Middleburg Film Festival 2022: Female Focus – Leslie Combemale reports

The Middleburg Film Festival marked its 10th year in operation this October, and as founder Sheila Johnson and director Susan Koch have done from the start, they made the celebration of women in film both in front of and behind the camera one of the major priorities of the fest. There were 16 female-helmed films represented in the fest out of the 44 shown, including several by women of color, and many of those films also have female heads of departments, which is, of course, important to advancing gender parity overall.

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THE WOMAN KING – Review by Susan Granger

One of the many benefits of inclusion is the ability to learn about historical events that have never before been chronicled on the big screen. Set in 1823, this story follows Nawi (Thuso Mbebu), a rebellious Dahomey teenager who refuses an arranged marriage; infuriated, her father forces her to join warrior force known as the Agojie, commanded by General Nanisca (Viola Davis). Working from a jumbled, often overly melodramatic script by Maria Bello and Dana Stevens, director Gina Prince-Blythewood delivers a rousing, action-packed adventure.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 23, 2022: THE WOMAN KING

In the African kingdom of Dahomey, now a part of Benin, an elite all-female military regiment of warriors called the Agojie guarded the king and his subjects from the 1600s through the 1800s. By the mid-19th century, they accounted for a third of the entire Dahomey army. That’s history, and the inspiration for director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, one of the few studio films releasing in 2022 directed by a female filmmaker.

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Gina Prince-Bythewood on Cast, Action and Camera in THE WOMAN KING – Leslie Combemale interviews

With the new historical epic The Woman King, Gina Prince-Bythewood has added yet another winner to her impressive filmography. Based on historical events, the film is centered on a cast of Black women portraying members of the Agojie, a legion of female warriors who protected the Kingdom of Dahomey (now part of Benin) in 1800s Africa. Full of action, the performers in The Woman King do nearly all their own stunts, and every actor portraying a member of the Agojie plays a powerful, fully-formed, three dimensional character. Prince-Bythewood chats about her cast, her collaborators above and below the line, and how The Woman King has changed her as a director.

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Terilyn Shropshire on Gina Prince-Bythewood, Evolutional Editing and THE WOMAN KING – Leslie Combemale interviews

Terilyn Shropshire has been building a career as a film and television editor in Hollywood for over 30 years, working with some of the best directors in the business. Her ongoing collaboration with Gina Prince-Bythewood began in 2000 with the director’s now classic Love and Basketball. Now Shropshire is in the spotlight for her work with Prince-Bythewood on the new and critically acclaimed release The Woman King. AWFJ.org’s Leslie Combems;le spoke with Shropshire about her process, and the joy of a project that highlights powerful Black women in a positive and dynamic way never done before onscreen.

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THE WOMAN KING – Review by Sherin Nicole

It’s been a long time coming but The Woman King has arrived and, damn, it’s amazing. The story focuses on Nanisca (Viola Davis), the general of The Agojie under the reign of King Ghezo (John Boyega). Of course, something or someone has to shake things up. Say hello to Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), our POV character who is as young, brash, rash, and reckless as you want her to be. But she isn’t Nanisca’s only problem. How can a girlie win? Gina Prince-Bythewood’s epic is about to let us know if she can.

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THE WOMAN KING – Review by Loren King

One of the most goosebump-inducing scenes in any big release this fall is the moment in The Woman King when an army of women warriors led by the fierce and radiant Viola Davis rise up in unison from the tall grass and run into battle. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who proved she could tackle the action genre last year with Netflix’s The Old Guard, has crafted a crowd pleaser that blends the historical epics of David Lean; recent action adventures with relevant themes such as Black Panther and Wonder Woman; and intimate, visceral drama about sisterhood, trauma and empowerment.

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THE WOMAN KING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Do you like an epic film, one with rousing battle scenes, exciting fight choreography, a great story and memorable characters? Then The Woman King is for you, because it has it all. Yes, Gina Price-Bythewood’s The Woman King, a historical epic set in early 19th century Africa starring Viola Davis, is all that – and right out of the gate, was a big hit at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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THE WOMAN KING – Review by T.J. Callahan

Inspired by true events, The Woman King is the epic story of an all female band of African warriors, known as the Virgin Soldiers. Led by General Nanisca, played by the force known as Viola Davis, they removed their enemies from their small kingdom of Dahomey back in the 1800’s. The Woman King is Wonder Woman, Black Panther, The Ten Commandments, Days of Our Lives and, wait for it….Blazing Saddles all rolled into one larger than life historical action drama.

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Cameron Bailey on TIFF 2022, Curation and Share Her Journey – Liz Braun interviews

For the first time in two years, The Toronto International Film Festival will be fully in-person. After falling back on drive-ins, streaming and limited screenings during the pandemic, CEO Cameron Bailey and his team were determined that TIFF 2022 would be extra special. “We knew we wanted to come back strong,” said Bailey in a recent interview. Mission accomplished.

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