17 items from 2017
Horror Channel has announced eight prime-time weekend film premieres for May, including the UK premieres of José Manuel Cravioto’s pulse-pounding thriller Bound to Vengeance and Mary Lambert’s evil-spirited gripper Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, along with network premieres for Don Mancini’s killer-dolls spin-off Seed of Chucky, starring Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly & Billy Boyd, Xavier Gen’s unsettling post-apocalyptic horror The Divide, the epic vampire-battling Daybreakers, starring Eithan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, Stephen Kay’s monster in the closet chiller Boogeyman, Jamie Blanks’ teen slasher Urban Legend and Ryuhei Kitamura’s mystery-man rampaging No One Lives.
Fri 5 May @ 21:00 – Boogeyman (2005) *Network Premiere
Tim (Barry Watson) is haunted by traumatic memories from his past, linked to the death of his father. Desperate to resolve his issues, he returns to the house where he grew up. But while Tim wants to convince himself the ghostly memories he carries are just a figment of his imagination, »
- Gary Collinson
City of Lights: City of Angeles. The largest French film festival in the world and one of the largest festivals in L.A.!
Colcoa French Film Festival, “9 Days of Premieres in Hollywood” takes place April 24 to May 2 in the prestigious theaters of the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood (3 theaters (600, 160 and 37 seats), a 210 capacity lounge and a 1,500 capacity lobby).
Colcoa is the acronym of “City of Light, City of Angels” the original name of an event celebrating relationships between filmmakers from two capital cities of cinema. In 2015, the festival’s name was officially changed to Colcoa French Film Festival. Colcoa was founded in 1997 by The Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique collaborative effort of the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association, the Writers Guild of America West, and France’s Society of Authors Composers and Publishers of Music (Sacem). Colcoa is also supported by l’Association »
- Sydney Levine
Keep up with the always-hopping film festival world with our weekly Film Festival Roundup column. Check out last week’s Roundup right here.
– Cardiff Animation Nights will be returning to run a dedicated animation strand at Cardiff Independent Film Festival (C.I.F.F.) for a second year this May. This year’s animation strand at C.I.F.F. will comprise three programs of animated short films in competition for the Best Animation Award, as well as an Animated Family Shorts program curated by renowned Cardiff-based studio Cloth Cat Animation, networking events, and an Animation Quiz run by the team at Skwigly Animation Magazine.
The competition program features animated short films from across Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia, including Mikey Hill’s The Orchestra, Anete Melece’s Analysis Paralysis, Chris Shepherd’s Johnno’s Dead, Ross Hogg’s Life Cycles and Alois Di Leo’s Way of Giants. »
- Kate Erbland
This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?
While female filmmakers waited for Judge Pamela Rymer to hand down a decision in the 1983 Directors Guild class-action suit against Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, alleging discrimination for not hiring women and ethnic minorities represented by the guild, there were positive signs of change in Hollywood.
In 1984, for the first time that almost anyone could remember, one needed two hands to count the number of feature films by women released in the U.S. market. One was Diane Kurys’ “Entre Nous” (1983), nominated for best foreign film at the Academy Awards in April 1984, making Kurys the second female director whose film was so honored.
Between 1950 and 1980, the number of movies directed by women in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) totaled 14. From 1984 to 1985 there were 12.
In 1984 many women were making their second features. Among them were Gillian Armstrong’s period drama “Mrs. Soffel,” Amy Heckerling’s gangster comedy “Johnny Dangerously,” Penelope Spheeris’ teenage-runaway saga “Suburbia,” and Amy Holden Jones’ romantic drama “Love Letters.” Martha Coolidge, beloved for “Valley Girl,” her 1983 debut, was on her third feature, “National Lampoon’s Joy of Sex.” With more women behind the movie camera in the United States than any time since the ’teens, it seemed that Hollywood was reopening the studio gates to women. Their movies featured women in lead roles.
The wave of optimism crested in 1985. Argentine director Maria Luisa Bemberg’s historical romance “Camila” (1984) was in contention for best foreign film. Susan Seidelman, an Nyu film-school grad who made a splash in 1983 with the indie “Smithereens,” released “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring “It Girl” Rosanna Arquette and Madonna, cast when the latter was a relative unknown. It was a runaway hit. Heckerling and Spheeris each released third features, respectively “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and “The Boys Next Door.” Coolidge released her fourth: “Real Genius,” a genuinely funny nerd comedy with a fully developed female character — and special effects.
