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Jenny Mollen Hoping for a 'Miracle' After Brother's Hospitalization: 'As Far as Answers Go, We Have None'

17 July 2017 2:25 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Jenny Mollen‘s brother has been hospitalized, the actress revealed in a lengthy personal essay published by Marie Claire on Monday.

“This was a very hard piece to write but a story I wanted to share,” she prefaced on Instagram. “A little over a month ago, my family suffered a devastating blow when my older brother landed in the hospital. It’s my hope that this piece serve not just as an account of what transpired but also an explanation to all our friends who have questions and concerns. If you know any of the people involved, please respect the »

- Aurelie Corinthios

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Baby Beluga Mysteriously Dies Moments After Birth at SeaWorld

11 July 2017 8:07 AM, PDT | | See recent news »

A baby beluga born into captivity at SeaWorld Orlando died of unknown causes just moments after it was born to 17-year-old mom Whisper.

The theme park announced the death of the calf on Friday, stating in a press release that the beluga was born earlier in the week and was “unusually weak.”

“Unfortunately the unusually weak calf surfaced only briefly before sinking to the bottom of the pool. The animal care and veterinary teams reacted quickly and were able to reach the calf and begin emergency care. Despite their best efforts and expertise, we are saddened to confirm that the calf did not survive, »

- Kelli Bender

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Megan Leavey movie review: a soldier and her dog

23 June 2017 7:15 AM, PDT | | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

MaryAnn’s quick take… This deeply satisfying military drama demonstrates that a simple, even familiar story can be powerfully effective when told with big heart and solid craft. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women; I’m a sucker for stories about dogs

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I might have had something in my eye there by the end of this deeply satisfying military drama, which demonstrates that a simple story — even a familiar one — can be powerfully effective when told with big heart and solid craft.

This one isn’t entirely familiar, however. The honking big freshness to Megan Leavey is right there in the title: here it’s a young woman with no direction in life and few skills for coping with adult relationships who gains confidence and finds purpose when she joins the Marines, »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Forget Film Critics: For Indie Films With Wider Aims, It May Come Down to CinemaScore

13 June 2017 8:10 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Recent box-office struggles of “The Mummy” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” have studios shaking their fists at reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes for alerting audiences to negative critical consensus. (Or, as an indie marketing exec tartly observed to Vanity Fair, “It’s a ridiculous argument that Rotten Tomatoes is the problem. Fuck you — make a good movie!”)

However, two films from specialized distributors in last weekend’s top 10 reveal another powerful critical voice at work. A24’s “It Comes at Night” placed at #6 with $6 million, while Bleecker Street’s “Megan Leavey” landed at #8 with $3.8 million. Neither take is especially impressive, but the key to assessing the films’ longer-term futures may lie not in the reviews from respected critics — on whose opinions indie films traditionally live and die — but from the lowly CinemaScore, the 39-year-old opening-night polling service that asks audiences to grade movies on a scale of A to F.

Read »

- Tom Brueggemann

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“Megan Leavey” Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Talks Dogs, War, and Feminism

12 June 2017 12:01 PM, PDT | Women and Hollywood | See recent Women and Hollywood news »

Megan Leavey

Megan Leavey” is both a story of war and a story of love. Based on a true story, the movie centers on Megan (Kate Mara), a woman at the end of her rope. She joins the Marines and winds up in a K9 unit with a problematic and intense dog, Rex. They become partners in more ways than one.

While women weren’t supposed to be on the front lines, Megan and Rex were actually in front of the front lines searching for IEDs. The pair were inseparable, and once Megan left the Marines she worked for years to adopt Rex after he was decommissioned. She fought as if her life depended on it all the way to Congress. She was finally able to bring him home to be with her until he died.

This is a wonderful, emotional film helmed by the award-winning director of “Blackfish,” Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

Megan Leavey” is in theaters now. Head over to the film’s official site for tickets and screening information.

This interview has been edited. It was transcribed by Joseph Allen.

W&H: I loved the movie. I am a dog person. I’m also a short person who has a very large dog, so it resonated with me a lot.

Gc: Right, watching Kate [Mara] be about the same size as Rex, I’m sure you were like “I feel the same.”

W&H: So, you’re best known for “Blackfish,” which has had such a profound effect on our culture, so talk about how and why you wanted to make the shift into narrative.

