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A New Leaf – Olive Signature

Filtered through her experience as an unequalled comic performer, writer-director Elaine May scores a bulls-eye with this grossly underappreciated gem, fashioned in a style that could be called ‘black comedy lite.’ And that’s the release version mangled by the producer. What might it have been if May had been allowed to finish her director’s cut?

A New Leaf Olive Signature

Blu-ray

Olive Films

1971 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 102 min. / Street Date December 5, 2017 / available through the Olive Films website / 29.99

Starring: Walter Matthau, Elaine May, Jack Weston, George Rose, James Coco, Doris Roberts, Renée Taylor, William Redfield, David Doyle.

Cinematography: Gayne Rescher

Original Music: Neal Hefti

Written by Elaine May from a story by Jack Ritchie

Produced by Hilliard Elkins, Howard W. Koch, Joseph Manduke

Directed by Elaine May

Olive’s next title up for Signature Collection status is A New Leaf, the directing debut of comedienne-writer Elaine May. It’s certainly a worthy title.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Blu-ray Review: The Devil’S Rain (1975)

The poster tagline states, “Heaven help us all when The Devil’S Rain!”, and if that grammatical train wreck doesn’t break your brain, I promise you the following 86 minutes will. The Devil’s Rain (1975) is a glorious curiosity, a personal favorite, and thanks to Severin Films’ spectacular new Blu-ray release, one of the best reissues I’ve ever seen.

Meet The Prestons: Mark (William ShatnerKingdom of the Spiders), his mom (Ida LupinoJunior Bonner), and their ranch hand John (Woody ChamblissGargoyles) all await the return of Mark’s dad, and when he finally shows up, his eyes are missing and he starts melting in the rain (how bad is the humidity in the desert, anyway?). It turns out a fella by the name of Corbis (Ernest BorgnineDeadly Blessing) is looking for a very special book in the Preston family’s possession, a ledger of souls for
See full article at DailyDead »

October 31st Blu-ray & DVD Releases Include Dawn Of The Dead (2004) and Land Of The Dead Collector’s Editions, Slaughter High

  • DailyDead
Happy (almost) Halloween readers! With October 31st falling on the weekly home entertainment release day, that means we have extra reasons to get excited this Tuesday. Scream Factory has put together two absolutely incredible collector’s edition Blu-rays for George A. Romero’s underrated modern classic Land of the Dead as well as Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, which fans are going to want to add to their own personal collections.

For those of you who may have missed it in theaters, The Dark Tower comes home on Halloween, and Lionsgate has given the cult classic Slaughter High the Vestron Video treatment for their brand new Blu. Blue Underground is also keeping busy this week with a pair of Collector’s Edition sets, too—The Lift and Down—and the complete series of Orphan Black makes its home release bow on Halloween, too.

Other notable Halloween
See full article at DailyDead »

Harvey Aftershocks: Hollywood’s Battle Against Sleaze Fatigue

Harvey Aftershocks: Hollywood’s Battle Against Sleaze Fatigue
With Harvey Weinstein gone, the entertainment industry operates under a new ruler: The gut check. He’s now a punching bag to represent abuse by powerful men, but now the real work begins. What about everyone else?

“Harvey is aberrant, to be sure, but no anomaly,” veteran screenwriter and USC professor Howard Rodman wrote me in an email. “He’s a rapist, but not the only rapist in our industry, and not the only serial predator by a very long shot. If we use his evident and overweening guilt to exculpate the rest of us, this will be for naught. What’s needed is a sea change. And maybe — just maybe — its time has come.”

Weinstein’s predation has a very, very long tail; new stories arrive daily, with the Los Angeles Police Dept. now opening an investigation into an alleged rape in 2013. “It’s been such crazy couple of weeks,
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Harvey Aftershocks: Hollywood’s Battle Against Sleaze Fatigue

Harvey Aftershocks: Hollywood’s Battle Against Sleaze Fatigue
With Harvey Weinstein gone, the entertainment industry operates under a new ruler: The gut check. He’s now a punching bag to represent abuse by powerful men, but now the real work begins. What about everyone else?