Then came the crash.
In August 1985 Judge Rymer handed down her decision. While the class-action case was important and viable, Rymer ruled, she had to disqualify the DGA from leading the class due to a conflict of interest. White male members also competing for directing jobs dominated the guild, she said. Thus the DGA was in no position to represent the interests of its women and ethnic minority members. Out of exhaustion and lack of money, the Original Six, the group of female filmmakers that had first spurred the DGA to initiate the suit, did not pursue it any further.
As the DGA suit played out during the early 1980s, Hollywood’s business model was in flux. Studios abandoned the one-size-fits-all strategy of advertising a movie in general-interest publications and embraced segmented marketing — that is, making and marketing movies to a specific demographic. Fewer dollars were spent advertising movies in mainstream newspapers and more were spent on ads that ran during TV shows young males were said to watch. More and more, movies starred predominantly men and boys. Because actors had higher-profile roles, they could command higher salaries than actresses.
By dividing the market into sectors, studios divided the audience and the culture. Boys see movies about boys. Older people see movies about older people. Women see movies about women. Those in different demographics no longer watch the same stories.
In 1980, four of the 10 top box office stars were women: Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, and Barbra Streisand. In 1990 there was only one: Julia Roberts. According to 1990 statistics from the Screen Actors Guild, not only were actresses underpaid, but they were also “undercast”: 14 percent of the leading roles, and only 29 percent of all roles, went to women.
The “Indiana Jones” trilogy made in the 1980s reflected the progressively diminishing role of females in film during a decade when male action/adventures dominated the multiplex. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), the character Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) plays Indy’s helpmate. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), the Willie Scott character (Kate Capshaw) is helpless. And in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” archeologist Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) is the enemy.
Despite such trends, the late 1980s and 1990s proved to be boom years for female directors in Hollywood and Indiewood, as independent film is known. In 1987, Kathryn Bigelow, a onetime sculptor and graduate of Columbia University’s film program, made her second feature, the “vampire Western” “Near Dark.” And though Elaine May’s studio film “Ishtar” was almost universally panned upon release, it earned belated respect. Richard Brody of The New Yorker correctly described it as “an unjustly derided masterwork.” In 1987, six percent of films were directed by women, higher than at any time since 1916.
The percentage dropped in 1988, but that was a watershed year for female filmmakers. “Big,” a comedy from Penny Marshall (co-written by Anne Spielberg), was universally acclaimed. It was the first movie directed by a woman that surpassed $100 million at the box office. With the romantic comedy “Crossing Delancey,” Joan Micklin Silver returned to making big-screen fare, and her modest hit was well received. Also in 1988, Silver’s daughter, Marisa, made her second feature, “Permanent Record,” about teen suicide. “Salaam, Bombay!”, the first feature from Mira Nair, the India-born, Harvard-educated documentarian, was a best foreign film Oscar nominee.
The following year, “Look Who’s Talking” from Amy Heckerling likewise surpassed the $100 million mark for box office sales in the U.S. and made nearly $300 million worldwide. For the most part, though, heads of studios regarded Marshall’s and Heckerling’s box-office smashes as flukes. Two heads of production told me in 1991 that “movies by women don’t make money.” Nevertheless, it turned out to be a exceptional year for the quality and range of releases from women. And it shaped up to be a year when movies by female filmmakers did make serious money.
Some of the highlights of 1991: Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” an evocative portrait of generations of Gullah women off the South Carolina coast circa 1901; Jodie Foster’s “Little Man Tate,” about a child prodigy emotionally torn between his mother and a psychologist for gifted children; and Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” a sexy romance about a South Asian woman born in Uganda (played by then-newcomer Sarita Choudhry) in love with an African-American man (Denzel Washington). Both Kathryn Bigelow’s action film “Point Break” and Barbra Streisand’s psychological study “Prince of Tides” examined the emotional costs to men who struggle to prove their masculinity. Bigelow’s movie grossed $83 million and Streisand’s $110 million. (Adjusted for inflation, that’s $148 million and $196 million in today’s dollars.)