Gc: You know, it kind of came to me right when “Blackfish” was starting to strike a nerve. Some agents and managers approached me and said “Have you ever thought of doing narrative?” And I hadn’t really, but to me it was story-dependent.

I’m a storyteller, and I thought “This sounds amazing, I love movies so let me give this a try.” It’s been amazing. A lot of tools transfer over from one to the other, but all in all I do hope to be able to do both in the future. Whether it’s documentary or whether it’s narrative is all story-dependent to me.

W&H: Do you worry that now that you’ve made a documentary about animals and now a narrative about animals, that you’re going to be the go-to person for anything that has an animal in it?

Gc: I definitely see a lot of scripts and get a lot of documentary ideas that revolve around that world, and I love that world, but to me, as I said, it’s story-dependent. “Blackfish” — to me — worked in spite of the fact that it was about an animal.

There have been plenty of animal documentaries. I think “Blackfish” struck a nerve more directly and got that mainstream audience because it had a compelling story and compelling characters.

If you’re going to have your film do work out there in the world, you have to kind of back into issues. I think they work better that way — backing into an issue is much more effective in my experience than preaching an issue.

W&H: Megan Leavey” is such an intense film. I was reading some of the material that said it’s not really about war — it’s about a relationship between a woman and her dog and getting her life together. But what about that story made you say, “Okay, this is the first narrative that I’m going to do?”

Gc: I had worked on Iraq documentaries before in a previous life, all these squad-level stories of mostly marines in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I don’t remember, but I don’t think we ever interviewed a woman, which was so surprising to me that it didn’t occur to me back then.

I was so curious about how a female marine comes up in that world, and especially in the context of those wars. And we had never done canine, I knew nothing about the canine unit, so it was two fresh entry points into a war story and the opportunity to get people to understand the context of this world by having characters that were not acceptable to them before.

That was exciting for me, and in terms of the animal thing, I read it, and I thought “This is a special story.” Because I think just like “Blackfish,” the animal in this, similar to the killer whales in “Blackfish,” can remind us of what we love most about ourselves: compassion, friendship, loyalty, and all these things. To me, I think animals have a way of reminding us of the things we love the most about ourselves.

And yet it’s set in a war, so it was just a really fresh take on a story that you might think you’ve heard before. It was just a very unique opportunity to tell this story.

W&H: I was also reading that Kate was attached to the film before, and because she was so in love “Blackfish,” she suggested you for this. Talk about how that happened.

Gc: Yeah, she was attached as you said, and she sent me the script and said “If this resonates with you, I’d love to work with you.” And she also suggested me to the producers, so really I went in, read the script, went in and pitched it, and I was on a plane three weeks later. It all happened very, very fast.

W&H: That’s impressive.

Gc: Yeah. It’s very cool, it’s a pretty special connection. I think the producers are the types of producers that roll the dice with a director who’s never directed narrative, because basically Mickey Liddell had a feeling. That’s so rare that a producer will say that, so that was a cool thing.

W&H: And I feel that one of the untold stories of these wars has been the role that women played in them and how they have been in combat, even though people say women are not in combat. There have been several films that have really shown that, and this one is another one of these films that says “Let’s not pretend anymore that women are not doing what they are doing.”

Gc: Right, I’m glad you picked up on that. It’s interesting because in documentary we just tell the truth, and we need a lot of story discipline in documentary, and yet you put truthful things throughout your narrative. This is based on a true story, so my point with “Megan Leavey” is I read the script, and being the political person that I am, there are things you want to say kind of outright and on the nose about the war, or about women in the military.

And what was interesting was we tried to slide those things in — we couldn’t be on the nose with that stuff because it’s just not what this story is about. It’s really about this relationship between her and her dog, but what was cool was being able to slide some of that stuff in there, so you almost absorb it via osmosis. You’re sort of absorbing it without it being a movie about women fighting in combat in Iraq.

We throw in a line there where she’s told, “You’ll only go to checkpoints, you’ll never go on missions.” And then two scenes later she’s going on a mission, so it’s cool when people pick up on that.

W&H: That’s such bullshit.

Gc: It’s totally that, and women need to be commended for really being on the front lines, and in Megan’s case, being in front of the front lines. That fact that this has been this secret that’s just starting to come out is crazy, and yet it was cool to be able to subtly slide that in there, and have people like you pick up on it.

