MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 28, 2020: PREMATURE

Sensitive and soulful, Rashaad Ernesto Green’s Premature is a poignant portrait of first love, from the thrill of the early days to the agony of conflict and parting. Set in Harlem, it centers on 17-year-old Ayanna (Zora Howard, who also co-wrote the script with Green), who falls for older music producer Isaiah (Joshua Boone) the summer before she’s planning to leave NYC for Bucknell University.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 21, 2020: THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

Help comes from unexpected places when needed the most in The Kindness of Strangers, Lone Scherfig’s heartfelt drama about a handful of people whose lives intersect amid the bustling anonymity of New York City. Centering on the plight of a woman who flees an abusive marriage with her two young sons, the narrative shows how circumstances — and life itself — can turn on a dime.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 14, 2020: ORDINARY LOVE

There’s a reason why more movies are about weddings than marriages. It’s easier to tie up a story with bells ringing and happy “I do”s than to accurately depict the beautifully complicated thing that is a long-term committed relationship — especially the kind of real, relatable, warts-and-all relationship many people actually live out. But Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s Ordinary Love accomplishes that feat with intimate grace, thanks to honest storytelling and heartbreaking performances by Liam Neeson and Leslie Manville.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 7, 2020: A SIMPLE WEDDING

If you were to blend My Big Fat Greek Wedding with The Big Sick — and add a dash of Crazy Rich Asians — you might end up with something close to A Simple Wedding, Sara Zandieh‘s entertaining romcom about a thirtysomething Iranian American woman who wants to find love on her own terms.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 31, 2020: THE ASSISTANT

Not all #MeToo moments are shocking or dramatic; one of the most terrible things about the culture that’s fostered so much abuse, fear, and doubt is its very insidiousness. All of that is made quite clear in The Assistant, writer/director Kitty Green’s eye-opening drama about a day in the life of an entry-level Hollywood hopeful.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 24, 2020: BEANPOLE

Settings don’t get much bleaker than 1945 Leningrad, decimated after the ravages of WWII, but even the darkest times have moments of intimacy and beauty in Kantemir Balagov’s spare, unflinching Russian drama Beanpole. The film tells the story of the intense, complicated friendship between gangly, awkward Iya — the titular Beanpole — and impulsive, yearning Masha as they struggle to find happiness in a post-war world.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 17, 2020: CHICHINETTE: THE ACCIDENTAL SPY

Telling your story — bearing witness to your own life and those of the people you’ve loved (and lost) — is one of the most powerful things someone can do, especially when they’ve lived through historic events. But it’s not always easy, as we learn from watching Nicola Hens’ engaging documentary Chichinette: The Accidental Spy about former WWII spy Marthe Cohn, who, now nearly 100 years old, still travels the world sharing her experiences with others.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: January 10, 2020: THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES

What’s not to love about a passionate, confident Canadian scholar who fought her way to Africa in the 1950s to study the animals she’d loved since she was a toddler? As chronicled in Alison Reid’s engaging documentary The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, the story of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg is full of warmth, intelligence, and — above all — spunk.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 3, 2020: SPEED OF LIFE

What if, instead of being a space oddity, the infinitely creative David Bowie was actually a time and space oddity, and his passing literally ripped a hole in the universe? That’s the intriguing premise of Liz Manashil’s charming indie dramedy Speed of Life, which centers on an avid Bowie fan named June whose life takes a very unexpected twist after Bowie’s untimely death in 2016.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 27, 2019: The Best of A Banner Year

Late December is a good time for a Movie of the Week recap: 38 of our selections have been femme-helmed, and all are about women — biodocs about influential game-changers like Tracy Edwards, Toni Morrison and Dr. Ruth, as well as narratives about complex fictional power players such as Claire in The Nightingale, Molly in Late Night and Orna in Working Woman. With inspiring stories about women’s struggles for equality and other key issues, AWFJ’s #MOTW roster shows the range and high level of achievement of women working in film. Here Team #MOTW presents our favorites. Wonder what’s in store?

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