“Harvey is aberrant, to be sure, but no anomaly,” veteran screenwriter and USC professor Howard Rodman wrote me in an email. “He’s a rapist, but not the only rapist in our industry, and not the only serial predator by a very long shot. If we use his evident and overweening guilt to exculpate the rest of us, this will be for naught. What’s needed is a sea change. And maybe — just maybe — its time has come.”

Weinstein’s predation has a very, very long tail; new stories arrive daily, with the Los Angeles Police Dept. now opening an investigation into an alleged rape in 2013. “It’s been such crazy couple of weeks,
See full article at Indiewire »

Junior Bonner

Sam Peckinpah was a fine director of actors when the material was right, and his first collaboration with Steve McQueen is an shaded character study about a rodeo family dealing with changing times. Joe Don Baker and Ben Johnson shine, but the movie belongs to Ida Lupino and Robert Preston.

Junior Bonner

Blu-ray

Kl Studio Classics

1972 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 100 min. / Special Edition / Street Date October 31, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95

Starring: Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, Joe Don Baker, Ben Johnson, Mary Murphy, Dub Taylor, Don ‘Red’ Barry, Bill McKinney.

Cinematography: Lucien Ballard

Film Editors: Frank Santillo, Robert L. Wolfe

Second Unit Director: Frank Kowalski

Bud Hurlbud: Special Effects

Original Music: Jerry Fielding

Written by Jeb Rosebrook

Produced by Joe Wizan

Directed by Sam Peckinpah

I suppose there were plenty of successful rodeo-themed westerns back in the day, perhaps the kind interrupted by a cowboy song every ten minutes or so.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

The Sea Wolf

Now restored to perfection, this genuine classic hasn’t been seen intact for way over sixty years. Michael Curtiz and Robert Rossen adapt Jack London’s suspenseful allegory in high style, with a superb quartet of actors doing some of their best work: Robinson, Garfield, Lupino and newcomer Alexander Knox.

The Sea Wolf

Blu-ray

Warner Archive Collection

1941 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 100 min. uncut! / Street Date October 10, 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Alexander Knox, Ida Lupino, John Garfield, Gene Lockhart, Barry Fitzgerald. Stanley Ridges, David Bruce, Francis McDonald, Howard Da Silva, Frank Lackteen, Ralf Harolde

Cinematography: Sol Polito

Film Editor: George Amy

Art Direction: Anton Grot

Special Effects: Byron Haskin, Hans F. Koenekamp

Original Music: Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Written by Robert Rosson, from the novel by Jack London

Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke

Directed by Michael Curtiz

Chopping up films for television was once the
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

The time of the harvest moon by Anne-Katrin Titze

Serge Bozon having a Hard, Fast And Beautiful First Encounter with Gavin Smith Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

First Encounters at the Quad Cinema have included Kenneth Lonergan and Edward Yang's Yi Yi, John Turturro and Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, and two directors who have films in the Main Slate of this year's New York Film Festival, Greta Gerwig with Lady Bird watched David Lynch's Blue Velvet and The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) director Noah Baumbach's First Encounter was Bruce Robinson's Withnail And I.

Serge Bozon, who is in the Main Slate program with Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde), starring Isabelle Huppert with Romain Duris and José Garcia, chose Ida Lupino's Hard, Fast And Beautiful with Claire Trevor, Sally Forrest, Robert Clarke, Kenneth Patterson, and Carleton G Young for his First Encounter.

Isabelle Huppert in ‪Serge Bozon‬'s Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde)

Hard, Fast And Beautiful
See full article at eyeforfilm.co.uk »

The Big Knife

What seemed too raw for 1955 still packs a punch, as Robert Aldrich takes a meat cleaver to the power politics of the old studio system. Monstrous studio head Rod Steiger has just the leverage he needs to blackmail frazzled star Jack Palance into signing the big contract. But will Hollywood corruption destroy them all?

