AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

12/13/14

The Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2014


         Best Foreign Film: Two Days, One Night

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of sixty-five women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. We came together in 2004 to form the first women critics organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. Here are our WFCC Tenth Anniversary Film Awards:

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2014

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

Still Alice

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Selma: Ava Duvernay

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Ida: Rebecca Lenkiewicz [Co-screenwriter]

BEST ACTRESS

Julianne Moore: Still Alice

BEST ACTOR

Eddie Redmayne: The Theory Of Everything

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

 Mira Grosin: We Are The Best


 BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Jenny Slate: Obvious Child

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Two Days, One Night

BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Horrible Bosses 2
       
BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
  
Love Is Strange

WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
   
Dumb And Dumber To

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Citizenfour

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
The Skeleton Twins

BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Girlhood

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

TIE: Life Itself, The Skeleton Twins

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE

Winnie: Boxtrolls

BEST FAMILY FILM
Big Hero 6

WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE

The Homesman

*SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS*


COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
LAURA POITRAS: For bringing the Edward Snowden NSA revelations to light in Citizenfour, and driven into exile in Germany for doing so.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD:
A film that most passionately opposes violence against women
Frontera
Private Violence
 
*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
Anita: Speaking Truth To Power

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD:
For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
Belle

ACTING AND ACTIVISM AWARD
Rosario Dawson

For her work with The Lower East Side Girls Club; the environmental group Global Cool; the ONE Campaign; Oxfam; Amnesty International; Voto Latino; V-Day, a global non-profit movement that raises funds for women's anti-violence groups; RESPECT! Campaign, a movement aimed at preventing domestic violence; and countless other organizations.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Oprah Winfrey

COURAGE IN ACTING: [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Julianne Moore: Still Alice

BEST FEMALE ACTION STAR
Oprah Winfrey: Selma


THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
Felicity Jones: The Theory Of Everything

WOMAN'S RIGHT TO MALES ROLES IN MOVIES
Jessica Chastain: Interstellar

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD:


*TIE
  Charlotte Gainsbourg: Nymphomaniac

  Uma Thurman: Nymphomaniac
 










JUST KIDDING AWARDS

*Best Female Images: Nymphomaniac

*Forty-Plus Female Empowerment Award: For the producers who give women over forty  meaningful roles in movies on a regular basis, in an industry where forty is the new  ninety-five - and as other than maniacs and witches.

*Merry Macho Award: Seth Rogen and James Franco: For advancing the cause of world peace  with their presidential assassination comedy, The Interview. And who knows, while possibly mulling the  Interview II sequel comedy, the assassination of US President Obama. And for further extending  Hollywood as a wing of the US military and CIA, following leaked email revelations that the US State Department advocated Sony to use the film to help bring down the DPRK government.

BEST LINE IN A MOVIE:
Big Hero 6: 'Stop Whining. Woman Up!'

**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.


CONTACT: Criticalwomen@gmail.com

12/9/14

The Women Film Critics Circle Award Nominations 2014

                  Kristen Stewart, Camp X-Ray

The Women Film Critics Circle has announced its 2O14 unique nominations for the best movies this year by and about women. And outstanding achievements by women, who rarely get to be honored historically in the film world.

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 65 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media.

They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics' organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. And WFCC is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in the country by far, and best reflecting the diversity of movie audiences.

Critical Women On Film, a presentation of The Women Film Critics Circle, is their journal of discussion and theory. And a gathering of women's voices expressing a fresh and differently experienced perspective from the primarily male dominated film criticism world.

