inspiring Dr. Angelou, of her empowering story, of the importance of storytelling and of documentary film as the record of essential human history — especially the herstory that hasn’t been taught in schools.

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SPOTLIGHT May 2019: Margarethe von Trotta, Director, Actress, Leading Force of the New German Cinema

After 50 years of fearless determination as a director working largely in the German film industry, Margarethe von Trotta is set to receive a lifetime achievement honor on May 3 at the 2019 German Film Awards in Berlin. Announcing the decision to recognize her, German Film Academy president Ulrich Matthes said, “In a time when women were rarely allowed to direct, Margarethe von Trotta said, ‘I can do that! In all these years she’s given us some of the most intense female figures in German cinema.”

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SPOTLIGHT April 2019: Chaz Ebert, Filmanthropist and Activist

The term most often used to describe Chaz Ebert is probably “force of nature.” Most of us come to the world of movies through love of cinematic storytelling, but in her case, it was through love of the most influential movie critic of all time, Roger Ebert. Through her own special brand of film activism, Chaz Ebert consistently champions the work of women in film.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2019: Patricia Resnick, Screenwriter

Screenwriter Patricia Resnick is an ardent feminist. “I say to male friends and family members, if 95 percent of movies and television about men were written and directed by women, would you not think that would be a skewed view of men? That’s what we live with. I know there’s more of a fight now for female directors but it also needs to be a fight for female writers and female show runners.”

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SPOTLIGHT February 2019: Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director, Women In Film Los Angeles

AWFJ’s February SPOTLIGHT illuminates the career and accomplishments of one of the most inspiring women making a difference in Hollywood. Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women in Film: Los Angeles, has been a leader in the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, and has been in the forefront of the fight for parity and safe working environments for women in the film industry through the Weinstein and other abuse scandals.

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