The Big Knife

Blu-ray

Arrow Academy

1955 / B&W / 1:85 widescreen / 111 min. / Street Date September 5, 2017 / 39.95

Starring: Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagen,

Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Ilka Chase, Everett Sloane, Wesley Addy, Paul Langton, Nick Dennis.

Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo

Art Direction: William Glasgow

Film Editor: Michael Luciano

Original Music: Frank De Vol

Adapted by James Poe from the play by Clifford Odets

Produced and Directed by Robert Aldrich

Robert Aldrich’s 1940s film apprenticeship was largely spent as an assistant director for strong, creative filmmakers that wanted to do good personal work free of the constraints of the big studios.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

The Big Knife Available on Blu-ray September 5th From Arrow Video

The Big Knife (1955) will be available on Blu-ray + DVD September 5th From Arrow Video

Mere months after delivering one of the definitive examples of film noir with Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich brought a noir flavor to Hollywood with his classic adaptation of Clifford Odets’ stage play, The Big Knife.

Charles Castle, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, looks like he has it all. But his marriage is falling apart and his wife is threatening to leave him if he renews his contract. Studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff isn’t taking the news too well, and he’ll do anything he can to get his man to sign on the dotted line – even if means exposing dark secrets…

Winner of the Silver Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, The Big Knife also boasts a remarkable cast list including Jack Palance (Shane) as Castle and Rod Steiger (On the Waterfront) as Hoff,
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

1 of the Greatest Actors of the Studio Era Has His TCM Month

1 of the Greatest Actors of the Studio Era Has His TCM Month
Ronald Colman: Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month in two major 1930s classics Updated: Turner Classic Movies' July 2017 Star of the Month is Ronald Colman, one of the finest performers of the studio era. On Thursday night, TCM presented five Colman star vehicles that should be popping up again in the not-too-distant future: A Tale of Two Cities, The Prisoner of Zenda, Kismet, Lucky Partners, and My Life with Caroline. The first two movies are among not only Colman's best, but also among Hollywood's best during its so-called Golden Age. Based on Charles Dickens' classic novel, Jack Conway's Academy Award-nominated A Tale of Two Cities (1936) is a rare Hollywood production indeed: it manages to effectively condense its sprawling source, it boasts first-rate production values, and it features a phenomenal central performance. Ah, it also shows its star without his trademark mustache – about as famous at the time as Clark Gable's. Perhaps
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Toronto Film Festival launches $3m scheme for female filmmakers

  • ScreenDaily
Share Her Journey campaign targets C$3m within five years.

The Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) hierarchy announced on Monday a five-year mandate to expand its talent development programmes to champion and empower women.

The initiative aims to raise C$3m (Usd $2.3m) in five years – C$500,000 (Usd $388,200) in the remainder of 2017 – and kicks off on July 10 with a donors’ event to mark the launch of the Share Her Journey campaign.

The campaign will run from July 10 through the end of the 2017 festival on September 17 and is designed to celebrate successful and inspirational women behind and in front of the camera whom Tiff has championed and supported over the years.

Former PotashCorp vice-president Betty-Ann Heggie (pictured below), founder of the Womentorship programme at the University Of Saskatchewan, and philanthropist and longtime Tiff donor Anne-Marie Canning, will match the first C$80,000 (Usd $62,100) donated to the campaign in 2017.

Tiff has appointed ‘ambassadors’ to relay the campaign’s message. They include:
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Toronto Film Festival launches $3m scheme to boost female filmmakers

  • ScreenDaily
Share Her Journey campaign targets C$3m within five years.

The Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) hierarchy announced on Monday a five-year mandate to expand its talent development programmes to champion and empower women.

