PUPPY LOVE – Review by Justina Walford

Puppy Love is a loving documentary about a healthy litter of Labrador puppies that suddenly become paralyzed. Their breeder, Cindy, is advised to put them down, but she resolves to make them better, taking back every dog that falls ill from their adopters to dedicate her time and resources to their health. In fact, her goal is not only to help them walk, it is to help them thrive as intelligent and active dogs. So she and a group of tenacious women use every possible solution to bring these dogs back to health despite vets and people in the dog community having different opinions. First and foremost, if you love dogs and you love the people who go out of their way to take care of them, this is a solid film.

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BIRTH/REBIRTH – Review by Justina Walford

Birth/Rebirth shows the timely end of the female archetypes of Madonna and whore. That old trope is tossed to the curb while we move forward into a domain that overlaps traditional male archetypes but is also distinctly feminine. Dr. Caspar and Celie are the new female archetypes: the untethered seeker or scientist and the mother who will do anything for her child. And through these characters, we find an unnerving exploration of motherhood, life purpose, and our place as humans in a world of chaos and fear.

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KLONDIKE – Review by Justina Walford

When we see expectant parents, we think of nurseries and colorful mobiles with the laughter of nervous parents emotionally in sync and awaiting their important day. But in the dark of Klondike’s opening scene, it doesn’t take long to realize that this typical expectant parents’ conversation is not what we expect. The couple has a hole in their house. The environment is bleak and brown. And their conversation is interrupted by a loud explosion. So now we expect a drama with action and blood. But no. Again, we are turned around by the dry, absurdist wit of writer and director Maryna Er Gorbach, and we see this couple struggle with the mundane as much as with the mind games of politics and war.

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MILLIE LIES LOW – Review by Justina Walford

Millie Lies Low goes headlong into the mistakes people make. Millie is on her way to New York for a prestigious internship, but she has a panic attack and gets stuck in her hometown. Instead of telling her friends and family that she missed her flight and can’t afford another one, she decides to fake her trip to New York on social media. Her life devolves from there, with each secretive misstep leading to worse and worse consequences. Big mistakes leading to bigger mistakes.

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BLUE JEAN – Review by Justina Walford

Dramas set in the 80s walk a tightrope, often forcing us into a sense of nostalgia, romanticizing the decade even though it was far from inclusive. LGBTQ coming-out films also walk a tightrope, usually stuck in a world of early LGBTQ challenges without showing a character existing beyond the struggle of identity. Blue Jean is both of these genres. Yet, the combination defies the challenges and comes off beautifully as a sincere dialogue and, in some ways, a sincere amends and admiration among generations.

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CLOSE TO VERMEER – Review by Justina Walford

Suzanne Raes’ documentary,”Closer to Vermeer, delves into the enigmatic world of Johannes Vermeer, the celebrated painter behind masterpieces like “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Little is truly known about the artist himself, and that mystery has been studied and debated by scholars as long as his art has been known. This documentary’s essential story is not about Vermeer as much as Vermeer is the framework to tell an even more riveting tale. As the camera pans so intimately close to Vermeer’s paint and canvas, we see the gloves and scopes of study, gently poring over every dab of paint.

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EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (L’employée du mois) – Review by Justina Walford

Véronique Jadin’s Employee Of The Month (L’employée du mois) is an office comedy with a bloody twist seen through the eyes of long-suffering EcoClean office manager Ines and the new intern Melody. The film starts with a pan of the EcoClean office: a generic set up of old desks, shelves of product perfectly lined up, and all the clues of an organized office manager keeping it spotless and character-less except for a fish – a solitary, silent fish.

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ANNA NICOLE SMITH: YOU DONT KNOW ME – Review by Justina Walford

When we look at all the young women who rise quickly to fame with their beauty and sensuality, too many have stories that end tragically. Ursula Macfarlane’s documentary shows us the cost of fame but also reveals the humanity of a woman who wielded so much power and yet struggled for her own empowerment. Vicky Lynn had many stories. Anna Nicole had many stories. Which one was the real woman?

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SPOTLIGHT September 2019: Justina Walford, Filmmaker, Founder of Women Texas Film Festival (aka WTxFF)

Justina Walford considers herself a writer, first and foremost. She’s successfully produced her own screenplays and theater scripts, but AWFJ shines our September SPOTLIGHT on Justina Walford in recognition of her feminist film activism as founder and Artistic Director of the annual Women Texas Film Festival (WTxFF), a sterling celebration of cinema that showcases films made by and about women.

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