MOVIE OF THE WEEK Dec 6, 2019: PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

A picture is worth a thousand words — and leads to a thousand longing glances — in writer/director Celine Sciamma’s passionate drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Set in remote mid-1700s Brittany, it follows the increasingly intense relationship between painter Marianne (Noemie Merlant) and her unknowing subject, Heloise (Adele Haenel), who has just left sheltered convent life.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Leslie Combemale

If there is such a genre as ‘Mystical Femme,’ and there really should be, French writer/director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire belongs in it, placed at the top. Winner of the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the film features magnetic lead actresses whose chemistry with each other is off the charts.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Loren King

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, winner of the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is an unforgettable love story that unspools at a slow burn until the final act, which blazes with an incandescence. The women don’t end up together — no surprise, given the times, and this outcome is made clear by the film’s opening scene. But through artistic images of one another — those they recorded, what they revealed — they keep alive a precious, private memory forever burned into their hearts and minds.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Sheila Roberts

If you enjoy femme-centric cinema with a strong female gaze, go see filmmaker Celine Sciamma’s sublime period drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, set on an isolated island in 1760’s Brittany. Sciamma examines the relationship between a reluctant bride-to-be (Heloise/Adele Haenel) and the artist (Marianne/Noemie Merlant) secretly commissioned by her mother (La Comtesse/Valeria Golino) to paint her wedding portrait. While posing as a hired companion, Marianne surreptitiously observes every detail of her subject on their daily walks then paints Heloise from memory in the evenings.

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Middleburg Film Festival 2019 Wrap-Up – Sandie Angulo Chen reports

Now in its seventh year, the Middleburg Film Festival in bucolic Virginia horse country continues to feature a well-curated slate of top-notch narrative and documentary feature films from around the world. Washington D.C.-area AWFJ members in attendance included Nell Minow and Susan Wloszczyna, both of whom participated in the Talk Back to the Critics’ session, as well as Leslie Combemale and Sandie Angulo Chen. Between us, we saw at least 40 films, and we’ve picked our favorite women-focused films and performances from the festival for readers to put on their must-watch lists.

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NEW YORK FILM FEST ’19: Great (but too few) Female Filmmakers – Jennifer Merin reports

Programming for this year’s 57th New York Film Festival, held from September 15 to October 23, suggests that this highly regarded cinema showcase has little regard for the 5050×2020 gender parity initiative. Of the 66 feature films presented in this year’s 26-day schedule, just 11 were directed by women. That’s a mere 16.666666666667%, and a very long short fall from the 50/50 by 2020 goal. That said, the female-directed films that were showcased in this year’s NYFF program are absolutely brilliant. Here’s a run down.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – TIFF19 Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The manner with which acclaimed French filmmaker Céline Sciamma tackles the notion of the female gaze in Portrait of a Lady on Fire transcends mere cleverness and artistry; she elevates it to something almost mystical.

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