SPOTLIGHT February, 2022: Nina Menkes, Independent Filmmaker, Feminist Activist, Educator

Nina Menkes is a trailblazer of American independent cinema and a crucial voice in our current reckoning with the ways film—both as an industry and an art form—treats women. More importantly, few living filmmakers have created work so virtually unprecedented in its stark originality. Her oeuvre is ripe for rediscovery.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2022: Jacqueline Stewart, Film Scholar, Archivist, and Curator

As a deeply committed film scholar whose work is resurrecting forgotten figures—particularly African American artists—in cinematic history, Jacqueline Stewart is changing face of American culture. Her contributions as an educator, curator, archivist, author, and popular presenter will ensure that diversity both of narrators and narratives will enrich our culture for years to come.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2021: Ari Wegner, Cinematographer, THE POWER OF THE DOG and ZOLA

While she won’t speculate on her own awards prospects, Ari Wegner recently told me how happy she is to see the way women are now being more welcomed in the field of cinematography. She hopes this will continue to increase as female DPs start to see the recognition that has eluded them for so long. She discusses both the art and science of filmmaking with such a degree of passion and poetry, that her love for the medium is contagious. She is a leader, a champion, and a gifted artist, giving the world not only beautiful images, but a sense of hope and fascination too.

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SPOTLIGHT November 2021: Lauren Ridloff, Actress, ASL Teacher and Cultural Heroine

For Lauren Ridloff, the chance to perform on stage and screen and taking on a new starring role in Marvel’s Eternals, is not just an avenue for creative expression, but also gives her the space to open doors for others in the deaf community while also teaching the hearing community how to foster a more inclusive experience for everyone.

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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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