The initiative aims to raise C$3m (Usd $2.3m) in five years – C$500,000 (Usd $388,200) in the remainder of 2017 – and kicks off on July 10 with a donors’ event to mark the launch of the Share Her Journey campaign.

The campaign will run from July 10 through the end of the 2017 festival on September 17 and is designed to celebrate successful and inspirational women behind and in front of the camera whom Tiff has championed and supported over the years.

Former PotashCorp vice-president Betty-Ann Heggie (pictured), founder of the Womentorship programme at the University Of Saskatchewan, and philanthropist and longtime Tiff donor Anne-Marie Canning, will match the first C$80,000 (Usd $62,100) donated to the campaign in 2017.

Tiff has appointed ‘ambassadors’ to relay the campaign’s message. They include:
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Tiff launches female-oriented diversity drive

  • ScreenDaily
Share Her Journey campaign targets C$3m within five years.

The Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) hierarchy announced on Monday a five-year mandate to expand its talent development programmes to champion and empower women.

The initiative aims to raise C$3m (Usd $2.3m) in five years – C$500,000 (Usd $388,200) in the remainder of 2017 – and kicks off on July 10 with a donors’ event to mark the launch of the Share Her Journey campaign.

The campaign will run from July 10 through the end of the 2017 festival on September 17 and is designed to celebrate successful and inspirational women behind and in front of the camera whom Tiff has championed and supported over the years.

Former PotashCorp vice-president Betty-Ann Heggie (pictured), founder of the Womentorship programme at the University Of Saskatchewan, and philanthropist and longtime Tiff donor Anne-Marie Canning, will match the first C$80,000 (Usd $62,100) donated to the campaign in 2017.

Tiff has appointed ‘ambassadors’ to relay the campaign’s message. They include:
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Toronto International Film Fest Launches Share Her Journey Campaign

Share Her Story Ambassador Omoni Oboli: Red Carpet News TV/YouTube

This year’s edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) is still about two months away, but the fest is already introducing Share Her Journey, a program that will spotlight women in film from now until the end of Tiff 2017. Share Her Journey is the beginning of Tiff’s five-year plan to “grow its Talent Development programs with female-forward programming to increase participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera,” a press release details.

This long-term commitment to gender diversity will include the introduction of gender equity initiatives, a three-month residency program, a producers’ accelerator program, speaker series, and “comprehensive resources” for educators on the topic of women’s representation in film. All of these offerings are designed to “champion diversity of gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and physical and cognitive ability.”

Tiff has also brought on women in the film industry to participate as Ambassadors for Share Her Journey events. Actress and “Okafor’s Law” director Omoni Oboli will serve as Ambassador as will shorts filmmaker and Tiff award-winner Carol Nguyen (“How Do You Pronounce Pho?”), “Manufactured Landscapes” director and documentarian Jennifer Baichwal, and Deepa Mehta, whose feminist drama “Water” received an Oscar nod for Best Foreign Language Film.

“Inclusion, accessibility, and diversity are central to our work at Tiff. We acknowledge that gender inequity is systemic in the screen industries, so change has to happen at every level. That includes getting more women into key creative roles,” stated Cameron Bailey, Tiff Artistic Director.

“We plan to seek out, develop, and showcase top female talent in the industry through our Festival and year-round initiatives,” Bailey continued. Our mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. One of the most powerful ways to do that is to foreground the perspectives of women.”

The past year has seen Canada leading the charge for gender equality in the film industry. Canada’s Women In the Director’s Chair (Widc) initiative launched an online directory of its filmmakers in May. The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television introduced an apprenticeship program for female directors, and the National Film Board of Canada expanded its gender-equity plan by advocating for more women cinematographers, composers, and screenwriters in March.

In November Telefilm Canada, the country’s biggest film financier, introduced measures to ensure half of the movies it finances will now be directed or written by women. And the public broadcaster CBC announced last summer that at least half of the episodes of its popular scripted programs like “Murdoch Mysteries” and “Heartland” will be directed by women.

