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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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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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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Megan Mylan on SIMPLE AS WATER – Mythily Ramachandran interviews (Guest Post, Exclusive)

Academy award winner Megan Mylan’s latest documentary, Simple As Water, narrates the plight of four families ripped apart by the Syrian war. The film was shortlisted for an Oscar but did not make it to the final list of nominees. Mylan, who received an Oscar for her documentary, Smile Pinki, and an Independent Spirit Award for her Lost Boys of Sudan speaks with Mythily Ramachandran about filming Simple As Water and families in exile.

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SWEAT – Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

Few films have pictured the Social Media phenomenon as empathically as Sweat. Thanks to a powerhouse performance by Magdalena Koleśnik, Sweatallows for a very nuanced and kind look at a profession that has been demonized and mocked. Watching movies about people staring at their phones is usually about as stimulating as watching grass grow. This is not the case here. Koleśnik’s energy is contagious.

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NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN – Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

There is a spellbinding sense of fairy tale realism to Małgorzata Szumowska’s latest, her first co-directed film with long-time cinematographer Michał Englert. Never Gonna Snow Again is loaded with social commentary – it’s wicked and quietly wonderful.

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Rohena Gera on SIR – Mythily Ramachandran interviews (Guest Post)

Director Rohena Gera’s debut feature film, Sir broke all stereotypes of Indian cinema with a story that explored the changing dynamics of a relationship between Ashwin-a affluent young man and Ratna-his live-in domestic help. In India where caste and position in society determines relationships, Sir was much appreciated for its sincerity and honest narration. Sir premiered in the Critics Week at Cannes (2017) winning acclaim. Gera became the first woman filmmaker to receive the Gan Foundation award as well as a prize at the Cannes Critics Week.

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Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh on Making WRITING WITH FIRE – Mythily Ramachandran interviews (Exclusive Guest Post)

Debutant directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh received two awards-Audience award and Special Jury award at Sundance Film Festival 2021 for their documentary Writing With Fire, chronicling the rise of ‘Khabar Lahariya’ (Waves of news), India’s only newspaper run by Dalit (considered untouchables) women and which recently went digital. em>WWF is produced by Black Ticket Films, a production company cofounded by Thomas and Ghosh and recognized for its award winning shorts including Timbaktu that received the Indian national award in 2012 as Best Environmental film. Mythily Ramachandran talks to the duo on the making of this documentary.

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