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

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.


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

SUNDANCE: days 9-11

The Sundance Film Festival officially ends today, and awards were given out last night.  I’m encouraged that so many women received such international recognition for their films — see below for the list of winning films by women (as directors and writers).

Days 9-11


Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic & Excellence in Cinematography – U.S. Dramatic

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (co-writer Lucy Alibar)*

U.S. Directing Award: Documentary

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (director Lauren Greenfield)*

U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (writer-director Ava DuVernay)*

World Cinema Screenwriting Award

YOUNG & WILD (director & co-writer Marialy Rivas)

U.S. Documentary Editing Award

DETROPIA (directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady)

World Cinema Documentary Editing Award

INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE (directors & editors Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky)*

World Cinema: Documentary Special Jury Prize

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (director Alison Klayman)

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic

MY BROTHER THE DEVIL (writer-director Sally El Hosaini; cinematographer David Raedeker)

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing

NOBODY WALKS (director & co-writer Ry Russo-Young; co-writer Lena Dunham; producers Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling, Alicia Van Couvering)*

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary

PUTIN’S KISS (director Lise Birk Pedersen; cinematographer Lars Skree)*

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing

SMASHED (co-writer Susan Burke; producers Jennifer Cochis, Jonathan Schwartz, Andrew Sperling)

See the slideshow of all winning titles on the Sundance Channel website.

*Films have been picked up during the festival for theatrical or VOD distribution, except Indie Game which will be adapted into a fictional half-hour series for HBO.


Writer-director Julie Delpy’s film 2 Days in New York has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures.  Delpy also stars in the film opposite Chris Rock.  Magnolia will release the film via VOD (Video On Demand) as well as in theatres.  No word yet on which territories this covers (I’m assuming at least North America), or a firm release date.  Read the story over at Nikkie Finke’s Deadline Hollywood.

Magnolia has also picked up director & co-writer Ry Russo-Young’s feature film Nobody Walks which she co-wrote with Lena Dunham (most well-known for her film Tiny Furniture and her upcoming HBO series “Girls” which will premiere at SXSW in March, then on HBO in April).  Check out the story over at Reuters (incl. information on 2 Days in New York).

Check out all the distributors that picked up films at Sundance this year in this indieWIRE story.

I’m expecting more acquisitions to happen in the next few days and weeks and will try to update the Sundance film acquisitions list to include those titles.