SHE IS… – Review by Rachel West

Every eight minutes, a child is sexually abused in the United States. Though shocking, these statistics only offer a glimpse into a worldwide problem. Internationally, sexual abuse and trafficking is hidden or under-reported, with UNICEF estimating that 1 in 10 girls under the age of 20 have experienced sexual abuse. In her new documentary She Is…, director Zuzana Lova opts to present a story of healing and purpose amid harrowing statistics, showcasing how victims of abuse and sex trafficking are finding healing through dance.

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AWFJ Presents: WHITE RIOT – Review by Pam Grady

Punk rock met political activism when Rock Against Racism rose up in Britain, pushing back at the rise of racism, xenophobia, and the far-right National Front movement in the 1970s. It might seem like ancient history but in Rubika Shah’s electrifying 2019 documentary, an organization defunct since the early 1980s feels more vital than ever. In our own age of creeping fascism, it imparts lessons about pushing back against the darkness. History is not dead in Shah’s telling, but part of a continuum and what transpired four decades ago impacts our lives even now.

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AWFJ Presents ONLY WHEN I DANCE – Review by Jennifer Green

It is only when he’s dancing that Brazilian teen Irlan Santos da Silva says he feels like himself. Born and raised in one of Rio de Janeiro’s impoverished favelas, ballet has offered Irlan an escape from the chaos of the city streets. He confides this to director Beadie Finzi’s omnipresent camera in the 2009 documentary Only When I Dance, an intimate character portrait of two young dancers following their passion to overcome the odds of their upbringing in the Brazilian metropolis.

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THE BALCONY MOVIE – Review by Diane Carson

One clever documentarian, Polish director Paweł Łoziński, turned his pandemic isolation into a fascinating, revealing interaction with neighbors in The Balcony Movie. Shooting entirely from his second floor balcony in Warsaw, over two-and-half years, Łoziński asks questions and listens to random passers-by who agree to talk with him, and some don’t but are still included.

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AWFJ Presents: YARN – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Yarn weaves in narration from author Barbara Kingsolver, who reads from her essay, “Where It Begins: Knitting as creation story,” as we’re introduced to the sheep who make this art possible. All of Yarn – like all of yarn – is about stories. It’s why there are sewing bees and quilting circles: because women share their stories both as they create and in their creations. Those stories are passed down for generations along with the objects themselves, adding immeasurably to their value.

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BROADWAY RISING – Review by Liz Whittemore

Amy Rice’s documentary film Broadway Rising follows Broadway’s fight from shutdown to reopening with stories from cast members , crew, and the thousands of creatives who carry an entire industry on their shoulders. Broadway Rising pulls back the curtain on all the people who inspire storytelling in its most glorious form. We rely on the audience for equal care when they come to the theatre. If a theater asks you to wear a mask, please listen. As Lin-Manuel Miranda says in the film, “We are like Tinkerbell. We need applause to live.” The show must go on. Let us entertain you.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 11, 2022 – BEING THUNDER

The importance of being loved, just as you are, is at the heart of Stéphanie Lamorré’s quietly observational documentary Being Thunder. As it follows Niantic Narragansett teenager Sherenté Harris — a two-spirit gender-fluid 15-year-old who finds joy in competing in traditional Native American fancy shawl dancing — the film drives home the power of the unconditional acceptance that Sherenté receives from their parents, siblings, and community.

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AWFJ Presents KARL MARX CITY – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

As citizens in several parts of the world (among them, Italy, Sweden, and the United States) toy with the idea of authoritarianism as a way to bring order and stability to the frequent messiness of democracy, it’s instructive to take stock of what an authoritarian regime actually looks like in practice. In my estimation, viewing the 2016 documentary Karl Marx City is a good place to start.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Clintons’ Afghan doc IN HER HANDS lands at Netflix – Brandy McDonnell reports

Produced by Hilary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, and filmed across two turbulent years, the documentary In Her Hands tells the story of Zarifa Ghafari, who at age 26 became one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors and the youngest to ever hold the position.

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WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND – Review by Martha K Baker

Iliana Sosa created a poignant portrait of one old man in What We Leave Behind. The old man is Sosa’s grandfather. Julián Moreno was born in 1930 and died in 2019. For much of his adult life, Moreno hitchhiked and/or rode buses every month between his home in Mexico to El Paso, Texas, to see his children. Sosa, a former Bill Gates Millennium Scholar, presents her grandfather’s life for inspection from morning to night, birth to death. She does so with great compassion.

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