MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 23, 2021: TOGETHER TOGETHER

The romantic comedy gets a power up in Nikole Beckwith’s effortlessly charming Together Together. Ed Helms is surprisingly lovable and charming as Matt, a single 40-something ready to take the next step in his life: fatherhood. Rather than keep searching for the perfect someone, he opts to go at it alone with the help of a surrogate. Enter Anna, Patti Harrison, a young woman looking to get her life back on tack and she sees surrogacy as a way to get there. What begins as a transactional relationship soon turns into a beautiful and all too real story of friendship and sacrifice. Beckwith’s script is smart and often drifts into too-close-for-comfort reality and its gorgeously brought to life by Helms and Harrison.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 16, 2021: HOPE

Maria Sodhal follows up 2010’s Limbo with another quiet yet powerful exploration of relationships under pressure; in this case, a shocking cancer diagnosis. Andrea Braein Hovig and Stellan Skarsgaard put in sterling performances as the long-term couple whose stale relationship is shaken up by the terminal illness. Writer/director at Sodhal – who drew on her own experiences – eschews overwrought melodrama and obvious emotional cues in favour of deeply felt observation, and delivers a film of raw realism and genuine humanity.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 9, 2021: SLALOM

As challenging — and stark — as the mountains its main character hurtles down in the pursuit of athletic glory and personal validation, French filmmaker Charlène Favier’s debut feature Slalom is an unflinching look at the impact of what happens to a vulnerable teenage girl when an authority figure abuses his authority and position of power.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 2, 2021: SUGAR DADDY

Stylish and original, director Wendy Morgan’s drama Sugar Daddy is a film that demands your attention. Much like its central character, Darren (Kelly McCormack, who also wrote the screenplay), it’s never gentle, yielding, or meek — rather, it’s bold, complicated, and confident in its artistry. It’s not always easy to watch, but it’s never less than compelling.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 26, 2021: GROOMED

Both heartbreaking and immensely informative, Gwen van de Pas’ documentary Groomed details the trauma inflicted on her as a child by a trusted adult who betrayed that trust in the most heinous way possible. Decades later, when the long-buried memories of the sexual abuse and rape she suffered resurface as nightmares and panic attacks, she uses filmmaking as a way to process the experience and figure out how to move on.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 19, 2021: ROSE PLAYS JULIE

In Rose Plays Julie the anxiety of a daughter’s discontent and her birth mother’s minefield of memories begin to run parallel. The film-makers layer in visuals of euthanasia, excavation, dissection, and horror to amplify a suspense that otherwise might’ve been melodrama. The result is an engrossing thriller made edgier by the performances of Ann Skelly and Orla Brady. From beginning to end, Rose Plays Julie is an effective examination of “what if” and sexual assault, one that leaves no doubt about the harm the latter causes, which is visceral and frightening and long lasting.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 12, 2021: MOXIE

Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, and David Hogg notwithstanding, not every teen is ready to fight for justice and equality on a national — or international — scale. Director Amy Poehler’s charming Moxie, based on the YA novel by Jennifer Mathieu, will speak to the kids who want to make a difference but aren’t quite sure they’re meant for the spotlight.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 5, 2021: THE ORPHANAGE

Filmed with an intimate realism that feels as authentic as any documentary, Shahrbanoo Sadat’s The Orphanage is a compelling drama about life in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, near the end of the country’s Soviet era. Like Sadat’s first feature, Wolf and Sheep, it’s based on the unpublished diaries of Anwar Hashimi, and it offers a closely observed portrait of real teen life in this specific time and place.

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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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Women’s History Month Watch List: REAL REEL WOMEN

Throughout cinema history, films by and about women have enthralled audiences, accrued awards and honors worldwide and scored at the box office while influencing out social social mores and enriching our cultural conversation. Although some Hollywood honchos and haters assert that female-centric movies are less likely to be commercial successes, our list proves them wrong. Movies that tell women’s stories have legs. Released to celebrate Women’s History Month, AWFJ’s REAL REEL WOMEN List is an annotated roster of 50 fascinating real women whose remarkable true stories have been told in narrative features since the earliest days of moviemaking.

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