Not only can female filmmakers make movies that show a different side of men, but they also make movies that show different aspects of women. Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” (1992), about the All-American Girls Baseball Leagues during World War II, celebrates the athleticism (rather than the sexuality) of the female body. Nora Ephron’s “This is My Life,” her 1992 directorial debut about a single mom whose choice of comedy career affects her daughters, shows that career and motherhood need not be in conflict. Like Ephron’s film, Allison Anders’ “Gas Food Lodging” (also 1992) explores what happens when the children of single moms reconnect with biological fathers. Male directors were, and are not, making movies like these.
During the 1990s, almost every year brought a new evergreen made by a female filmmaker. In 1993 there were two. One was Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” a haunting allegory about a mute woman that struck a chord internationally. It earned $62 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, including one for best director, making Campion the third woman to be cited in this category. The other was Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” the comedic romance between two people who don’t meet in person until the last scene, which scored a $227 million box office.
“Sleepless” additionally introduced the questionable concept of the “chick flick” to a broader audience. This is a non-genre that has come to be defined as any movie that, according to the term’s proponents, women want to see and that men think they don’t want to watch — or any movie directed by a woman. The division between “chick flick” and its corollary, the “dick flick,” is a perhaps unintended consequence of target marketing, implying that movies represent a gender-linked proposition.
Almost overnight, the perception was created that movies predominantly featuring women, or “women’s interests,” or directed by women would shrivel the manhood of the male moviegoer. In 1994 the head of a major studio told me, without irony or shame, that “Women on the screen means no men in the audience.” When I asked him for data to back up his claim, he said he had it, but it was proprietary.
Despite such signs of cultural and corporate sexism, the 1990s were a good time to be a female filmmaker. In 1994, Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” was immediately embraced as a classic. Newcomer Darnell Martin’s “I Like it Like That,” an urban comedy about a working mother juggling job, marriage, and parenthood, earned positive reviews. And Rose Troche’s “Go Fish,” the first indie comedy about girl-on-girl courtship, marked a milestone for the burgeoning genre.
The following year, 16 films by women were in U.S. release, setting another record for that era. Many of them were comedies. There was Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” a droll version of Jane Austen’s “Emma” set at a Beverly Hills high school. There is Betty Thomas’ “The Brady Bunch Movie,” in which the former actress sets the characters of the 1970s TV hit in the 1990s to great comic effect. Distinctly not a comedy was Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” a science-fiction thriller about sex crimes, which lost money but became a cult favorite. At the 1996 Oscar ceremony, with “Antonia’s Line,” Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris became the first female filmmaker to direct the award-winning foreign film.
But apart from Bigelow and Mimi Leder, a director of episodic television who in 1997 directed “The Peacemaker” and in 1998 “Deep Impact,” female filmmakers were not making action films. For the most part women made comedies and human stories, movies with no explosions in the opening scene. Veteran filmmaker Martha Coolidge spoke for many women when she noted that the scripts the studios sent her were for comedies or family dramas. “About 90 percent of what comes my way are ten different kinds of breast cancer stories, ten kinds of divorce stories, and ten kinds of women-taking-care-of-their-fathers stories,” she said. “I do those. I care about those deeply. But one does want to do more.”
Female filmmakers were typecast in the way many actors and actresses have been, for the most part pigeonholed in family drama and comedy genres. For example, in 1997 actress Kasi Lemmons made her directorial debut with “Eve’s Bayou,” a haunting family drama, and Betty Thomas returned with the Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts.” In 1998, Ephron returned with the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.” Nancy Meyers, a long-time screenwriter, made her directorial debut with the family-friendly comedy “The Parent Trap,” and Brenda Chapman, a Disney animator, was one of three directors on “Prince of Egypt,” the animated story of Moses.
In 1999, three female filmmakers made rookie features unlike anything in American movies. Two were romantic dramas about teenage sexuality, the other an imaginative Shakespeare adaptation. Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, looked at how boys look at girls, subversively turning the female gaze on the male gaze. Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” dramatized the life story of Teena Brandon, who changed her name and gender to become Brandon Teena and fell victim to a hate crime.
Julie Taymor, the theater director who created “The Lion King” on stage, made her movie debut with “Titus,” an anachronistic version of the Shakespeare history play “Titus Andronicus,” underscoring its parallels to Italy under Mussolini.
At the end of the decade — and century — of the 11,000 filmmakers working both in television and film included in the Directors Guild of America, about 2,300 were women. While women made up 21 percent of the membership, they comprised only 9 percent of the filmmakers working in movies.
