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.

‘Wadjda’ by Haifaa Al Mansour, first film made by Saudi woman and first film made in the KSA

Wadjda is a new film by Haifaa Al Mansour, the first Saudi woman filmmaker.  She is writer and director of the film.  To add to the enormous responsibility of representation she now carries, the film is also the first to be filmed completely inside Saudi Arabia.  While movie theaters are illegal in the country, producers have stated they plan to distribute it through “DVDs and TV channels” (Telegraph). You can watch two clips of the film below.

I’ve been excited about this film since I read about earlier this week, and am looking forward to seeing it (somehow, some day).  It screened at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, and has received quite a bit of press.  Check out the links below for more articles on Al Mansour, plus this week’s Her.Stories post.

From Al Mansour’s “Director’s Statement”:

I come from a small town in Saudi Arabia where there are many girls like Wadjda who have big dreams, strong characters and so much potential. These girls can, and will, reshape and redefine our nation. It was important for me to work with an all-Saudi cast, to tell this story with authentic, local voices.  (Read more.)

Have you see the film?  It’s a Saudi Arabia-Germany production, with most of the crew being German, but Al Mansour still had to deal with the exigencies of directing as a woman in Saudi Arabia where gender separation is required.  Without being able to direct the male cast or work with the male crew face to face, what did she do?  Worked from a van and used a walkie talkie.

Wadjda screened at La Biennale on August 31 and September 1.  Visit the film’s page on the festival’s website.

Watch an interview with Al Mansour at the Doha Film Institute’s website.

Read a review of Wadjda in Variety.

Watch clips from the film:

 

Her.Stories: First Saudi woman filmmaker, Julie Dash’s ‘Tupelo ’77’, Detropia, Mollywood, Telluride, Baghdad, TIFF, Abortion Rights Trilogy

Woman beats the odds to make first Saudi film
at Arab Times

First Saudi Female Director, Haifaa Al Mansour and her Film ‘Wadjda’ in Venice (with video interview)
at Euro News

Julie Dash’s 1970s-Set Drama ‘Tupelo 77’ Gets A Boost – Selected For International Financing Forum
at Shadow and Act

What Can Detroit Teach the Nation? Heidi Ewing on Detropia
at the Huffington Post
(Read Lotus’s recent review of DETROPIA.)

Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman’s Taking The Abortion Rights Trilogy on the Road
at OpEd News

‘Battle of the Sexes’ docu portrays women’s fight for equal pay in sports
at the Chicago Tribune

Amma Asante’s ‘Belle’ Moving Full Speed Ahead, Adds To Cast, Shooting Start Date Set
at Shadow and Act

The rising matriarchs of Mollywood (Malayalam film industry)
at DNA India

New Zealand Film Commission Shorts Films Announcement
at Wellywood Woman

First Look Pic, Official Synopsis For South African Thriller ‘Layla Fourie’ Starring Brit Rayna Campbell
at Shadow and Act

3-time Oscar-winner Thelma Schoonmaker wins 2nd Gucci award for women in film for ‘Hugo’
at The Washington Post

TIFF 2012: Female filmmakers in Toronto spotlight
at the Toronto Star

Women Filmmakers Ready to Rock Toronto
at the Huffington Post

TIFF Programer dishes on film roles for women, George Clooney and saying no at CityTV
at CityTV

Baghdad International Film Festival Selections + Arab Women Filmmakers Competition
at Baghdadfilmfest.com

La Femme Telluride
at Awards Daily

Venice: ‘Fill The Void’ Looks At Hasidic Community (film by Rama Burshtein)
at the Huffington Post

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

_______________________

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