Fundraising for Share Her Journey begins tonight with a screening of Ida Lupino’s “Outrage,” which follows a young woman in the aftermath of an assault. For more information about the Share Her Journey campaign, go to Tiff’s website.

Tiff 2017 will take place September 7–17 in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto International Film Fest Launches Share Her Journey Campaign was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

James Dean, Johnny Guitar and Film Noir: The 7 Essential Films of Nicholas Ray

James Dean, Johnny Guitar and Film Noir: The 7 Essential Films of Nicholas Ray
With Nicholas Ray’s first film, “They Live By Night” recently restored by the Criterion Collection – after the company did a remarkable job with his “Bigger Than Life” and “In a Lonely Pace” – and “Johnny Guitar” set to get it’s streaming debut this weekend on Hulu (July 1), it’s a good time to review the career of one of Hollywood’s greatest mavericks.

Unlike most legendary auteurs, Ray’s career is incredibly uneven. He was a square peg trying to fit into the cylinder of Hollywood, but completely unwilling to round his sharp corners. It wasn’t that his style couldn’t adapt to Hollywood, as his mastery of storytelling through the use of space, composition and performance was readymade for the studio era. However, his uncompromising view of life and the existential struggle of his characters never fit neatly in stories with a clear resolution. His ability to
See full article at Indiewire »

Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Laurie Simmons — “My Art”

My Art

Laurie Simmons is an internationally recognized artist. Her work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum, among others. In 2006 she wrote and directed a short film, “The Music of Regret,” starring Meryl Streep.

My Art” will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Ls: “My Art” is a kind of coming-of-age story focusing on Ellie Shine, a single woman and artist with a more than decent life which includes a teaching job, friends, and a dog. Ellie longs to push the boundaries of her artwork — as opposed to her “career” — and sets out to challenge herself in new ways.

She leaves New York to house-sit the home and studio of a more successful artist friend. Uncomfortable at first with inhabiting the space of another artist, she ultimately figures out how to incorporate her friend’s barn, clothes, cars, objects, and even some of the locals to help her move her work to a new place. She meets some curiously engaging new friends who also seem to be questioning the direction of their lives, but Ellie’s path and somewhat bittersweet happy ending are uniquely hers and hers alone.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Ls: I’ve spent a lot of time observing both portrayals of artists and representations of women my age on-screen and feel that both often fall short of what I feel to be accurate and true to the life I’ve experienced. I’d thought long and hard about women’s stories — particularly women over 40.

Do the stories ever move beyond the subjects of love and a rumination on aging? Are women’s aspirations ever really addressed apart from finding romance and a story book ending? And, lastly, what about the ageless aspects of a female character — those traits which might make her appealing, cinematically, to people of all ages?

I’d imagined the character of Ellie for a long time and at a certain point I would say she started telling me her story. I also felt compelled to give an honest picture of how an artist might work in her studio — a story devoid of the kind of caricature and melodrama often assigned to the character of “the artist.”

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Ls: I’d like people to feel like they’ve just visited a place that’s very private, very green, and that something happened, something changed — not necessarily something huge, but something that reshaped the course of someone’s ordinary life.

I’ve always loved all the incarnations of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from Ingmar Bergman’s “Smiles of a Summer Night” and Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” to Woody Allen’s “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.”

The summer farce with its implication of “the moon made me do crazy things” has always appealed to me along with the romance movies of the French New Wave like “Jules and Jim.” There’s a sense that these movies have both transported you and held you hostage in someone else’s life. I’d like people to feel that they’ve gotten to know Ellie, Frank, and John, and maybe to feel a little bit disappointed that they won’t get to find out what happens next.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Ls: Ha. The biggest challenge in making the film was making the film — every aspect of it, from the first outline to the first screening at the Venice Film Festival. I’m not sure I actually believed I would see it up on a screen. Making it was that much of a fantasy for me.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Ls: I would say somewhere in between crowdsourcing and private funding is my answer, but I’m still shocked by how many doors I had to knock on to try and find financing for “My Art.” I assumed it would be a far easier task than it turned out to be. I think when a director is in the throes of raising funds for a movie there is very little one won’t do or sell to make it happen — dogs and children included.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at Tribeca?