W&H: Are there a lot of women handlers like her? Or is it rare?

Gc: There are female handlers. I don’t know what the numbers are. I think there are just more men in every rank and file, but I don’t know.

W&H: I found it very exciting seeing the war from a woman’s perspective. All the war movies that we see where there is one woman in a platoon of men, it always goes really quickly into how they sexually harass the woman.

Gc: Totally, yeah.

W&H: And this I felt was so different because there was none of that, “Oh, what are you doing here girl?”

Gc: Right, right.

W&H: She’s here, she belongs, she’s a part of this. There was the subtle thing of “I’m clearly the only girl here and I have my own place to sleep,” but it wasn’t like, “Oh my God, I feel like she’s going to be raped at any instant.”

Gc: No that’s right, and it isn’t a movie about that. It suggests it in certain scenes but it’s not a movie about that. What’s cool about it is I want that issue to be covered: I think it’s tremendously important to recognize what they’ve been doing in the military. That said, what was so cool about this is that pretty shortly after she’s in country, you kind of forget about the gender thing.

She emerges not only as a marine that joins a very elite canine unit, which means she had to pass all the tests with flying colors, but then she emerges as a leader in the elite unit, and she’s the one who wants to go in to confront the people that made the Ied and tried to kill her.

And you don’t question it — you don’t think to yourself, “That’s not something she would do.” You just think to yourself, “She’s a marine.” You don’t think, “Oh, how strange that a female marine is doing that.”

It kind of sneaks up on you and I love that. She’s where she is and she’s doing what she’s doing because she’s earned it, just like anybody else would earn it.

W&H: And it’s interesting with her family, army is always a tool in narrative film for men who are floundering in the world and need to get their shit together. It’s really very rare where it’s, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, I’m floundering as a woman. Oh, I’m going to go into the marines.”

Gc: Right, and we’re always going to get that question. “Yeah, but why that [the army] for her?” That’s just not a question a lot of people are asking for men, and it’s unfair. But, you do have to remember there’s certain parts of the country where there are not a lot of prospects, this is a post-9/11 world, she’s a New Yorker, it’s like “Why not?”

Another thing that’s just cool about the movie is that I do see war movies [and it’s nice to make one with a female lead.] I think some of the war movies that have come out in the last 20 years, even since I was little and I saw “Platoon,” and then “The Hurt Locker,” these are masterpieces. Some of them are masterpieces. And I think to myself when I watch them, I never find myself in them.

W&H: Right.

Gc: Do you know what I mean? I look and I’m like “Would I be that sergeant or would I be that lieutenant? Who am I here? Or would I be the wife, the girlfriend who’s left at home?” None of those seem to fit, none of those roles feel like me. And what was cool about reading this script is Megan could be my friend, Megan could be me, Megan could be my sister.

There’s something so accessible about her and you could see yourself in your teenage years going that direction. And for me that was just so important just an entry point there that just makes this story digestible to a totally different audience. An audience of young girls, you know?

W&H: No, I agree with you, and that’s interesting because we do see war movies always from the male perspective, and everything is about the bombs that are going off, and the dismemberment, and the limbs.

Gc: Totally!

W&H: It’s trying to shock you into whatever emotion you’re going to have, but it’s always about assault of your senses, whereas here it was a war movie. We can’t say that there wasn’t a war going on, yet it was a war story from a feminine perspective. And we never see that. It’s important to remind ourselves that women and children suffer so much in war and that’s hardly ever shown.

Gc: That’s right. That’s a really good point that I hadn’t really thought of. I totally think that, and I think the third act of the movie is so important. Yes, it’s going to have all that muscular action scene stuff because that is the reality of what Megan went through. Combat is real, by and large, it’s a centerpiece of a lot of people’s experience there.

That said, for me, it was when you come out of those combat situations, yes there’s all these fireworks, and all this craziness that happened to you, and yet how you process that as a human being is totally internal. Right? It’s emotional.

For me it was so important with this film to show what it means to come home, and to maybe physically not. To be physically intact, but to be broken in some profound way. So, to me it was like, you’re going to devote an entire third act to just what that means for her.

I knew it was a risk, and I know it’s a risk, because once you tell people it’s a war film and once they see all that action, maybe they’ll miss it. Maybe they’ll be like. “Oh, well that was all the adrenaline rush stuff, now where are we? We’re in a therapy session?”

