Pamela Powell 63 posts

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Lily Zepeda doc ‘Mr. Toilet’ raises awareness for proper sanitation

“Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man”—the title itself is enough to catch your attention, but there’s so much more than meets the eye in this loaded documentary about one man’s endeavor to educate and find ways of providing safe, clean environments in which to do your daily duties.  Documentary filmmaker Lily Zepeda, over the course […]

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Minhal Baig tells story of “hyphenate” teenager with Pakistani-American ‘Hala’

The coming-of-age story, “Hala,” written and directed by Chicago-born Minhal Baig, looks at teenage life through a “hyphenate’s” lens; a Pakistani-American.  Starring Geraldine Viswanathan (“Blockers”), a teen navigates life in two worlds; home and school, attempting to balance both as she sees her parents for who they are and attempts to grow and find her […]

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Female filmmakers making overall ‘Best’ lists

The winners of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have been announced and as the dust is now settled, we can sift through the hype and clearly see the outcome at this year’s fest.  Yes, the stars were shining bright along the red carpet and there’s certainly a bit of Oscar buzz already, but […]

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TIFF inches closer to gender parity

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will take place September 5-15, presenting more than 330 films: 36 percent are directed, co-directed, and/or created by women; a slight increase from last year’s representation of 35 percent. TIFF will showcase world premieres and festival favorites alike at this year’s event comprising 84 feature films directed by […]

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‘The Farewell’ director hopes demand for diverse storytelling isn’t temporary

The Farewell stars Awkwafina as Billi, a young adult struggling with life’s goals when she learns that her grandmother is dying of cancer. The family travels back to their homeland of China under false pretenses of a family wedding so they can gather to say goodbye to Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).  Based on writer/director Lulu […]

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‘Ophelia’ director Claire McCarthy talks contemporary take on Hamlet

Director Claire McCarthy who earlier this month was named as one of 10 “directors to watch” in Variety Magazine, sat down to talk with me at the Sundance Film Festival just days before the world premiere of her film Ophelia.  

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CherryPicks founder on new film, rating system for female critics

Being Frank traveled the film festival circuit for quite some time before getting its final edits and now a release across the country.  The film stars Jim Gaffigan, a favorite stand up comic whose acting career is bursting at the seems right now, as Frank, a man who attempts to balance life with two families; […]

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Chicago Critics Film Festival celebrates women directors

The 2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival raises the curtain on 24 highly-anticipated new films running May 17-23 at the Music Box Theatre. Nine of these 24 feature films are written and/or directed by women, holding steady at 37.5 percent from last year’s representation of female filmmakers.   It’s a strong group of films, many of […]

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Female filmmakers best of the fest at Tribeca

It wasn’t difficult to find female-written and/or directed films this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.  In fact, my time to attend the fest was limited to three days, so I just went to the films that fit my schedule and lo and behold, 45 percent of these films were either written and/or directed by […]

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Female filmmakers best of the fest at Tribeca

It wasn’t difficult to find female-written and/or directed films this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.  In fact, my time to attend the fest was limited to three days, so I just went to the films that fit my schedule and lo and behold, 45 percent of these films were either written and/or directed by […]

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Director Clermont-Tonnerre makes room for second chances in ‘The Mustang’

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre creates “The Mustang,” a revelatory film about a hopeless, isolated incarcerated man (Mattias Shoenaerts) who enters into a horse training rehabilitation program.  Gorgeously shot, this evocative and soulful film delves into our penal system as it draws parallel lines between all creatures. Premiering at Sundance Film Festival, “The Mustang” is now playing […]

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SXSW Grand Jury winner ‘Alice’ questions concepts of marriage, motherhood

*Updated for March 12, 2019: “Alice” wins SXSW Narrative Feature Competition Award-winning writer and director Josephine Mackerras’ first feature film, “Alice,” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival recently. Living around the world, this NYU educated filmmaker delves deeply into how one woman, a wife and mother, reacts to her husband’s double life, leaving them in debt […]

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New romantic comedy festival to debut in LA

Nothing says romance more than Valentine’s Day…except for maybe a good romantic comedy!  Thanks to the efforts of Miraya Berke, the first ever Rom Com Fest will be taking place on June 20-23 in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent (251 S. Main St.) to not only celebrate rom-coms, but to shed a new light […]

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Miranda Tapsell gets the rom-com right with ‘Top End Wedding’

The Rom-Com genre is certainly an entity unto itself, but to do it right is no easy task. Top End Wedding, co-written by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler, is a prime example of how to do it right.  This exceptionally well-balanced, funny, dramatic and heartfelt film takes place in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern […]

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Penny Lane pushes boundaries, finds humor in ‘Hail Satan?’

