SPOTLIGHT March 2020: Cynthia Lopez, NYC Cinema Activist, Advocate and Administrator

Cynthia López combines her love of film with her commitment to public service. Consistently advocating for women and diversity, she puts progress in motion. She’s shaped NYC’s cinema landscape for two decades, serving as executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer for POV, as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and, currently as Executive Director of New York Women in Film and Television.

Read more

SPOTLIGHT February 2020: Sara Zandieh, Filmmaker, A SIMPLE WEDDING

As Hollywood moves to course correct in wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Iranian-American director Sara Zandieh checks off a lot of requisite boxes, especially the one marked: TALENTED. After changing her career from journalism to writing and directing narrative films, each of her stepping stones has been a milestone.

Read more

SPOTLIGHT January 2020: Ava Duvernay, Filmmaker and Cinema Crusader

It’s hard to think of a more galvanizing, charismatic woman in film than Ava DuVernay. The 47-year-old producer, director, writer, distributor, and crusader for social justice has broken through boundaries and expanded professional and personal possibilities for women — especially women of color — working in film, and everywhere else. DuVernay has our greatest respect for her artistry, her dedication to freedom and equality for all people, and her innovative leadership by example.

Read more

SPOTLIGHT December 2019: Leslie Iwerks, Filmmaker, THE IMAGINEERING STORY

Leslie Iwerks is either Disney royalty, or a Disney brat, depending on whether you’re talking to fans or the director herself. She’s the grand-daughter of animator and inventor Ub Iwerks, one of Walt Disney’s oldest friends, creator of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and co-creator with Disney of Mickey Mouse. She is the daughter of technical innovator, lifetime Oscar Award winner, and Disney Legend Don Iwerks. As documentary director/producer, she has a distinguished career in film and an Oscar nominee for her work on The Pixar Story.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more