SPOTLIGHT September 2021: Jane Campion, feminist filmmaker, Dame Companion and Lumiere Honoree

Jane Campion has furthered the cause of women in film by holding steady to her own extraordinary aesthetic, unique career choices and creation of dazzling visual poetry. Throughout her career, her feminist approach to filmmaking has been expressed in her distinctive vision and directorial style, and in her consistent creation of strong, complex and fully fleshed out female characters who rank among the finest, most compelling in film history.

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RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT – Review by Martha K Baker

In her 70 years in show biz, Rita Moreno has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. That’s how versatile she is as an actor, singer, and dancer. But this excellent biodoc about her long life shows her to be also political, persuasive, puckish, and dedicated — attributes that also led to all those awards.

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MY OCTOPUS TEACHER – Review by Susan Granger

I’ve seen hundreds of nature documentaries but nothing like Craig Foster’s compelling, Oscar-winning underwater adventure, chronicling his free-diving – without wetsuit or scuba gear- in the frigid Atlantic Ocean in the Cape of Storms, off the Western coast of South Africa every day for a year. Best known for filming The Great Dance (2000) about the indigenous Kalahari San trackers, Foster was, admittedly, mentally depressed and physically exhausted when he started swimming in a shallow cove with a dense kelp forest.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Women achieve historic wins at 2021 Academy Awards – Brandy McDonnell reports

At the 2021 Academy Awards ceremonies, women earned a record 17 trophies, the most in Oscar history. Considering the ceremony awarded 30 male winners, that means women received 36% of the statuettes awarded in the 23 competitive categories. Compare that to 2020, when a third of the 39 winners were women, and 2019, when 15 of the 54 winners were women, which is 27.8%.

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Maria Sødahl on HOPE, Survival and Filmmaking – Loren King interviews

With her stunning drama Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sødahl artfully uses a woman’s cancer diagnosis as the portal though which she examines nothing less than life, loss, marriage and mortality. Hope is deeply personal: Sødahl’s own cancer diagnosis forced her to take a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking after her acclaimed debut, Limbo, set in 1970s Trinidad. About four years ago, as Sødahl found herself ready to write again, her life-altering experience was something she simply could not avoid exploring in a script.

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HOPE – Review by Diane Carson

Norwegian director Maria Sødahl’s autobiographical film Hope sounds, at first glance, potentially off-putting. Instead, embrace this jewel. Anja Richter, a middle-aged dance choreographer, returns to Oslo from a successful performance in Amsterdam, pleased with reviews. But something feels off, just not right. Anja’s dizzy and has trouble seeing clearly even with her glasses. An MRI will confirm her suspicion.

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WOMEN MAKE HISTORICAL ADVANCES IN THE 2021 OSCAR RACE – Susan Granger reports

History was made when the Oscar nominations were released for the Best Director category. Only five women have ever been nominated before. This year, Chloe Zhao was chosen for her elegiac road-trip drama “Nomadland,” along with first-time feature-filmmaker Emerald Fennel for her #MeToo revenge comedy “Promising Young Woman.” Chloe Zhao, the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, is the most nominated woman in a single year in Oscar history, since she’s also competing as Best Picture producer, along with Adapted Screenplay and Editing. That’s a record-breaking four nominations in a single year.

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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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HOPE – Review by Loren King

It takes remarkable insight and confidence to create a devastating portrait of a marriage inside a film about a woman facing her own mortality. That’s what writer/director Maria Sødahl does with searing Hope, Norway’s entry for this year’s Best International Feature Film Oscar. The film is so specific in its truthfulness that it isn’t a surprise to learn that it’s based on Sødahl’s own experience of a terminal cancer diagnosis that led to a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking. Of course, personal experience doesn’t always translate into art but in this case, it does.

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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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