Her.Stories: Top doc filmmakers, Japan’s female directors, Women in Zimbabwean film, Rape on screen, and more…

WFTV’s top 5 women in documentary filmmaking to look out for in 2013
at Doc Geeks

With More Women in Film, Has Anything Changed?
at Huffington Post

Women filmmakers to call the shots at IFFK 2012
at Manorama Online

A filmmaker’s angle on Africa (Filmmaker Amanda Sibanda)
at The Zimbabwean

Japan’s female directors make a strong showing
at Japan Times

‘Wadjda’ named DIFF’s best Arabic film
at Saudi Gazette

Don’t blame films for rapes, says director Bela Sehgal
at Times of India

Hitting the big league: Bangladesh and its women filmmakers
at The Daily Star

A woman for all seasons (Filmmaker Agnes Jaoui)
at Global Times

DCAA launches Emirati filmmaker project
at Screen Daily

2013 opens with women-centric multi starrers
at Times of India

Three-part series at Shoot Online:

A Look At Women In Production: Numbers, Personal Observations, Reflections (pt. I)

Minorities In Production, Part II: Reflections, Observations

Creating Opportunities for Women & Minorities In Production, Part III

Her.Stories: West Memphis Three, Iranian women’s rights, feminism in Canada and more

Interview with Director Amy Berg and Producer Lorri Davis – West of Memphis
at Women and Hollywood

This is a film I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  More than 10 years ago I heard about the West Memphis Three through something I read or heard from Henry Rollins, and soon after, saw a fascinating and heartbreaking documentary film about Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley, all just kids when they were accused, tried, convicted and sentenced (living for years on death row) for the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.  This was a deliberate effort by the criminal justice system to “hang” these young men for the disgusting and abominable murder of three young boys despite evidence pointing to the stepfather of one of the boys as the murderer.  The story of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley is a story of injustice that was overcome — in part (they are now out of prison but are still fighting (and paying for, quite literally), to be legally absolved of all charges) — through years of tedious and torturous work by legal teams including Echols’ now wife, Lorri Davis; celebrity supporters (among them Henry Rollins, Margaret Cho, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, and Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson who produced this film); and unfathomable dedication.  Berg’s film opens in theaters on December 25.

Khaleeji women filmmakers push boundaries, gently
at Variety Arabia

Festival addresses Iranian women’s rights
at the Daily Targum

Still from the documentary film “Sister” by Brenda Davis

Interview With Filmmaker Brenda Davis on “Sister,” her new documentary film about healthcare for childbearing women in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Haiti (includes VIDEO CLIP)
at Tadias

 

 

For Women’s Sake, the film festival Our Lives…To Live (with a theme of “NO! to gender violence”)
at the Indian Express

No Country for Young Women multimedia project in production on showcase of women in film
at the Virginia Film Office

Heroines of Cinema: An A-Z of Women in Film in 2012
at Indiewire

Top 10 Female Hindi Film Directors to Look Out For!
at Miss Malini

Filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami

“The Scream” raises Yemen women’s voices in Dubai, directed by Khadija al-Salami who was forced to marry at 11 years old
at Middle East Online

 

 

Whistler Film Festival 2012: Director Karen Cho on the Status Quo of feminism in Canada
at Straight.com

Filmmaker Nishtha Jain

Interview: Nishtha Jain, Director, “Gulabi Gang” about gender violence, rights of the poor
at Dear Cinema

 

 

 

Interview with Director Stephanie Assimacopoulo of “Le Train Bleu” (includes VIDEO CLIP)
at Disarray

Review: “Bag It” (2010)

A film by Suzan Beraza

Bag It is a documentary that follows Jeb into the world of the omnipresent single-use plastic bag.  Plastic bags are the number one consumer item in the world.  Americans consume about one million plastic bags per minute.  He finds out they are expecting their first child and this gets him more concerned about plastic bags and chemicals that could harm his child.