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Camp X-Ray
The Homesman
Still Alice
Two Days, One Night


BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Belle
Selma
The Babadook
The Pretty One


BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Belle: Misan Sagay
Ida: Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Obvious Child: Gillian Robespierre
The Babadook: Jennifer Kent


BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard: Two Days, One Night
Carol Kane: Clutter
Julianne Moore: Still Alice
Kristen Stewart: Camp X-Ray


BEST ACTOR
Tom Hardy: Locke
Tommy Lee Jones: The Homesman
Eddie Redmayne: The Theory Of Everything
Jeremy Renner: Kill The Messenger


BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

Mira Grosin: We Are The Best
Lorelei Linklater: Boyhood
Saoirse Ronan: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhane Wallis: Annie


BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

Anna Kendrick: Happy Christmas
Helen Mirren: The Hundred-Foot Journey
Jenny Slate: Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig: Skeleton Twins


BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Ida
Two Days, one Night
We Are The Best
Zero Motivation


BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Belle
Lucky Them
Obvious Child
1,000 Times Good Night


WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Gone Girl
Nymphomaniac
Sex Tape
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For


BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Cesar Chavez
Kill The Messenger
Love Is Strange
The Homesman


WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Bad Words
Big Eyes
Dumb And Dumber To
Listen Up Philip


BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Girlhood
Ukraine Is Not A Brothel


WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE
The Homesman
Two Days, One Night
We're The Best
Zero Motivation


SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

*COURAGE IN FILMMAKING:
CitizenFour


*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women

Frontera
Private Violence

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America

Anita: Speaking Truth To Power
The Maid's Room


*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

Belle
Big Eyes

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]

Carla Juri: Wetlands
Julianne Moore: Still Alice
Hilary Swank: The Homesman
Reese Witherspoon: Wild


THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

Amy Adams: Big Eyes
Patricia Arquette: Boyhood
Felicity Jones: The Theory Of Everything
Hilary Swank: The Homesman


BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Anita: Speaking Truth To Power
CitizenFour
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
She's Beautiful When She's Angry


MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Nymphomaniac


BEST SCREEN COUPLE
Boyhood
Elsa & Fred
Obvious Child
Skeleton Twins

BEST LINE IN A MOVIE
Big Hero 6: “Stop whining. Woman up!”

A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO MALE ROLES IN MOVIES
Jessica Chastain: Interstellar

JUST KIDDING AWARDS:
 

*Forty-Plus Female Empowerment Award: For the producers who give women over forty meaningful roles in movies on a regular basis, in an industry where forty is the new ninety-five - and as other than maniacs and witches.

*Merry Macho Award: Seth Rogen and James Franco: For advancing the cause of world peace with their presidential assassination comedy, The Interview, and for further extending Hollywood as a wing of the US military and the CIA. And, while possibly mulling the Interview II sequel comedy -  the assassination of President Obama.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower20rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a "bad day." Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD:
Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

12/1/14

Remembering Luise Rainer


 Golden Age of Hollywood's social activist screen goddess Luise Rainer just passed away at the age of 104. And, who is said to have used her Oscars as doorstops. Film historian David Spaner reports from Vancouver. 


10/7/14

Gone Girl: Marriage, Murder And The Media


By Veronica Mixon

The literary buzz about Gillian Flynn’s novel and the anticipation of David Fincher’s film based on the author’s screenplay, is well worth the fuss by the news and social media.  Gone Girl is the most satisfying dramatic mystery that I’ve seen in many, many years.
 

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne who are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, when Amy simply disappears.  Nick promptly calls the police to his elegant suburban home, and they look at a smashed glass coffee table and a tiny blood smear in the kitchen and begin to suspect foul play.  
 

As they search for Amy, who is well-known because her parents used her as a character in a series of children’s books, the media coverage surrounding this possible tragedy swells into a frenzy of neighbors, curiosity seekers and obsessed fans.  However, Nick’s cool, aloof manner wins him few friends.  While the police led by Detective Boney (Kim Dickens) and the public idolize the beautiful images of his blonde wife, Nick is demonized because he’s an unemployed writer desperate to be liked.  Also, the veneer of his not-so-perfect marriage begins to crumble, and the only support Nick receives is from his sister (Carrie Coon), who honestly confides, “whoever took her is bound to bring her back.”
 