Ls: Tribeca is a film festival that literally sprung from the ashes of 9/11, a national tragedy that occurred at our doorstep in downtown New York. I remember the first year of the festival so clearly — the mood was grim. I made one of the first artist trophies that were originally given as prizes to filmmakers at the fest.

In some sense “My Art” is about New York and about making it in New York. New York is where I made my work and came of age. I adore the city and am the consummate New Yorker.

I understand filmmakers who make the claim that their film is a love letter to the city. I initially thought I would make that movie but in “My Art” New York is always hovering just outside the frame.

What I truly know from experience is how challenging it is to live in New York and more specifically how difficult it is to find your destiny here. Every New Yorker readily admits they have a very passionate but fraught love affair with the city.

Showing my film to a New York audience is really my dream.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Ls: The best advice I received came from Ed Lachman, who shot my first film, a short called “The Music of Regret.” He told me to be democratic and diplomatic on set — to listen to what everyone has to say and then do what you want.

The worst advice I’ve received? Oh my God, [I’ve been given a lot of bad advice.]

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Ls: I’ll offer the same advice I’ve given my art students all these years: Find your subject. Tell your story. If it’s true to you, it will find it’s way into the world.

I’m new to the film world but I imagine there are many of the same challenges that exist in the art world. We have to get our numbers up — we need more women in the front line.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Ls: I love “The Hitchhiker,” which was directed by Ida Lupino and made her the first women to direct a film noir. It was a true thriller with an all-male cast. Lupino was really the first indie woman director.

She became a skilled low-budget filmmaker who pulled from her own wardrobe for costumes, reused sets from other movies, cast real people in roles, and used product placement with Coke and Cadillacs. She shot in public places to avoid location costs and did as much as possible in preproduction to avoid multiple retakes. I love the stories about how resourceful she was and how she loved to be considered a “mother” on set and a “bulldozer” when it came to getting money.

My close second would be Elaine May’s “A New Leaf,” followed by Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank.”

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Ls: I can only base my ideas on what I know from my own [visual arts] community where there are similar discussions. Years ago people started raising the issue of percentages of women represented in both museums and commercial gallery spaces. There was a flurry of activity and a number of “all-women” exhibitions but when the dust settled there was no real viable change, so the conversation started again.

I feel things are moving in a more positive direction. Maybe both having a female presidential candidate, and one of the largest U.S. protests (by women!) in history is finally ripping the band aid off the surprisingly blatant sexism that exists in our country. I have confidence that this particular glacier is beginning to melt but we need to be vigilant and make ourselves heard and not be afraid to address so-called feminine topics and the accompanying biases.

https://medium.com/media/80e3e7267905659f5efba2c85ff27546/href

Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Laurie Simmons — “My Art” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Cross-Post: #WomenDirectorWeek: The Challenge of Watching Only Female-Directed Films for One Week

Jane Campion’s “The Piano”: Miramax

The following has been reposted from Film Inquiry with the author’s permission.

If you pay much attention to events in the film industry, you’ll already know about the incredible dearth of female directors. It’s far from a revelation that a tiny amount of Hollywood movies are directed by women. In 2016, just seven percent of the 250 top grossing films in the U.S. had a woman in the director’s chair, a number that’s down from 2015, when the figure was still only nine percent.

It’s a problem as old as cinema itself, and I’m not here to offer any magical solution. I just wanted to share with you my personal journey into female-directed films, and offer a simple way of raising your awareness of what continues to be a hot-button issue.

