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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HOPE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

It takes some cinematic guts for a filmmaker to base a movie on their own harrowing encounter with a terminal cancer diagnosis that eventually led to a nine-year hiatus from their craft. With Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sodahl doesn’t just make a comeback, but she also delivers a no-holds-barred accounting of a relationship of an unmarried couple with six children of various ages between them whose romantic inclinations have grown stale as the pair focus on their own creative pursuits.

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THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Some tattoos have such design and craftsmanship, they’re works of art. But what happens when a tattoo transforms someone into living artwork, effectively dehumanizing them? The Man Who Sold His Skin, an Oscar-nominee for Best International Feature Film, puts this dilemma on display through Sam, a Syrian refugee who consents to a full-back tattoo of a visa, then finds that this literal stamp of freedom confines him in other ways.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Fennell and Zhao make AMPAS history – Brandy McDonnell reports

Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao and Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell are now part of Academy Awards history. For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated two women in the directing category, with Zhao and Fennell picking up nods in the coveted category.

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NIGHT OF THE KINGS – Review by Carol Cling

Never underestimate the power of a spellbinding story. It just might save your life. Ask Scheherazade, whose enchanting Arabian Nights tales lasted a thousand and one nights. Or ask Roman, whose life — like Scheherazade’s — depends on keeping the king captivated by the stories he spins. That’s the premise of Night of the Kings, an unusual but effective mix of visual fantasy and stark prison drama from writer-director Philippe LaCote.

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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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Kalia Love Jones on Filmmaking and THE POWER OF HOPE – April Neale interviews

With her first film, The Power of Hope, 14-year-old filmmaker Kalia Love Jones becomes the youngest director to qualify for Academy Award consideration via her animated short’s selection by the Pan African Film and Arts Festival and several other Oscar-qualifying festivals. Love Jones attributes her inspiration specifically to Michele Obama, and she want to inspire others with the hopeful message in her film.

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