I know it’s a risk, but that said, I think it’s so much more spot on to a vet’s experience, and to being able to come out of that darkness.

W&H: What was the hardest part of the shoot for you?

Gc: It’s funny, everybody thinks it’s the big combat scenes, but those were so much easier. Those were all technical and technique and I could see it in my head, so it was just working with great people to make sure that those hit.

Honestly, I think the hardest part was trying to strike a very specific tone that didn’t feel to saccharine and too sweet because my worry was that suddenly you have a woman and a dog and people are going to already try to cast your film as schmaltzy. I was just really trying to stay authentic, and as gritty as I could possibly make it while trying to deliver an emotional thread. That’s a tightwire, you know? Walking a tightrope.

And I backed away from the “awww” factor. The little close-ups of the dogs, that was something that a lot of people want, but I refuse to do that. You have to earn your love of Rex, he should be formidable, he should be scary in the beginning. He shouldn’t be like “Awww, it’s a dog.” So it’s just a fine line.

W&H: I always ask woman directors this: We still have such a low amount of women operating at the top level of the business, and this weekend we saw the success of “Wonder Woman” and things like that. In the conversations that you have with colleagues, peers, and friends, what do you talk about in terms of what needs to change or the conversation that you might have with other directors about these types of issues?

Gc: It’s absolutely at the forefront of how we go about working in this business. My hope is, of course, to be able to have more women, more people of color, more everything at the table. I think the bigger hope is that it’s not like people are checking off boxes: I want it to evolve where studio heads and everybody just realizes that it’s actually making film better.

This is making film better, more interesting, and more unpredictable. I think that’s where art is at its best and most exciting — when you have a voice come in from left field. Well, not left field: Women are the mainstream, and it’s ridiculous that we talk about them as though [they account for the] left field.

Really, rather than just being like, “Okay, we should be checking off these boxes because we’re going to be in trouble if we don’t,” I want there to be an evolved realization that this is only making art better. That’s a harder thing — that means you’re going to have to tap into people’s psyche.

Megan Leavey” Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Talks Dogs, War, and Feminism 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

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Megan Leavey: Kate Mara and Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Talks About The True Story and Working With Dogs

12 June 2017 9:21 AM, PDT | | See recent LRM Online news »

In one of the most touching stories, Megan Leavey will leave you with a tearful joy on a story about a female marine and a bomb sniffing dog.

Based on a true story, a female marine develops a relationship with a military combat dog while being deployed in Iraq. The dog manages to save her life as she attempts to save his life in return.

The film stars Kate Mara, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Common, Geraldine James, Edie Falco, Will Patton and Ramon Rodriguez. It marks the feature narrative film debut for director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish).

Megan Leavey is currently playing in theaters nationwide today.

Check out our sit-down interview below with actress Kate Mara and director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

Source: Lrm Exclusive »

- Gig Patta

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Kate Mara on ‘Megan Leavey’ and Meeting the Title Hero of This Real-Life War Story

9 June 2017 12:42 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish), the war drama Megan Leavey is based on the truly touching real-life story of a young woman (played beautifully by Kate Mara) who was aimless and unhappy until she found purpose in the Marine Corp, where she was paired up with an unruly German shepherd named Rex from the K-9 unit. Over the course of their service, Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions, until an Ied explosion injured them and she made it her mission to convince the military to let her adopt Rex and give him a loving home. During … »

- Christina Radish

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'Megan Leavey' Review: True Story of War Veteran and Her Dog Earns Your Tears

8 June 2017 9:06 AM, PDT | | See recent Rolling Stone news »

Confession: I'm a dog lover. So take this praise with a grain of salt if you must – but Megan Leavey had me at first bark. Based on a true story (no, really!), this war drama deftly sidesteps the paths that suck you down in sentimental quicksand. Oh, you'll cry all right. But the movie earns your tears.

Kate Mara is raw and riveting in the title role, a marine who ends up in combat in Iraq with Rex, a bomb-sniffing German shepherd in the Military Police K9 unit. Nobody likes Rex. »

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Meridian acquires 'Megan Leavey' for China

6 June 2017 10:14 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Film opens this week in Us through Bleecker Street.

Meridian Entertainment has acquired Chinese theatrical rights from Sierra/Affinity to the drama Megan Leavey starring Kate Mara.