A Failed Resolution

In 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution. In January, March, May etc. I would watch only films directed by women, and in February, April, June etc. I would only watch films directed by men. The intention was that by the end of the year, there would be a rough parity in the amount of films I had watched by men and by women.

As is the case with so many New Year’s resolutions, it didn’t last very long. January went well. I discovered Ida Lupino and Nicole Holofcener, as well as great films I hadn’t seen yet from Susanne Bier and Ava DuVernay. I finally got round to watching the excellent “Winter’s Bone,” and discovered an all-time favorite in “Gas Food Lodging.”

By the time March rolled around however, I was in trouble. I missed the freedom of February, where almost every film was available to me. Compiling a Netflix list of films directed by women was an altogether depressing experience. I also missed being able to watch Hollywood classics; if it weren’t for Lupino and Dorothy Arzner, pre-1960s films would have been almost entirely off the table. And so mid-March, I gave up.

Despite my failure, by the end of the year I had managed a very respectable 82 female-directed films.

However, in the first few months of 2017, the figure had become pitiful. I was not even on track for making the #52filmsbywomen target. And so I decided to have another go at my 2016 resolution, but on a much smaller scale. One week, just watching films directed by women.

So, How Did It Go?

Here’s a list of the films I watched:

The Fits” — Anna Rose HolmerThe Trouble With Angels ”— Ida LupinoEthel” — Rory KennedyOctober Gale” — Ruba Nadda“Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging ”— Gurinder Chadha“Elvis & Nixon” — Liza JohnsonThe Love Witch” — Anna Biller“Elle L’Adore” — Jeanne Henry“Christopher Strong ”— Dorothy ArznerWest Of Memphis” — Amy BergPalio” — Cosima Spender

Out of the films I watched this week, some I loved, some I hated; the ratio was no different to any other week when I’m not restricting my viewing.

Many of the films I watched this week could easily have been directed by a man; “Elvis & Nixon” springs to mind, as does “Palio,” and “West Of Memphis.” Yet with some of these films, it’s hard to imagine anyone but a woman at the helm. “The Fits” tells a specifically female coming-of-age story. “The Love Witch” is also a story that relies on its female perspective. One of the important reasons we need more female directors is so that these uniquely female stories get told. After all, women make up 52 percent of moviegoers, which is hardly a niche audience.

The largest number of films I watched this week were documentaries, a genre that has proven particularly successful for female filmmakers. Toronto’s Hot Docs festival made news recently when it declared that 48 percent of films in their official 2017 selection would be directed by a woman. Whilst it’s a little depressing that Hot Docs nearing gender equality marks such a large divergence from the status quo, it’s good to see the progression is happening somewhere.

Though women are particularly prominent in the field of documentaries, my viewing this week encompassed most genres. The exceptions were sci-fi and action, which is representative of the situation in the film industry as a whole. As this piece in Vanity Fair points out, sci-fi and action films happen to be where Hollywood makes most its money, and so the lack of female directors helming those films is particularly damaging.

Why Is This Important Anyway?

You might be wondering what the point of all this is. If I wanted to watch more female-directed films, why not just do that, rather than completely cutting out films directed by men?

The main reason is to stoke up fire for an issue that’s important to me. It’s all very well to be annoyed at the general state of the Hollywood gender balance, but unless you do happen to be a female film director, it’s an abstract thing. It’s easy to forget about when it doesn’t affect you directly.

But when you set yourself the challenge to only watch female-directed films for any period of time, whether it be a week, a month, or even longer, you give yourself a horse in the race. You see how long you have to search on Netflix before finding a film you can watch, or how few options you have if you want to go to the cinema (out of the 37 films that were playing in my nearest city during this week, only four had female directors).

And there are so few films by women that when you aren’t actively seeking them out, it’s easy to miss them. Between mid-February and mid-March this year, I watched 46 films directed by men, and only one directed by a woman. I wasn’t intentionally avoiding female-directed films, it’s just that with a film-making ratio so skewed towards men it’s easy to miss female-directed films completely. And it shouldn’t be.

