SPOTLIGHT July 2023: Jennifer Esposito, Actress, Baker, Teacher, Director of FRESH KILLS

Fresh Kills isn’t at all autobiographical, yet it’s all me, says first time writer/director Jennifer Esposito. “I did take pieces of people I grew up around and I used the essence of where I grew up to inform the characters’ world, but every character has some part of me in them. Staten Island, where I grew up and where the film takes place, felt very repressed and claustrophobic to me so that really influenced me when writing. The essence of the film is simple – it’s finding a voice in a world that tells you not to have one and I’ve felt that way my entire life.”

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BREAKING THE NEWS (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Breaking the News captures the time during which the staff of The 19th* covered the news that was happening around them that was being ignored in mainstream media, thereby changing the narrative around important topics and issues of race and gender. A now expanded The 19th* is still doing all that, with a bigger staff and better budget, but these filmmakers were there at the beginning. That makes this film as historically important as the work that The 19th* has done and continues to do.

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MAESTRA (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The feature directing debut by producer Maggie Contreras (Gilbert), Maestra follows five female conductors from around the world as they prepare for and compete in La Maestra, the world’s only competition for female conductors. Held at the Philharmonie de Paris, the contest whittles fourteen competitors from 202 applicants from fifty countries, reducing them further to six semifinalists, then three finalists and a winner.

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DEEP SEA (Tribeca 2023) Review by Leslie Combemale

CG artist and animation director Tian Xiaopeng spent seven years on Deep Sea and almost 1500 people worked to create this film, which is meant for audiences to experience like a dream. Xiaopeng wanted to give the 3D animated Deep Sea traditional Chinese aesthetics, and was particularly inspired by the look of Chinese ink painting. He actually invented new techniques to mimic the ink painting art style. He definitely achieved his aim. Visually, the film is nothing short of exquisite.

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BREAKING THE NEWS (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Behind-the-scenes exchanges make Breaking the News a fascinating watch. The documentary covers three years in the life of The 19th*, an independent, nonprofit newsroom reporting on gender, politics, and policy, showing its growing pains from an online startup of about five employees during the COVID-19 pandemic to a diverse site of over 50 people currently. In the interim, it deepened its mission from providing a “destination news platform” just for women to empowering marginalized people, telling stories that mainstream media outlets tend to ignore.

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