Ld Entertainment produced and financed the film, which opens in the Us this week via Bleecker Street and is based on the true life story of a young Marine officer and her military combat dog.

Leavey was assigned to the Army’s K9 unit after a disciplinary hearing and formed a strong bond with a particularly aggressive dog, Rex. Together, they saved many lives on deployment in Iraq. Edie Falco, Ramón Rodríguez, Bradley Whitford, and Common round out the key cast.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite of Blackfish fame directed from a screenplay by Pamela Gray and Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt.

Meridian Entertainment will release the film through its distribution arm United Entertainment Partners in the fourth quarter of the year.

Nicholas Sherry negotiated the deal on behalf of Sierra /Affinity.

“We »

- (Jeremy Kay)

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‘Megan Leavey’ Review: Kate Mara Heroically Saves An Uneven Military Biopic That Can’t Stop Chasing Its Tail

6 June 2017 10:03 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

A true story so pure that it almost grants its teller the permission to be sloppy, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Megan Leavey” is a bit of a mess from the moment it starts, but it’s hard to completely dismiss any movie with a soul this strong, just as it would be hard to dismiss a disobedient puppy so long as its tail keeps wagging. An unlikely mutt that crossbreeds the cuteness of “Must Love Dogs” with the suspense of “The Hurt Locker,” “Megan Leavey” is the kind of movie that writes itself, and often feels as though it has.

Based on the very real, very believable bond between a young marine corporal and the volatile German Shepherd with whom she partners during her tours of duty in Iraq, this broadly engaging drama is gripping when it deals with the details of being a woman on the front lines, and it »

- David Ehrlich

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Kate Mara’s ‘Megan Leavey’ Sold to China’s Meridian

6 June 2017 9:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Meridian Entertainment has acquired theatrical distribution rights for China to Kate Mara-starring drama “Megan Leavey.” Meridian expects to release the film through United Entertainment Partners in the fourth quarter.

The film was produced and financed by Ld Entertainment. International rights were handled by Sierra/Affinity.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish”) from a screenplay by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt, the fact-based film tells the story of a Marine Corporal who sees military service together with a particularly difficult dog. The picture also stars Edie Falco, Ramon Rodríguez, Bradley Whitford, and Common.

“With our unparalleled capability and expertise in securing quotas, distributing nationwide, and employing effective marketing strategies and campaigns for all of the titles we acquire, Meridian and Uep strive to be the major supplier for the best foreign films the global market has to offer in China,” said Meridian chairwoman Jennifer Dong.

Meridian has a multi-year, »

- Patrick Frater

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Meridian Picks Up Kate Mara's Iraq War Drama 'Megan Leavey' for China

6 June 2017 9:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Meridian Entertainment has scooped up China distribution rights to Iraq War drama Megan Leavey, starring Kate Mara.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, best known for the documentary Blackfish, directed the real-life drama, which centers on the lifesaving bond between a young Marine corporal and her combat dog during the Iraq war.

Edie Falco also stars in the feature, along with Ramon Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford and Common.

Meridian picked up the rights from Sierra/Affinity and plans to release the film through its distribution arm, United Entertainment Partners, in the fourth quarter. The film was financed and produced by Ld Entertainment. The deal was »

- Patrick Brzeski

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‘Megan Leavey’ Review: Kate Mara Is Semper Fi for Man’s Best Friend

30 May 2017 9:22 AM, PDT | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

There are certain types of stories that go together perfectly, and others that just don’t feel like natural matches. Unless you’re coming to the material with the experience of, say, Steven Spielberg, “violent war biopic” and “inspirational animal drama” are a tricky combo. So while it’s perhaps no surprise that director Gabriela Cowperthwaite struggles to weave these disparate threads together in “Megan Leavey,” she ultimately does her heroes — both of them — proud. Cowperthwaite is a documentary filmmaker best known for “Blackfish,” which bluntly upended any fond memories of family trips to SeaWorld. She takes a similarly straightforward approach to this fictionalized account. »

- Elizabeth Weitzman

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Film Review: ‘Megan Leavey’

30 May 2017 9:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Megan Leavey” is a wartime romance, the twist being that it’s of the platonic interspecies variety. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s based-on-a-true-story drama recounts the deep bond shared by a Marine and her German Shepherd, which was forged in training, strengthened in combat, and cemented in retirement. Often too clunky for its own good, and (ahem) doggedly apolitical throughout, this earnest feel-good tale nonetheless manages to pull on the heartstrings with sufficient gentleness. Aided by a charismatic lead turn from star Kate Mara (and her canine sidekick as well), it should receive a warm, if perhaps not heroic,  welcome from theatrical audiences.