Boldly daring filmmaker Penny Lane returns to Sundance with her third feature-length documentary Hail Satan? The title itself is certainly eye-catching.  And quite surprisingly, after seeing this film, I was shocked by my changed perspective about the topic.  In fact, I dare you not to have a different outlook, too. Lane, a self-proclaimed rebel herself, delves […]

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Sundance shines on women

The Sundance Film Festival continues to be a frontrunner in paving a path for new voices and the 2019 festival is no exception to this observation.  With nearly half of the director seats occupied by women (45 percent) and more than 70 percent of the awards presented to women, it’s obvious that women are finally […]

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DOC NYC: Sarah Teale & Lisa F. Jackson talk ‘Patrimonio’

Each and every year at DOC NYC Film Festival, the films are extraordinary, providing insight and knowledge about topics, many of which were previously unknown. This year, we have a classic David versus Goliath tale in Baja Sur, Mexico thanks to the dedicated talent and determination of filmmakers Sarah Teale and Lisa F. Jackson with […]

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DOC NYC: ‘Care to Laugh’ shows humor, hope of caregivers

In Care to Laugh, comic Jesus Trejo balances his life each and every day as he cares for his elderly parents and perfects his art as a comedian in Los Angeles. Care to Laugh will play at the DOC NYC Film Festival on Wednesday, Nov. 14 and Thursday, Nov. 15.

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‘What They Had’ resonates on deeply personal level

What They Had, starring Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner and Robert Forster premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has continued on the festival circuit over the last year.

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Director Lisa D’Apolito screens moving doc for Gilda’s Club

Love, Gilda, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is now available to stream instantly on several digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, and Comcast. The film depicts the life of one of the most iconic and influential comedians to grace the television airways since Lucille Ball.  

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‘Pick of the Litter’ team talks journey of making guide dog documentary

The documentarian team of Dana Nachman and Don Hardy have collaborated for their fourth time with Pick of the Litter to give viewers an inside look at how a litter of pups vie for the opportunity to become a guide dog for the blind.

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Chicago International Film Festival increases list of female directors

With more than 6,000 film entries, 36 out of 123 chosen feature films are directed by women, just under 30 percent. In the shorts category, it’s an equal representation of 50 percent.  

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Inclusive Middle Coast Film Festival finds new home in Chicago

The Middle Coast Film Festival, now in its fifth year, has new surroundings. Moving from Bloomington, Indiana to Chicago’s Davis Theater, the MCFF will screen approximately 60 films, including five feature films September 21- 23, 2018.

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McKenzie Chinn to debut ‘Olympia’ at Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival just announced its “sneak peek” for the 2019 lineup and Chicago area filmmaker McKenzie Chinn’s debut feature film Olympia will be featured in the “City & State” category.  Chinn creates an undeniably compelling story inspired by her own question of what it means to make the transition into true adulthood.  

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‘Skate Kitchen’ director Crystal Moselle is part of the shift for women filmmakers

Crystal Moselle, whose 2015 documentary film The Wolfpack, stunned viewers around the world, has taken her keen sense of people, drama and observation to create a new, fictional narrative film, Skate Kitchen, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

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‘Puzzle’ director Turtletaub talks female-centric film, collaborating genders

 Academy-Award-nominated director and producer Marc Turtletaub (Loving, Little Miss Sunshine) takes the director’s chair for this film as he deeply connected with this female-centric character-driven piece.

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‘Boundaries’ director Shana Feste talks father-daughter road trip film

Known for the 2010 drama Country Strong, Feste wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical film filled with humor, heart and an honest portrayal of the complex relationships. In an in-depth interview with FF2 Media, she explains why she made the film, the message behind it and her perception of how things are changing for women in the filmmaking industry. (Warning: Spoilers)

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‘This is Home’ refugee doc sets timely debut on EPIX channel

Documentary filmmaker Alexandra Shiva’s latest film This Is Home: A Refugee Story, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, couldn’t be more timely. Addressing the process of refugees attempting to integrate and assimilate into life here in the United States,  Shiva captures the day-to-day struggles of four Syrian families. This candid and poignant story allows you to almost walk in their shoes, understanding the heartbreaking resilience of these people attempting to not just survive, but thrive. I had the opportunity to discuss Shiva’s background and the inspiration behind telling this important story.

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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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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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