Plastic bags are being banned in countries across the world.  With any luck, the US will take their lead and get rid of them once and for all.  The American Chemistry Council would like to see their plastic in rotation for as long as possible.  Unfortunately, they have the money to back them and can easily win legal battles.  They also duped Americans into thinking that most plastic is recyclable because of the revolving arrow recycle symbol.  In reality, only a few of these (HDPE and PETE) are actually recyclable.  There are no regulations for recycling and vary from state to state.  I was appalled when I moved to Montana and found out that recycling wasn’t even mandatory.

The oceans and marine life are at great risk due to plastics.  Sea turtles will see plastic bags and eat them mistaking them for jellyfish.  So many species are ingesting and continually exposed to plastic.  Sadly, plastic kills about 100,000 marine animals per year.  All the plastic in the seas comes from land sources.

They also talk in length about phthalates and BPA’s (endocrine disruptors) and how they are affecting us, especially infants.  Boys are becoming more feminized and girls are becoming masculinized.  There is also a direct correlation with exposure to BPA’s and ADHD and autism as well as low sperm count and type II diabetes.  We need to deal with these chemicals now to protect our children and their children.

 Within minutes of finishing the film I had my kids scouring the house for plastic bags.  We loaded them up and recycled them at our local grocery store.  We decided to take all the plastic milk jug tops and clean them to make an art project.  I checked our toiletry products and made note of the ones that probably contain phthalates (contain Parfum/fragrance) so I wouldn’t purchase them again.  The BPA’s are a little trickier, but we are trying to purchase less canned goods.  They stress in the film that everyone can do a little bit to pitch in, and it will end up making a big difference.  Three easy things you can do are bring your own bag, bring your own coffee cup, and bring your own water bottle.  And buy less stuff! Hopefully, after watching Bag It, you will also feel moved to do whatever you can to curb your use of plastic and steer clear of phthalates and BPA’s.  Check out www.bagitmovie.com to learn how to get more involved.

Watch the trailer:

 

You can follow Bag It on twitter @BagItMovie and on facebook at fb.com/BagItMovie.

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Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the HF.Reviews page.

Her.Stories: Sexism rife in drama world, Aida Begic’s film chosen for Oscars, Gaylene Preston to direct NZ drama, Shola Lynch’s new doc

Gainesville Latino Film Festival Kicks Off, Produced by the Latina Women’s League
at Gainesville.com

Sharon Lawrence: “Listen to Your Own Heart and to Another Woman’s Story”
at the Huffington Post

Parade’s End director says sexism is still rife in drama world: Directors’ group to investigate after Cannes film festival snubs women for Palme d’Or prize
at The Guardian

Bosnia selects ‘Children’ for Oscar race: Aida Begic’s film premiered at Cannes
at the Chicago Tribune

‘The Headless Woman’ Director Lucrecia Martel To Return With ‘Zama’
at The Playlist

Patricia Riggen Directing Chilean Miners Film, The 33
at Women and Hollywood

Magnet Releasing Embraces Xan Cassavetes’ Erotic Vampire Film ‘Kiss of the Damned’
at Indiewire

Gaylene Preston to Direct New Zealand Earthquake Dramatic Series, Receives $5M from NZ on Air
at the New Zealand Herald

On Screen & On Scene: ‘Somewhere Between’ (documentary by Linda Goldstein Knowlton)
at Hyphen Magazine

 

S&A In Conversation: Shola Lynch Talks ‘Free Angela & All Political Prisoners’
at Shadow and Act

Toronto: ‘Inch’Allah’ Director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette On Her Politically Charged Drama
at Indiewire

Audio: Behind the film Dreams Of A Life on Detour
at Triple R

New film: “The Light in Her Eyes” tells story of Muslim woman who teaches the Quran to women & girls

“A woman is a school. Teach her and you teach a generation.”