And Why Is It Important to Watch Female-Directed Films?

This is my favorite Roger Ebert quote, made when receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

“Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else’s life for a while. I can walk in somebody else’s shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.This is a liberalizing influence on me. It gives me a broader mind. It helps me to join my family of men and women on this planet. It helps me to identify with them, so I’m not just stuck being myself, day after day.”

When men make up such an overwhelming percentage of directors, they tell overwhelmingly male stories (18 percent of 2016 films directed or written by men had a female protagonist, as opposed to 57 percent of films directed or written by a woman), and that means that audiences are robbed at the chance of empathizing with half the population. You’re drastically limiting the variety of stories we hear, and when has lack of variety ever been a good thing?

Moreover, having more female directors leads to more women in other departments behind the camera. A 2016 study showed that only nine percent of films directed by men had female writers. That figure leaps to 64 percent with films directed by women. Having a female director also raises the number of women editors, cinematographers, and composers. Hollywood runs on a trickle-down equality.

To Conclude

I’ve thrown a lot of stats at you in this piece, and I’m not surprised if they’ve left you unmoved. The internet is lousy with think pieces, and statistic-heavy articles about the lack of women film directors. The lack of female directors has been a problem for as long as there’s been cinema. It’s easy to feel numb to a problem that seems so deep-rooted.

If you try your own woman director week (or if you’re feeling particularly brave, longer), than you will find this horrendous gender disparity moving from a far-away, impersonal problem to one that affects you directly. You will notice the crushing lack of choice on Netflix or in cinemas, and find it infuriating. You’ll be energized, and it’s only when people get energized that situations change.

And it’s about time that things changed.

Will you take up the challenge? Film Inquiry will be hosting #WomenDirectorWeek April 17–23, in which we’ll only watch films by women.

Follow the #womendirectorweek hashtag on Twitter for recommendations on films to watch and where to find them.

Cross-Post: #WomenDirectorWeek: The Challenge of Watching Only Female-Directed Films for One Week was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Shakespeare in Love > Saving Private Ryan (your periodic reminder)

On this day in movie history...

1617 Though the exact date of her death is unknown, Pocahontas's funeral was held on this day. She died on a ship with husband John Rolfe (played by Christian Bale in The New World but he wasn't a character in Disney's Pocahontas because that woulda been hella depressing). She was only 21 or 22

1880 "Bronco Billy" Anderson, the original movie cowboy star (he made hundreds of silent shorts) is born

1941 The Sea Wolf starring Edward G Robinson and Ida Lupino is released. Director Michael Curtiz is warming up for his rather incredible peak decade (Captain of the Clouds, Yankee Doodle DandyCasablancaMildred Pierce and more are next)

1949 Slavoj Zizek of The Perverts Guide to Cinema (2006) is born

1956 The 1955 Oscars. Marty becomes both the shortest film to ever win Best Picture and the first indie to do so.

1958 Gary Oldman is born...
See full article at FilmExperience »

Interview with Cho Jinseok: I’m particularly interested in how artificial intelligence and creativity interact

Conceived in Busan and born in Seoul, Cho Jinseok is a filmmaker who also developed the Cholol Technique for philosophical inquiry by blending contemporary western and Korean practices of argumentation. He studied media and communications theory and Chinese language at university. Colonel Panics is his debut film.

We talk to him about his life, the film, history, technology, art and many other topics.

How does an S.Korean who deals with philosophy, and has studied media and communications theory, and Chinese language, ends up shooting a Japanese film?

A friend in Tokyo approached me a couple of years ago and asked me whether I wanted to housesit their place as they were going away for quite a while. I agreed, made the move to Tokyo and lived there for a while, soaking up the culture, the history and the people. I found the political situation in Japan very fascinating and
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »
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