Her life going nowhere fast in 2003, Megan (Mara) finds it untenable to continue living at home in Valley Cottage, New York, with her shrill divorced mother (Edie Falco), who’s now shacked up with the man (Will Patton) for whom she left Megan’s father (Bradley Whitford). Thus, for reasons only briefly sketched, »

- Nick Schager

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Free Screenings of Megan Leavey for Military Personnel at Regal Theaters on May 30th

25 May 2017 6:34 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Bleecker Street & Ld Entertainment have joined forces with At&T Thanks, Regal Cinemas and to bring the true life story, Megan Leavey, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite to service members ahead of the June 9, 2017 nationwide release of the film.

At&T Thanks, Regal Cinemas and will generously sponsor over 190 screenings of the film on May 30th as part of National Military Appreciation Month at participating Regal Cinemas. Active and retired service members will be invited to attend a free screening of the film in advance through At&T Thanks and Regal Cinemas. will facilitate ticket fulfillment.

Tickets will be available starting Monday, May 22, 2017 at For a list of participating locations, please visit

Tyler Dinapoli, President of Marketing, Media and Research for Bleecker Street, said, “We’re proud to work with At&T Thanks, Regal Cinemas and MovieTickets. »

- Tom Stockman

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Iraq War Film 'Megan Leavey' Receives "6 Certified" Stamp of Approval From Veteran Organization

24 May 2017 7:30 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Megan Leavey has earned an official "6 Certified" verification.

The Iraq War film, helmed by Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and starring Kate Mara in the eponymous role, has been verified by the committee of service veterans and entertainment industry experts of the Got Your Six foundation, a nonprofit aimed at promoting more normalized depictions of veterans in film and television. 

"Very proud to receive the Got Your 6 certification," Cowperthwaite said. "We all say 'Thank you for your service,' but what does that really mean? In many ways we're just not equipped as civilians to give [veterans] what they need. Megan Leavey »

- Patrick Shanley

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Montclair Review: ‘Megan Leavey’ is an Ambitious, Restrained War Drama

10 May 2017 5:34 AM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Side-stepping the more explicit aspects of war, the biopic Megan Leavey focuses on the story of a woman who finds a higher calling, though not of a religious variety. A wild child from a broken Rockland County home, she ultimately finds the kind of camaraderie she’d been missing in her upbringing through a canine. Played masterfully by Kate Mara, Leavey is an aimless young woman who leaves a dead-end daycare job, deadbeat mom Jackie (Edie Falco), and life behind to join the Marines. Despite the discipline instilled, she still finds ways of returning to her old self, including one drunken night in which public urination lands her a reassignment to the K9 unit under the command of Gunny Martin (Common), the kind of tough love commander who tells it like it is while providing mentorship to those that ask.

After some time in the kennel, Leavey aspires to work »

- John Fink

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Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Ellen Goldfarb— “Dare to be Different”

24 April 2017 2:01 PM, PDT | Women and Hollywood | See recent Women and Hollywood news »

“Dare to Be Different”

Ellen Goldfarb has produced and directed many projects. “Dare to Be Different” is her first feature film.

“Dare to Be Different” will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 27.

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

Eg: “Dare To Be Different” is a nostalgic, fun look back at the world-famous radio station Wlir from Long Island, NY. It’s a David and Goliath story of a smaller non-corporate radio station that was operating with a temporary FCC license even as they tried to stay afloat while competing with bigger corporate radio conglomerates.

In 1982, the station made the decision to take a huge risk and change their music format, playing music that no other station was going to play. With this change, they made musical history and gave artists that had no other inlet to the United States a gateway to America.

Denis McNamara and his team of creative and rogue DJ’s kept the station going with great new music, interesting shows, live concerts, and amusing programs. The station became a phenomenon that was eventually recognized all over the world. It had an incredibly loyal fan base, and was unlike any radio station in America.

In the five-year-period which was the “Dare To Be Different” years, Wlir created a musical and cultural movement that defined the 1980s. In our film you will hear interviews from many of the artists and bands that had their first U.S. airplay on Wlir. The artists pay homage to the station and also talk about their history and the history of New Music.

