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 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 Like Sadat’s first feature, Wolf and Sheep, it’s based on the unpublished diaries of Anwar Hashimi, and it offers a closely observed portrait of real teen life in this specific time and place.

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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 26, 2021: MY ZOE

Like Kramer vs. Kramer by way of The Twilight Zone, Julie Delpy’s compelling drama My Zoe examines the depth and fierceness of maternal love. It centers on Isabelle (Delpy), a woman who will take every risk and push every envelope in the name of her beloved daughter, Zoe (Sophia Ally). But is she acting in Zoe’s interests or her own?

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 25, 2021: TEST PATTERN

Heartbreaking and infuriating in its authentic portrayal of a woman left reeling after being raped, Shatara Michelle Ford’s Test Pattern makes it crystal clear just how stacked the system often is against the victims of sexual assault. Between endless bureaucracy and condescending skepticism, it’s no wonder so many women don’t even bother pursuing justice for these horrible crimes.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 29, 2021: TRUE MOTHERS

Motherhood — in all its complexity — is at the heart of Naomi Kawase’s drama True Mothers, which tells the intertwined stories of Hikari Katakura (Aju Makita) and Satoko Kurihara (Hiromi Nagasaku). Their circumstances are very different, but they both fiercely love the same little boy, and that love ultimately helps each better understand the other.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 15, 2021: ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY

The United States has never truly been a democracy, because it has never fully supported voting rights for all of its citizens. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the future. By focusing specifically on Stacey Abrams’ work and experiences in Georgia, All In reveals the path to true democracy — and, guess what? It works, but it’s hard.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 1, 2021: PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Smart, bold, and refreshingly original, Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman marks the feature directorial debut of a major filmmaking talent. Fennell’s confident, fearless direction and script — along with a confident, outstanding performance by star Carey Mulligan — give this darkly comic and deeply satisfying thriller an impact that you won’t soon forget.

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