Most, including Martha Lauzen, a professor at San Diego State University and the head of the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, naturally assumed that in the new century the needle would move toward 50/50.
In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.
What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Women and Hollywood
Hopper Penn and Boardwalk Empire alumnae Paz de la Huerta have been set to star in Puppy Love, a dramatic comedy written and to be directed by Michael Maxxis, a music video and commercials director making his feature film debut. Michael Madsen, Donald Cerrone, Rosanna Arquette and Colleen Camp are also aboard. David Michaels, George Parra and Nicolette Saina are producing, and Sam Osman is executive producing and financing via Film Alberta Studios. Principal photography… »
Hopper Penn will star in the dramatic comedy “Puppy Love” alongside Paz de la Huerta, Michael Madsen, Ufc fighter Donald Cerrone, Rosanna Arquette and Colleen Camp. Shooting starts in Edmonton, Alberta, on March 20.
Music video director Michael Maxxis will direct from his own screenplay, based on a year in the life of Maxxis’ male cousin Morgan Fairchild (no relation to the actress) during which he falls in love with a homeless woman he meets through his older brother. The story follows him as he patrols the streets in his car, looking for and meeting up with her in a dysfunctional relationship that grows and develops into something kind, endearing and beautiful.
Elle King and Mickey Avalon will also appear in the movie dramatic comedy, in addition to an extended cameo by Wayne Newton. David Michaels will produce alongside George Parra and Nicolette Saina, with Sam Osman executive producing and financing under Film Alberta Studios. »
- Dave McNary
“A Critically Endangered Species” will have its world premiere on Sunday, March 12, at this year’s SXSW. The drama stars Lena Olin (“Chocolat,” “Remember Me”) as the lead and Rosanna Arquette (“The Whole Nine Yards,” “Roadies”).
Read More: ‘Let There Be Light’ Exclusive Trailer: SXSW Documentary Explores Nuclear Fusion Research — Watch
The film follows Maya Dardel (Olin), an internationally acclaimed poet and novelist who decides to end her life. She makes the announcement on national radio and launches a search for young male published poetry writers to compete to become executors of her estate. As the men compete, Maya will make sure to challenge them intellectually, emotionally and sexually.
The cast also includes Nathan Keyes (“Britney Ever After’), Alexander Koch (“Always Shine”), Jordan Gavaris (“The Sea of Trees”), and Chris Voss (“There Is No God and We All Die Alone”). The film is by writing-directing duo Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak »
- Yoselin Acevedo
“See what Hollywood’s biggest stars are wearing as they head into the Independent awards show, hosted by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney “The Mindy Project” and “Jackie” actress, Beth Grant “The Witch” director Robert Eggers with Alexandra Shaker “The Get Down” actress, Yolanda Ross “Morris From America” director Chad Hartigan “Grimm” star Bitsie Tulloch “Boys Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce “Transparent” actress Trace Lysette “Life, Animated” director Roger Ross Williams “Waste Land” director Lucy Walker “Veep” star Sam Richardson Spirit Awards hosts John Mulaney and Nick Kroll “Carlos” star Edgar Ramirez “Pulp Fiction” actress Rosanna Arquette Shohreh Aghdashloo »
- Rasha Ali
Welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly look at the new movies hitting theaters this weekend, as well as other cool events and things to check out.
This Past Weekend:
The Lego Batman Movie won the weekend as expected, but not with nearly as much money as I had predicted, not besting the opening of The Lego Movie as expected, but instead ending up with a reasonable and not so bad $53 million. Fifty Shades Darker proved that the audience for movies based on the popular books was still great enough for it to win Friday with $21 million (to Lego Batman’s $15 million) and end up second for the weekend with a strong $46.6 million. That was still almost $40 million less than the opening of the previous movie Fifty Shades of Grey, but the sequel also didn’t have the benefits of Valentine’s Day and a four-day holiday. Coming in »
- Edward Douglas
Billed as a mysterious, sensual ghost story, the film stars Gadon as a reserved young woman called Tyler, who escapes her overbearing mother, played by Rosanna Arquette, and enters the rich and strange world of her deceased father, Octavio (Trujillo).
