Currently Browsing: May 2018

An appreciation of Carla Simón’s ‘Summer 1993’

It’s so impressive to me, the delicacy with which filmmaker Carla Simón presents these facts of the human heart. In Summer 1993, people hardly talk about anything directly: they feel things out, they rely on the constancy of each other’s company that allows for problems never to be fully acknowledged.

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Abbie Reese documents life and sacrifice of cloistered nuns in ‘Chosen’

Director Abbie Reese, an Illinois native and dual citizen of Luxembourg, documents Rockford’s Corpus Christi Monastery in her debut film Chosen: Custody of the Eye. The film unveils the hidden lives of the monastery nuns and their sacrifice, purity, divine life and commitment to God.

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Reclaim the Frame: How a British initiative is championing female filmmakers

In the U.K., Birds Eye View (BEV) has been spotlighting and celebrating films by women for 15 years and continues to do so with the recent launch of Reclaim The Frame. We spoke with curator and program producer Jo Duncombe about this fantastic new initiative, the diversity of the female gaze and how a grassroots network of influencers could very well be the answer to shaping the future of women in film.   

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Lauryn Kahn’s girls trip inspires new comedy ‘Ibiza’

Summer has arrived and it’s that time of year for travel. But if you’re using this holiday weekend for a staycation, Netflix’s Ibiza is just in time. The new film about a business trip for Harper (lead Gillian Jacobs) turning into a girls trip with her two best friends (Vanessa Bayer and Phoebe Robinson) comes from Lauryn Kahn; It is based on a trip she took to Spain that she financed with the sale of her first screenplay. Although Kahn has been in the business for more than a decade, including writing and directing shorts for Funny or Die, this is the first screenplay she has had produced and released. Appropriately enough, Ibiza is bit of return home for Kahn who selected fellow Funny or Die alumni Alex Richanbach to direct the film (it is also produced by her former boss and mentor, Adam McKay).

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Carla Simón’s debut film ‘Summer 1993’ a family affair

In Summer 1993, writer-director Carla Simón tells her own story of grief and adoption.

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Where are all the female Italian filmmakers?

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018 brings 17 contemporary Italian films to New York City’s Lincoln Center from May 31 to June 6,. However, the number of women filmmakers represented on the list is not ‘molto bene’ (very good). Why?

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‘Book Club’ co-writer Erin Simms talks ‘comedic ninja’ cast

Book Club opens today and co-writer Erin Simms took time out of her “nerve-wracking” day to chat with me about the making of this humorous and light-hearted romantic comedy geared toward women over 50. (Yes, we exist!) The film depicts four lifelong friends, Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenbergen) who meet monthly to discuss a book. Vivian, the wild child of the group, throws them a curve ball as she presents the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The discussion and reactions it creates are nothing short of priceless, reminding us that while we all get older, our hearts never do.

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Women dominate specialty box office

With Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary RBG in the top 10 (and playing in only 180 theaters nationwide), films directed by women are thriving at the specialty box office.

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Onscreen Queens: Gender disparity in royal biopics

Prince Harry’s May 19 royal wedding to American actress and activist Meghan Markle is dominating mainstream media and giving royal enthusiasts an excuse to revisit their favorite English stories in preparation for the big day. Though Netflix’s excellent first two seasons of The Crown would be a great place to start, there have been a number of outstanding films made about European royal families.

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Female directors stand out at 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival

The curtains have drawn on the sixth annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, a festival which ran from May 4-10 and featured a respectable percentage of women writers and directors, 37.5 percent. Of these films, both documentaries and features, there are a few that truly stood out among the rest.  Here are my top three picks of this year’s outstanding programming at the CCFF.

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‘Troll Inc.’ sheds light on malicious Internet users

Director George Russell’s Troll Inc. is available on VOD May 22, putting the focus on Internet trolls who have become commonplace in today’s “fake news”-fueled media market. The foundation of the documentary is an extended interview with Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, a well-known hacker who was charged with multiple computer crime felonies and is known for […]

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Director Elissa Down tells coming-of-age story with American film debut ‘Honor List’

Focusing on the immediate aftermath of title character Honor (Arden Cho), her three lifelong friends (Rienks, Karrueche Tran, and Sasha Tierterse) attempt to live out her three wishes, including take revenge on the school bullies. Australian director Elissa Down (The Black Balloon) brings a slightly outsider view on this story of a very American high school experience, a subject we discuss in our recent interview about her American film debut.

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Sophie Lorain’s ‘Slut in a Good Way’ re-imagines the teen sex comedy

The French language film tells the story of three lifelong girlfriends, Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard), Megane (Romane Denis) and Aube (Rose Adam), who take jobs at the “Toy Depot” where a plethora of teenage boys work alongside them.

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Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel’s films showcased at Siskel Center

Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center showcased the work of Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel from April 20 to May 1, screening her first three features in a film series, “The Salta Trilogy” (a nod to her Salta origins, a hilly northern province of Argentina).

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‘State Like Sleep’ director talks grief, filming in Brussels and appeal of Michael Shannon

After producing multiple shorts, documentaries and experimental films, Meredith Danluck is the latest director to explore these ideas with her feature-narrative debut State Like Sleep.

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‘Yellow is Forbidden’ peeks into fashion house of Guo Pei

After her grand, hand-embroidered gown was worn by singer Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala, Pei became the designer to watch in the fashion world, and perfect subject for the Tribeca documentary Yellow is Forbidden. New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly (2015’s The Flickering Truth) can appreciate the artistic drive which motivates her subject, even if as we discussed, she isn’t a follower of the industry herself.

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‘Netizens’ pleads with law enforcement to take online harassment seriously

Netizen is one of the most timely documentaries screened at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, tackling sexual harassment as it occurs on the internet.

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Actress Ashley Bell steps behind the camera for ‘Love and Bananas’

Four years later, Bell is still acting (including last year’s Novitiate) and adds director to her resume with the feature Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story.

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Women take back the mic in new hashtag campaign

In honor of Michelle Wolf’s comments at the White House Correspondents Dinner, FF2 Media is launching the new hashtag #WomenTakeBackTheMic

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Norah Shapiro’s ‘Time for Ilhan’ follows first Somali-American elected to legislation

Ilhan Omar was the first Somali-American elected to legislation. The Somali immigrant has served as a community organizer in Minneapolis for years before deciding to run for the House of Representatives, a journey captured by director Norah Shapiro for her documentary Time for Ilhan.

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