Muslim preacher Houda Al-Habash teaches women and girls the Quran at her mosque in Damascus, Syria, something she’s been doing for 30 years.  This is the story of “The Light in Her Eyes,” a new documentary film from Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix.  The film will be screening on September 19 in Austin, Texas, and will have several other screenings around the country this fall.  Take a look at the Screenings & Events page on the film’s website for dates, times and locations, or to host a screening yourself.

I missed the film’s premiere, unfortunately, as I was out of the country most of July.  Maybe some of you caught it on PBS on July 19?  If not, you can watch a trailer below, or just catch a screening in your town!

Check out an interview with Meltzer and Nix in The Austin Chronicle by clicking here.

Follow the film on twitter @lightinhereyes.
Read more about the film on the official website.

Review: “Detropia” (2012)

The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. Is the Midwestern icon actually a canary in the American coal mine? DETROPIA is a cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

A Film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

“Detropia” is a documentary by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, 12th and Delaware, The Boys of Baraka).  The film showcases the bleak and hard times Detroit has gone through.  The film follows three main Detroiters:  Crystal Starr is a video blogger and also works at a local café; Tommy Stephens is a retired school teacher who now owns the Raven Lounge; and George McGregor is the President of the Local 22 United Auto Workers Union.  Through these Detroiters you get a glimpse of what life is like in Detroit and what might be the future of the D and America.

Throughout the film you are given facts about Detroit and the United States.  People are leaving Detroit at an alarming rate.  What once was the fastest growing city in the world has now seen over 100,000 abandoned homes and empty lots in the past 10 years.  The film has an appropriately dark and depressing tone to give everyone a wake-up call to what our country is in for.  This isn’t an isolated incident.  All over the country we have seen people losing their jobs and homes every day.  Tommy Stephens gave a great analogy about helping your neighbor if their house is on fire.  If you don’t help them then the fire is coming to you.  Detroit suffered and didn’t get the help it needed and now that downward spiral is headed to the rest of the nation.  The Mayor wanted to try and start a “Detroit Works Project” to move people from sparsely populated neighborhoods to more densely populated neighborhoods.  Detroiters were outraged and didn’t think that this would make any difference.   Even though there have been many people leaving Detroit there has been an increase of adults under the age of 35 moving into downtown Detroit.  The housing is so affordable that it makes it easy for people, especially artists, to purchase a home in the downtown area.

One of the toughest things to face is the fact that over 50,000 factories have closed in the United States, and this has resulted in a loss of over 6 million jobs.  George talks about how America used to manufacture everything.  We even built planes here during World War II.  Unfortunately, most of the jobs have been outsourced overseas to cut costs.  He also talks about how the middle class was born in Detroit.  People used to flock to the city to get a job.  Now people are down and out and have turned to other avenues for income such as collecting scrap metal to sell.

Some facts about Detroit:

  • The jobless rate for Detroiters is estimated to be 30%.  Most of the positive effect of the government bailout of the auto industry has been focused in other parts of Michigan.
  • Facing a $12 billion deficit, Detroit narrowly averted bankruptcy in April 2012 by going into a consent agreement, or a power sharing deal with the state.
  • In May 2012, Detroit announced it would shut off half its streetlights due to budget woes.
  • In June 2012, 169 firefighters were laid off.
  • In 1930, Detroit was the fastest-growing city in the world. (The Guardian)
  • Detroit’s population decreased by more than 25% in the last decade. (The New York Times)
  • The median Detroit home price in 2011 was about $54,000 — more than $100,000 less than the rest of the country.

I was impressed with the overall sense that Detroiters have hope for the future.  Many are extremely loyal to their city and refuse to leave.  The automakers have started to make a profit again and there seems to be more good news around the corner.  Detroiters can be an inspiration to fellow Americans in the sense that even though times are tough you have to keep your head up and have hope for a better tomorrow.

Detropia releases in New York at the IFC Center on Friday, September 7.  For screenings in New York and across the country, please click here.

To learn more about Detropia, visit the official website.