There are also interviews with many big music industry executives, DJs, club owners, concert promoters, and fans all reminiscing about their beloved Wlir and these glorious years. You’ll hear and see many of the songs that made Wlir what is was,and you’ll also be able to take a tour of the old station though archived footage and B-roll all the way until its demise.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Eg: I have always loved Wlir and whenever I hear certain songs from that era, it brings me back to a special time in my life. When I noticed there were so many tribute pages on Facebook to Wlir and how many people were reminiscing, posting songs, and saying how much they missed the station after over 30 years, I realized that I was not the only passionate person whose life was changed by it.

However, no one really ever knew what happened to Wlir! One day it was just gone and there was a new station in its place. They tried to play the same music but the vibe was very different. I decided to do some research about the station and realized there was a great story to be told.

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

Eg: The importance of radio — what is was then and what is has become. I feel very fortunate that I grew up with Wlir and I want everyone to know what it was all about. I want people to appreciate what Denis and the staff at Wlir did for these artists and bands that may not be where they are today if it was not for the station.

Also, that this music was as important to history as the ’60s was with its British Invasion. The music of the ’80s was very influential on many levels, and it even influenced today’s music. This is a story that needed to be told and I am so excited for the world to know about Wlir!

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

Eg: Money! Isn’t it always money?

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

Eg: We formed an LLC, put our own life savings into this, did two Indie Go Go crowdfunding campaigns, gathered as many investors as we could find, and finished up what we have now. We still need finishing funds for music rights and we’re hoping a distributor can help us with that.

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

Eg: It’s amazing! Truly amazing! We are so excited! And New York is the perfect place to have our world premiere since Wlir was a NY/ Long Island radio station! We are so grateful that they invited us to come and premiere at Tribeca and 2017 marks 30 years since Wlir went off the air!.

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

Eg: Worst advice: My sister-in-law said, “You really need to find a director for your film!”

Best Advice: “You need to be the director of this film!”

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

Eg: Be tenacious. Don’t give up, even when you think you will never succeed. Protect your film like a mother protects their children. You can do it. Women can be just as successful as men are, and sometimes more so. Always remember that.

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

Eg: I have so many but one film in particular, from a fellow documentary filmmaker I really admire for her work is “Blackfish” from Gabriela Cowperthwaite. I was very impressed with this film.

I love Sofia Coppola’s work and would love to sit and chat with her one of these days.

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.

Eg: I’m absolutely optimistic about the possibilities for change. I think times are changing and it’s so refreshing to see so many talented women in film! I think there will be more and more opportunities in the future for we women filmmakers. It seems very positive. It took a while, but it is happening.

Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Ellen Goldfarb— “Dare to be Different” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »

- Joseph Allen

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13 Best Documentaries to Watch on Netflix (Photos)

10 April 2017 1:41 PM, PDT | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

Documentaries and chill? If you’re getting a bit tired of endlessly scrolling through Netflix movies, try these films on for size. Added plus: You might even accidentally learn something. The 13th Ava DuVernay’s latest documentary, “The 13th” sheds light on the prison industrial system and its relation to historical inequality in the United States. It’s titled after the 13th amendment which abolished slavery. “Blackfish” We can pretty much credit the downfall of Sea World to  Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Blackfish” which tells the story of Tilikum, a killer whale in captivity at the theme park that killed its »

- Rasha Ali

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Check Out Kate Mara, Tom Felton, Edie Falco, Ramón Rodríguez, Bradley Whitford and Common In New Photos From Megan Leavey

7 April 2017 11:55 AM, PDT | | See recent news »

Edie Falco and Kate Mara star as Jackie and Megan Leavey in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Megan Leavey, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Michael Tacket / Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street has released new photos from the upcoming film Megan Leavey. See this movie – it’s a great film.

From director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish), the upcoming drama based on the powerful true story of a marine’s best friend opens in theaters everywhere June 9.

Megan Leavey is based on the true life story of a young marine corporal (Kate Mara) whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. When she is assigned to clean up the K9 unit after a disciplinary hearing, Leavey identifies with a particularly aggressive dog, Rex, and is given the chance to train him. Over the course of their service, Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions until an Ied explosion injures them, »

- Michelle McCue

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