Ms. Flynn has written a superb tale of narcissism in a marriage, and the fantasy and lurid fascination with celebrity constructed from the news.  Director Fincher, whose films include Seven, Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, calls this public obsession ‘Tragedy Vampirism.’  He loves delving into the murky world of human folly and bad decisions, and he’s assembled an excellent cast to bring this story to light. 
 

Oscar winner (Argo), Ben Affleck is fearless in his portrayal of feckless Nick.  On and off screen, he’s no stranger to intense media scrutiny, and plays this part perfectly.  The lovely Rosamund Pike, best known for Pride & Prejudice, Die Another Day and Jack Reacher, astounds audiences with an intricate portrait of determined woman with many dark corners.  Watching these two people, you realize that the romantic notion of marriage is a fragile bubble. And, you wonder if underneath it all, how much of marriage is lying.
 

The cast also includes Tyler Perry as Nick’s smart media savvy attorney, and Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s weird former beau. Boyd Holbrook and Lora Kirke are equally compelling as a menacing, trashy duo who dispense important life lessons to one of the principle character.
 

Together Ms. Flynn and Mr. Fincher have created a wonderfully twisted film about modern marriage. Whether you’re satisfied or not with the ending, you will not forget this film.

Veronica Mixon is film critic and editor of Film Gazette. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

6/29/14

Tracks: Are Female Nomads In Movies A Different Discussion?


Tracks is the second dramatic feature to be released recently about a long distance, emotionally fueled journey by a woman on foot. With Mia Wasikowska's Aussie Outback nomad in Tracks following in elder melancholy matriarch Shirley Knight's footsteps, so to speak, in Redwood Highway. But, is it?

The biopic is based on the real life mid-1970s, nearly year long self-proclaimed solo expedition of misanthropic loner Robyn Davidson's determined coast to coast punishing personal quest across 2,000 miles of mostly desert terrain, and with four camels and her dog for companionship. But Tracks displays unintentionally or not, its own conflict in narrative terms. That is, as crafted by first time screenwriter Marion Nelson, between negotiating inner psychological turmoil and the both deathly and dreary physical ordeal of survival in the wilderness.

And while the search for balance tends to favor the immense grandeur, dominance and danger of raw nature, the inner life of Mia's emotionally damaged twentysomething female in flight, diminishes in comparison. In other words, displaying Davidson's hermetic soul, rather than grasping, articulating and plummeting its depths.

Directed by US filmmaker John Curran and based on Australian writer Davidson's memoir, Tracks is in a sense a Eurocentric travelogue more than anything else. And with the impoverished and thwarted lives of the aborigines encountered along the way, simply part of the exotic scenery as well.

Though Wasikowska's intensely grueling performance impressively distills an abundance of unspoken muted fury from the relatively meager when not overly melodramatic material that she is burdened with, physically and psychologically. And not unlike say, Kevin Costner's similar weighty existential pilgrimage, here conveyed in her own sort of Dances With Camels across the Australian wilderness.

Prairie Miller

5/12/14

Clutter Movie Review: Carol Kane Channels Female Scars Embodied In The Emotional Meaning Of Things


....The embodiment of inanimate objects with all sorts of magical meanings and psychological illusions, needs and desires is nothing new. Embedded in a US culture whose rampant throwaway consumer lust thrives on such financially lucrative fetishism in the marketplace.

But even less acknowledged is a peculiar kind of related pathological fallout from the unhealthy clinging to stuff, substituting for real human relationships. Namely, hoarding. Which is the subject of Diane Crespo's eloquent dramatic feature conveying disintegrating families ties and torment, Clutter....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller

5/2/14

Walk Of Shame: Elizabeth Banks Sassy Strut In Mean Streets LA Underbelly Romp


.... No matter the story in movies lately, whether solemn or silly, they usually seem to end up being about joblessness these days - or the frustrating search for employment. And while the latter sentiment of laughs on the light side may best characterize Steven Brill's urban comedy, Walk Of Shame, there's a lot kicking in from the sidelines too in this LA underbelly romp, checking in to the proceedings as a kind of goofy along with grim state of the nation journey....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller

3/28/14

Nymphomaniac I & II: Magical Sadism, Sex Noir And Porn For Eggheads

By Prairie Miller

More over, Blue Is The Warmest Color. In a brazen mix and match of genres and genitals, the notorious Danish bad boy of cinema Lars von Trier would seem to be psychoanalyzing himself in this more tedious than titillating, sleazy when not intellectually stuffy showdown between the sex addict in question and her celibate savior recluse.