You can visit Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s production company at Loki Films.

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Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the HF.Reviews page.

Her.Stories: Nina Simone biopic, Toronto Int’l Film Fest, Sweden & women filmmakers, and For a Good Time, Call…

The Controversy Surrounding the Casting of Zoë Saldana                
as Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort’s New Biopic

Cynthia Mort is writer/director of a yet to be titled biopic(ish) of the legendary singer/musician Nina Simone.  With Mary J. Blige originally attached (for several years before she departed the project allegedly due to financial problems with the production), Zoë Saldana has recently been cast as Simone.  There has been an outcry about this mainly around the fact that Saldana bears no resemblance to Simone, but also because Saldana is a Latina (she’s also black, by the way) and has a lighter skin tone than Simone.  Director Mort has indicated that it’s not a strict biopic as it takes liberties with the facts (one of which is that Simone had an affair with a gay man — she didn’t).  Even Simone’s daughter, whose name is simply “Simone,” has spoken out against the story, and has claimed that following an initial conversation with Mort where they agreed to speak again, Simone was met with silence for, as Mort explains separately in an Entertainment Weekly interview, she was told not to communicate with Simone.

One disturbing fact about this entire conversation is that I have seen several articles that refer to Saldana explicitly as “Dominican,” without mentioning the fact she is multiracial — yes, she is a Latina, but she is also a Black Latina (and there are a great many number of Black Latinos in the world).  Also, this is not to disregard that she may be more than “just” Latina and Black.  The language used to describe her as a Latina, while simultaneously avoiding that she is also Black smacks to me of a sort of ethnocentrism which pits the Latino community against the Black community and dismisses Saldana’s ethnic, racial and cultural complexities (just like we all have).  Yes, I’m in agreement that the casting is bad because of the complete lack of resemblance Saldana holds to Simone (and yes, resemblance also includes skin tone), but I do not think that “she’s not Black, but Latina,” is a valid argument against Saldana being cast in the role; in fact, that argument is completely fallacious.  That is one reason I wanted to provide this digest, to not only follow along with the controversy surrounding a biopic of a woman I greatly admire and have been a fan of for years, but also to address, in some small way, the prejudiced approach that many journalists and those choosing to leave comments on news sites, have taken with regard to Saldana playing Nina Simone.

What are YOUR thoughts? Please leave a reply below.

*MUST READ*:  We Need To Educate Ourselves On Race vs. Ethnicity (And Other Things I Learned From The Ongoing Zoe Saldana/Nina Simone Conversation)
at Shadow and Act

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone: My thoughts
at the Monique Blog: race, entertainment, culture

Nina Simone’s Daughter on Her Mother’s REAL Legacy
at Ebony

Will ‘Avatar’ Actress Zoe Saldana Play Legendary Singer Nina Simone?
at The Daily Beast

Disappearing Acts: Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone & The Erasure of Black Women in Film
at The Huffington Post

Nina Simone’s Daughter Responds to Zoe Saldana Casting, Says Film Is ‘Unauthorized’
at Clutch Magazine

Larger-than-life: Nina Simone film writer-director, others, on beauty, challenge of musician biopics
at Entertainment Weekly

Casting Notice For Nina Simone Project Reveals More About What To Expect…
at indieWIRE

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Other stories about women in film this week:

Toronto & Women Directors
at Wellywood Woman

The Smart and Funny Young Women Behind the Most Surprisingly Empowering Movie of the Year
at The Huffington Post

More Female Documentary Directors, But Celluloid Ceiling Remains
at The Wrap

Ann Richards Film Recalls a Woman and Her Era
at the New York Times

First-Time Director Leslye Headland Talks About Her Uproarious Comedy ‘Bachelorette’
at Backstage

Reichert honore for lifetime achievement in film
at YS News

Venice film festival: female directors get recognition for a change
at The Guardian

LUND 2012: New Wave Of Titles Focus On Female Filmmakers In Genre Film
at Twitch Film