HOPE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Norwegian Oscar submission Hope (original title Håp) is a relationship movie about messy, committed love. Though the film is centered on someone struggling with cancer, writer/director Maria Sødahl doesn’t create a shiny, Hollywood ‘cancer film’. She reveals many aspects of what it’s like to face mortality, from the perspective of a woman and mother, as well as from those standing by, like the children and the partner who love her, and does so with such truth, that the film will resonate with a wide variety of viewers. The film will also resonate with most who are in or have had long term relationships, which often involve complications, resentments, and the experience of repeatedly falling out of and back into love.

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SLALOM – Review by Loren King

Slalom is one of the best of many recent strong films — Promising Young Woman, The Assistant, Groomed and Athlete A among them — that fit under the #metoo umbrella as they examine young women and girls exploited and harassed by predatory men. With its assured tone and sharp visual style, Slalom is a realistic coming of age film with a contemporary bite. It is a remarkable debut feature from French director and co-writer Charlene Favier that unwinds like a tightly balled fist.

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SLALOM – Review by Nikki Baughan

For 15-year-old Lyz (Noée Abita), the chance to take part in a high-level ski training programme in the French Alps doesn’t just represent professional opportunity, but the chance to find a place to belong. With her father absent and her mother (Muriel Combeau) having effectively abandoned her daughter for a new love in Marseille, Lyz is already adrift before she is thrust into this challenging regime, where she is judged over everything from her weight to her form.

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SLALOM – Review by Jennifer Merin

Slalom is, as the title suggests, a film about skiing. Set in the glorious French Alps, French director and co-scripter Charlene Favier’s first feature is the story of fifteen year old Lyz Lopez (Noee Abita) who is attending a boarding school for gifted high school athletes who have the ambition and potential to represent France on the ski team at the Winter Olympics.

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SUGAR DADDY – Review by Jennifer Merin

Sugar Daddy is a beautifully crafted film. Director Wendy Morgan, cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse and editor Christine Armstrong skillfully tell the story through moving images that subtly indicate shifts of mood and intention as they inform the viewer of Darren’s evolving feelings and circumstances. Kelly McCormack’s brave and intimate performance is simply stunning. As writer and actor, she allows Darren’s story to unfold without explanation or apology. Brava!

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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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GROOMED – Review by Jennifer Merin

Groomed is an intensely personal documentary in which the filmmaker chronicles her own journey to discover the truth about her childhood encounter with a predatory sexual abuser and to recover from the long lasting impact his abuse has had on her life as an adult. Gwen van de Pas, now living in San Francisco with a wonderfully understanding and supportive man, is beset by nightmares and panic attacks and sets out to investigate the cause of them.

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GROOMED – Review by Liz Whittemore

Groomed is the devastatingly powerful story of filmmaker Gwen van de Pas as she returns to her hometown in search of answers about the man who sexually abused her as a child. To understand her ongoing traumas, Gwen travels to meet survivors, psychologists, and even a convicted sex offender. Groomed addresses a common yet little understood manipulation type called ‘grooming’, how to recognize it, and how to stop it.

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GROOMED – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Director Gwen van de Pass, who lives in San Francisco as an adult, turns the tables on that scenario by being able take control of the narrative of own sexual abuse story. As a pre-teen in Holland in the late-‘90s, she was part of a swim team whose male assistant instructor singled her out for special attention. She continues to be haunted by how her sexual abuser systematically made her feel special while taking physical liberties with an under-aged child. Van de Pas uses the medium of film to perform a kind of exorcism for her and others so they can move on with their lives.

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