SPOTLIGHT July, 2021: Heidi Ewing on Nonfiction, Partnership and I CARRY YOU WITH ME

Kudos to Heidi Ewing who has built her laudable career and cinema catalogue by helping fascinating people to tell their stories with authenticity and grace. Whether she’s focusing on a strict religious community, the physical and financial impact of manufacturing shutdowns on an industrial city, or two men risking everything to seek the freedom to love each other, Ewing’s empathetic lens captures the humanity of her subjects, while she is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop her own unique talents and skills.

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SPOTLIGHT June 2021: Elaine Bogan, Animation Maven, Director of SPIRIT UNTAMED

This month, Elaine Bogan makes her feature debut directing the animated film, Spirit Untamed. It is the culmination of years working in story development and honing her directing skills in animated television. Her first feature is also the result of a life spent dreaming and reaching for new opportunities.

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SPOTLIGHT May 2021: Jenifer Westphal, Executive Producer, Founder and CEO of Wavelength Productions

Jenifer Westphal’s commitment is not to telling women’s stories but to giving women the opportunity to tell their own stories. That’s something many in the industry could learn from. She consistently work hard to honor the spirit of the 4% pledge and go beyond it. Of the projects produced or funded by Wavelength, more than 20 have been directed by women.

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SPOTLIGHT April 2021: Tami Reiker, Global Feminist Cinematographer

The first woman ever to win an award from the American Society of Cinematographers, Tami Reiker has been forging her own path as a cinematographer since her college days, making art with directors like Lisa Cholodenko and Gina Prince-Bythewood. Fascinated by people and their stories, her work has taken her to destinations that range from well-trafficked to hidden corners. She has many tales to tell and loves to do so — most often with a camera in hand.

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SPOTLGHT March 2021: Alice Guy-Blaché, Pioneering Filmmaker, Studio Founder and Iconic Cinema Influencer

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on Alice Guy-Blaché, the French pioneer filmmaker whose work introduced narrative fiction films to early cinema. She is credited for being first woman to direct a film. And, from 1896 to 1906, while she was most likely the only female filmmaker at work worldwide, she most certainly pushed the envelope on cinema aesthetics, technology and social relevance by working with color tinting and special effects, utilizing Gaumont’s Chronophone sync-sound system, casting women as leading characters and casting interracially.

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SPOTLIGHT February 2021: Carey Mulligan, Actress and Character Champion

Carey Mulligan consistently and deliberately plays women who defy expectations. She likes the unpredictable story, pushing back against characters who look, move, or speak the way that female characters often have. Now after challenging herself as an artist and audiences, she’s asked critics to raise the bar as well, going beyond physicality when examining a film and what makes it work. As creatives strive to see the full spectrum of women represented onscreen, being honest yet constructive in our assessments – just as Mulligan is honest in her performances – is vital to moving forward.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2021: Keri Putnam, Sundance Executive Director and Activist

With consistent commitment, creativity and compassion, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam opens opportunities for diverse voices in moviemaking. She has built industry-wide alliances that advocate and enact change. Numbers don’t lie. The Sundance fest 2021 program boasts 50% female filmmakers. Sundance grants fund films that Hollywood would deny. When, at some point in the future, we all see ourselves represented onscreen and in the credits, we can thank Keri Putnam Putnam for moving the needle forward to make it happen.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2020: Eda Reiss Merin, Actress, Activist and inspiration for AWFJ’s EDA Awards

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ EDA Awards, presented annually during awards season and at various festivals during the year, are currently in their 14th year, and are well known to the film industry for categories honoring female filmmakers, along with the more general award categories that are presented by the Academy and other movie awards organizations. The EDA Awards are well known, but many industry people — including some who’ve received them — don’t know much about their name. Why EDA? Since December sees AWFJ in full awards season activism, this is a good time to share the EDA story. Hence our December SPOTLIGHT is focused on actress and activist Eda Reiss Merin.

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SPOTLIGHT November 2020: Regina King, Actress, Activist, Moviemaker

Regina King has built a career on authenticity and staying true to herself professionally and personally. She’s reached the actors A list with a many faceted filmography that represents Black women with depth and meaning. She has expanded her reach to producing and directing, showing herself to be a talent with vision in both spheres. She is also someone who raises those around her, both in her own industry and beyond. For that reason, she deserves not only this SPOTLIGHT, but our continued fascination.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2020: Joana Vicente, TIFF-Maker, Indie Producer and Film Activist

Joana Vicente’s first year as co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival was a triumph. The transplanted New Yorker oversaw a TIFF that had all the bases covered: superb films, A-list movie stars in attendance, initiatives in place to level the playing field for filmmakers (and journalists) and all the razzle dazzle required to make the festival a magnet for industry, audience and tourism dollars. Her second TIFF happened in a pandemic. It too was a triumph.

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