After drawing attention to the festival’s annual Gaming Awards, organizers behind the South by Southwest Film Festival have posted the full, comprehensive lineup, revealing that the likes of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Free Fire, the riotous ensemble thriller from Ben Wheatley, are among those films that will screen for critics and attendees.
Per SXSW 2017‘s website, this year’s showcase will host “84 World Premieres, 11 North American Premieres, and 6 Us Premieres. First-time filmmakers account for 51 films, continuing our tradition of unearthing the emergent talent of tomorrow.” British auteur Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) is a regular of the Texas festival, and will be rubbing shoulders with other favorites including Michael Winterbottom, Nacho Vigalondo, Michael Showalter.
SXSW 2017 begins on March 10th in Austin, Texas and you can get up to speed on everything the festival has to offer down below.
Narrative Feature Competition
- Michael Briers
In 1978, Martin Scorsese shot a documentary called “American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince” about his friend, a former Neil Diamond roadie and drug-addict best known for playing the small role of Easy Andy in “Taxi Driver.” Considered Scorsese’s “lost film,” the documentary was never released, though it lived on in bootleg copies.
In it, Scorsese interspersed home videos of Prince’s childhood with his narrations of his wild stories, including a particularly outrageous one about the time he plunged an adrenaline shot into the heart of a girl who had overdosed on heroin. The scene was made famous by Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” and Prince also tells the story in Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life.”
In a recently published video, one can hear Prince’s original version of the story that inspired Tarantino, alongside the famous scene it inspired, »
- Jude Dry
Titled Octavio is Dead!, the movie will shoot in and around Toronto from January 22nd to February 13th, and will star Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction, Ray Donovan), Sarah Gadon (11.22.63, Indignation) and Raoul Trujillo (Sicario, Soldado).
Written and directed by Lee, Octavio is Dead! is stars Gadon as a daughter of an overbearing mother (Arquette) who “enters a rich and strange world of her deceased father (Trujillo) – a man she never knew. Sexual identity, the occult, and the power of will versus imagination confront her on her journey.”
- James Garcia
Gadon is also acting as an exec producer on the project. She portrays the daughter of her overbearing mother (Arquette) and enters the rich and strange world of her deceased father (played by Trujillo) — a man she never knew. Sexual identity, the occult, and the power of will versus imagination confront her on the journey. Dimitris Kitsos also stars as Octavio’s student Apostolis.
The film is produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. It’s represented internationally by sales agent WTFilms.
Gadon will be seen in the title role »
- Dave McNary
Four years after working together on “For Ellen,” So Yong Kim and Jena Malone reunited for the indie filmmaker’s latest drama “Lovesong,” a tale about two friends whose relationship deepens while on a trip of self-discovery. The film’s first trailer has been released, courtesy of Strand Releasing.
The movie follows Sarah, portrayed by Riley Keough, a woman neglected by her husband who goes on an impromptu road trip with her younger daughter and best friend, Mindy (Malone). Along the way, the friends become physically intimate until Mindy leaves abruptly. After three years of not speaking to each other, the two try to reconnect in the days before Mindy’s wedding. Brooklyn Decker, Amy Seimetz, Marshall Chapman, Ryan Eggold and Rosanna Arquette co-star.
Co-written by Kim and Bradley Rust Gray, the feature made »
- Liz Calvario
Ahead of its release next month, the first trailer has arrived online for director So Yong Kim’s upcoming romantic drama Lovesong which stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough; take a look below after the official synopsis…
Neglected by her husband, Sarah embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend, Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding.
- Amie Cranswick
While Sundance Film Festival 2017 is right around the corner, there’s still a handful of favorites from last year’s festival awaiting a release. One of the most acclaimed is So Yong Kim’s tender drama Lovesong, recently named one of the 50 best films from 2017 we’ve already seen. Starring Jena Malone (The Neon Demon) and Riley Keough (American Honey) as friends who reunite years later, Strand Releasing has now debuted the first trailer, which features a quote from our Sundance review.
We said in our review, “Tender and haunting, So Yong Kim’s Lovesong is a carefully observed, nuanced character study beautifully written, directed and edited. Much of the action, like in her pervious features In Between Days, Treeless Mountain and For Ellen occurs at the edge of the frame. Exploring the bounds of motherhood, childhood and maturity, Lovesong is an impressive and observant feature in which Kim allows »
- Jordan Raup
17 items from 2017
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