WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: ‘Jessica Jones’ boasts all female directors for Season 2, Kristen Wiig to play ‘Wonder Woman 2’ villain the Cheetah, ‘The Breadwinner’ to be shown today at UN event

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Director Deborah Chow and star Krysten Ritter appear on the set of of the second season of "Jessica Jones." Netflix photo

Director Deborah Chow and star Krysten Ritter appear on the set of of the second season of “Jessica Jones.” Netflix photo

When the Marvel series “Jessica Jones” launched its second season on Netflix, Krysten Ritter’s titular antihero wasn’t the only awesome woman fans could watch work.

For Season 2, the series recruited female directors to helm all 13 episodes. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg told Entertainment Weekly that she initially proposed just bringing on more female directors, and she was thrilled when Netflix’s vice president in charge of original series, Allie Goss, made a counter-offer: “Why not all 13?”

Rosenberg (“Dexter,” “The Twilight Saga” movies) also told EW that finding a baker’s dozen women to direct all the episodes wasn’t hard.

“There’s a lot of highly qualified and talented female directors out there, so what we did was simply open the door. It wasn’t like we had to give a bunch of women their first break. It was just being inclusive,” she said.

“It wasn’t like I was doing them any favors,” she continued. “They were doing us a favor by joining our roster. And, you know, we’re looking forward to the day when we’re not even having this conversation, we’re just talking about them as qualified people who happen to be women. Hopefully, we’re there someday, but now? Not yet.”

Indeed, as previously reported, a study by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that in 2017′s top 250 films, women comprised 11 percent of the directors, which is up 4 percentage points from the previous year but equivalent to the number recorded in 2000 – meaning not much progress has been made since. With Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman,” Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” and Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” women helmed some of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2017 – and in the case of “Wonder Woman,” one of the most commercially successful – but female directors are still woefully underrepresented and thus don’t get as many opportunities to take on prime gigs.

Not only has “Jessica Jones” given more women the chance to direct, the Marvel-Netflix series has touted the individual helmers and their accomplishments via Twitter.

Kristen Wiig appears in a scene from the 2015 film "The Martian." Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. photo

Kristen Wiig appears in a scene from the 2015 film “The Martian.” Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. photo

Kristen Wiig to play ‘Wonder Woman 2’ villain the Cheetah

Kristen Wiig will face off against Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman 2,” the sequel to 2017’s groundbreaking commercial and critical hit “Wonder Woman.”

“So excited to confirm the most thrilling news. Yes! It’s true! So incredibly lucky to welcome the sensationally talented Kristen Wiig to our Wonder Woman family. Can’t wait to finally work with one of my favorites. And SO excited by what we have planned. #Cheetah!!!” Patty Jenkins, who helmed “Wonder Woman” and is returning to the director’s chair sequel, posted last week on Twitter.

According to Vulture, the Cheetah is “one of the all-time most iconic Wonder Woman foes.” As the name indicates, she is a were-cheetah who typically looks like an ordinary woman but has the ability to morph into a human-cheetah hybrid, with increased speed, strength, and agility.

The alter-ego that is mostly likely to make it to the film, according to Vulture, is that of Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, superstar archaeologist who possesses aristocratic wealth and a dry wit.

In the comics, sometimes she’s in control of her shape-shifting power, but other times she isn’t. In many depictions, she serves an ancient god named Urzkartaga, to whom she sold her soul in a quest for immortality and supernatural abilities.

Wiig is best known for her comedic turns in “Bridesmaids” and on “Saturday Night Live,” but she has proven adept in more dramatic roles in “The Skeleton Twins,” “The Martian,” “Downsizing” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” It will be interesting to see what she can do as a supervillain and foil to Gadot’s mighty and charismatic Wonder Woman.

“I’m SO excited welcome on board Kristen! This is going to be WONDERful!” Gadot posted on Twitter.

Fun fact: Wiig and Gadot both had supporting roles in the 2010 Steve Carell-Tina Fey movie “Date Night.”

In Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Parvana (voice of Saara Chaudry) and Shauzia (Soma Chhaya) pass as boys in the animated film "The Breadwinner." Cartoon Saloon photo

In Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Parvana (voice of Saara Chaudry) and Shauzia (Soma Chhaya) pass as boys in the animated film “The Breadwinner.” Cartoon Saloon photo

‘The Breadwinner’ to be shown at UN event

The Oscar-nominated animated film “The Breadwinner,” screened at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women sold-out event “Women’s Rights Impact Cinema: Moving from Empathy to Action” at The Aqua Room in New York City.

The screening is being presented by Women’s Voices Now, a nonprofit organization that uses the medium of film to advocate for global women’s rights. The event is co-hosted by the Censored Women’s Film Festival, a traveling global film festival bringing attention to the abuse of women in the name of religion and culture, that elevates the voices of marginalized and silenced filmmakers.

A moderated discussion will take place after today’s film screening with activists who will share their work in challenging radicalism, and working to heal victims of violence, especially those from war-ridden countries including Afghanistan. They will enjoin the audience to contribute their voice and resources to the people living among us who are fighting political Islam, or trying to rebuild their lives here in North America after having escaped conflict.

As I noted on my BAM’s Blog, “The Breadwinner,” which was executive produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin and Angelina Jolie, was one of my top 10 movies of 2017.

After co-directing the fantastical Oscar-nominated animated epic “The Secret of Kells,” Nora Twomey, co-founder of the overachieving Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, made her solo feature film directorial debut with her sobering yet stirring adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ best-selling children’s novel.

The novel and cinematic adaptation are set in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2001, as the city has fallen under oppressive Taliban rule. The gorgeously rendered film follows the bright and spirited Parvana (Saara Chaudry), an 11-year-old girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can provide for her mother, older sister and baby brother after her father is unjustly sent to prison.

The Breadwinner,” which won Best Animated Feature – Independent at the Annie Awards, was released last week on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, in partnership with animation distributor GKIDS. The film’s lead character, Parvana, was awarded the 1017 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Animated Female Character.


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