THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: ‘Zookeeper’s Wife’ director Niki Caro and star Jessica Chastain challenge the status quo, Margot Robbie picked for revisionist Robin Hood tale, Ivy Film Festival showcasing women composers

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Star Jessica Chastain, left, and director Niki Caro work on the set of "The Zookeeper's Wife." Focus Features photo

Star Jessica Chastain, left, and director Niki Caro work on the set of “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” Focus Features photo

As previously reported, Disney has waltzed off with multiple box-office records with “Beauty and the Beast,” the Mouse House’s latest live-action reimagining of  one of its classic animated movies.

Not only will “Whale Rider” helmer Niki Caro direct the live-action remake of the Mouse House’s 1998 animated adventure “Mulan,” but in the process, she also will become just the fourth woman to solo direct a movie with a budget north of $100 million.

She will join just Kathryn Bigelow (2002’s “K-19: The Widowmaker”), Patty Jenkins (June’s “Wonder Woman”) and Ava DuVernay (next year’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” also from Disney) in the $100 million club, according to Time.

“That’s depressing, isn’t it? As a statistic, that’s really depressing,” she told Time. “Big ups to Disney for the fact that their last two movies are directed by women.”

“Me and Ava,” she promised, “we’ll just kick that door wide open so more can follow.”

Caro’s new movie, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” which stars Jessica Chastain as real-life Polish hero Antonina Żabiński, who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust, opens in theaters Friday, March 31.

Jessica Chastain picks characters that ‘challenge the status quo’

In an interview about “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Miss Sloan”) said she prefers to take on cinematic characters who aren’t necessarily strong but are capable of challenging the current way of the world.

“I look for characters that challenge the status quo,” Chastain told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I know not every woman is a strong woman. But I am definitely inspired by those characters who push against the box society has put them in.”

“I’m OK pushing against the constraints society expects me to be in,” she added “I think I’ve always been that way. I’d speak up when something wasn’t right or honorable.”

When offered the role in “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” Chastain said she was impressed with the script, which Angela Workman (“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”) adapted from Diane Ackerman’s book.

“The story — it’s world history,” Chastain said. “In American schools you don’t learn about women in history. It was an honor for me to portray this incredible female.”

"The Legend of Tarzan" star Margot Robbie will take on another period piece when she stars in the revisionist Robin Hood story "Marian." Warner Bros. Pictures photo

“The Legend of Tarzan” star Margot Robbie will take on another period piece when she stars in the revisionist Robin Hood story “Marian.” Warner Bros. Pictures photo

Margot Robbie to star in revisionist Robin Hood

“Suicide Squad” and “The Legend of Tarzan” star Margot Robbie has been cast in the title role of the revisionist Robin Hood project “Marian,” according to Deadline.

Scripted by newcomer Pete Barry, here is the synopsis: After a conspiracy to conquer England in which the love of her life Robin Hood dies before her eyes, Marian picks up the cause to lead her people into a pivotal war. She comes to power, charging into a battle that will not only decide the fate of the kingdom but will see her don the mantle of the man she loved. In the process, she rises as a legend herself.

Sony snagged the project for producers Donald De Line and Amy Pascal, and Robbie’s shingle LuckyChap Entertainment is also producing, with Rock Shaink, through his Romark Entertainment.

Ivy Film Festival to showcase women composers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –  Now in its 16th year, the Ivy Film Festival, among the largest entirely student-run film festivals in the world, taking place April 10-16 at Brown University, announces its lineup with keynote appearances by Ezra Edelman, Barry Levinson and M. Night Shyamalan.

The festival’s mission is to showcase student filmmakers from around the world and generate a dialogue between renowned film professionals and the next generation of creative talents, according to a news release.

Among the highlights of this year’s Ivy Film Festival will be the April 14 panel “She Scores: Women in the Musical & Cinematic Arts,” offering students first-hand insight into how composers and music supervisors work to incorporate music into a visual medium. The panel will highlight the contributions of women composers, who are underrepresented in the film scoring industry. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, over the past three years, only 1 to 2 percent of composers working on the top 250 films at the box office were women. The panel will feature composers Germaine Franco (“Dope”) and Kathryn Bostic (“Dear White People”) and music supervisor and consultant Anna Granucci (“Whiplash”).

As one of the first student-run film festivals in the world to pioneer an initiative geared towards virtual reality, the festival will present April 11 the Planned Parenthood executive-produced “Across the Line,” an immersive VR experience that combines 360-degree video and computer generated imaging to put viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a legal abortion.

“IFF chose to include ‘Across the Line’ in its program because we believe VR offers a unique and powerful medium to foster empathy and reflect the reality that many women in America face today. We hope to inform and advance knowledge about a reality that continues to be at the center of so much division in our country,” said Ivy Film Festival’s directing team in a statement.

For more information on Ivy Film Festival, go to

Best known for her role as a knight in "Game of Thrones," Gwendoline Christie is reportedly in negotiations to play a bounty hunter in the sci-fi thriller "Darkest Minds." HBO photo

Best known for her role as a knight in “Game of Thrones,” Gwendoline Christie is reportedly in negotiations to play a bounty hunter in the sci-fi thriller “Darkest Minds.” HBO photo

Gwendoline Christie delving into ‘Darkest Minds’

Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) is in negotiations to join the cast of “Darkest Minds,” Fox’s adaptation of the young-adult trilogy by Alexandra Bracken, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, best known for helming the “Kung Fu Panda” movies, is making her live-action directorial debut with the teen sci-fi project that is being produced by Shawn Levy under his 21 Laps shingle.

Set in an America where a pandemic has killed off most of the children and teenagers, the sci-fi thriller centers on superpowered teens who are taken from their families and sent to internment camps. Amanda Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) is starring as Ruby Daly, a 16-year-old with telekinetic powers who escapes her camp and joins a group of teens on the run from the government.

Christie is set to play a bounty hunter who happily and viciously tracks down fugitive teens. Mandy Moore (TV’s “This Is Us”) also has signed on for the film.


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