SPOTLIGHT October 2021: Kinuyo Tanaka, Japanese Golden Age Actor, Director, and Lumière Honoree

2021 was the year the film world rediscovered Japanese actor and director Kinuyo Tanaka. Tanaka acted in more than 200 films for some of the greatest directors Japan ever produced during a career that spanned from 1924 through 1976—just a year before her death. Her work as a director, however, is largely unknown, but thanks to the restoration of some of her films by The Japan Foundation, audiences are gaining access to her ground-breaking work.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2021: Jane Campion, feminist filmmaker, Dame Companion and Lumiere Honoree

Jane Campion has furthered the cause of women in film by holding steady to her own extraordinary aesthetic, unique career choices and creation of dazzling visual poetry. Throughout her career, her feminist approach to filmmaking has been expressed in her distinctive vision and directorial style, and in her consistent creation of strong, complex and fully fleshed out female characters who rank among the finest, most compelling in film history.

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SPOTLIGHT August 2021: Theo Park, Casting Director, TED LASSO

Theo Park is a casting director with clout! Recently nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for casting Ted Lasso, the phenom freshman television series that set a record for its number of Emmy wins for the actors Park cast in the show (along with other categories), she’s shaping the population of performers who are beloved by audiences around the globe. She is unquestionably enthusiastic about her work and readily acknowledges that she’s been fortunate in finding opportunities that have brought her to the pinnacle of success.

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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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