And while screen porn has tended to bid for a pass with the censors by dressing up its bare behinds metaphorically in moralistic taglines and scriptural platitudes, Trier blankets his own ensemble backsides. That is, with the pretentious chatter arthouse stamp of approval.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is Joe, the somewhat gender-ambivalent muse standing in for Trier's own hangups as perhaps simultaneously appetite driven and obsessively burrowing into the seductive female mysteries that tantalize him. Which may lead the filmmaker's shrink to demand a screenplay credit at some point.

And not to forget that Trier abandoned his pregnant wife for their young babysitter - a scenario that might be said to sort of play out in Nymphomaniac II, when the androgynous Joe abandons her own infant for sexual pursuits. And is subsequently punished by her scorned spouse (Shia LaBeouf) and his new post-adolescent prey - who is in fact two timing the original extra-marital two timer, Joe. Don't ask.

Meanwhile, or for the four hour ensuing duration to be precise, strictly auto-erotic hermit Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), retrieves Joe's battered body from an alley and proceeds to nurse her back to health. While existential matters periodically intervene, related to primary conscious notions we don't share with the animal kingdom. And not just awareness of mortality, but the possibility however precarious, of human ethics and conscience as well.

And as the asexual looking, scrawny storyteller sips tea from a very large bowl. And Joe in turn seems to offer as compensation a litany of her lifetime of sordid sexual adventures precipitated in childhood, evidently of far greater interest to the erotically deprived eager bookworm, than anybody in the audience. Not at all a good sign.

Identity issues are nothing new for Trier, whether on screen or the real world. And as a child raised by a Jewish father and communist mother, the latter confessing on her deathbed to Trier that his real secret father was her nazi employer, in her quest for a man with an "artistic" gene pool. And apparently, an illustrious family of Danish composers including Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann and Niels Viggo Bentzon. And when subsequently searching for his biological father, Trier was referred by the elusive 90 year old, to his lawyers instead.

Then there's the scandal that played out at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for Trier's award winning Melancholia. When he took to the stage and irrelevant to the conversation in progress, rambled on about Hitler not being such a bad guy and his admiration in some ways for him. Which led to the filmmaker being booted and banned from Cannes, and his own subsequent retraction of a sort of apologetic retraction. And a potential grudge alert against the world, in the manner in which he makes his movies.

Needless to say, Nymphomaniac whether One or Two, is sure to proceed as an ordeal for the perverted protagonist of this perhaps closet biopic, and the audience alike. Counting scientifically delineated foreplay, alphabetized lovers, far-fetched female pubescent pickup lines, math and sex, proper cake forks, Jewish pastry, the hunt for men in supermarkets, and a contemplation of all the foreskins in the world, stretching from here to Mars and back again. Or, dangling the likes of Pythagorean theorem, Bach, Poe, The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.

3/22/14

WFCC Jury Award For Sexual Violence Doc At Rated SR Festival

WFCC Jury Award members Chloe Glickman and Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi present award [center] for director Jessica Vale and her documentary, Small Small Thing

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

The WFCC Prize was awarded by the Women Film Circle Critics at the Rated SR Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York City on March 21st,  for the best feature by or about women. The prize was conferred by WFCC Jury presenters Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Chloe Glickman for director Jessica Vale and her documentary, Small Small Thing. Which delves into the tragedy of seven year old Liberian rape victim Olivia Zinnah who died in 2012 from her injuries, despite five years of medical treatments and the intervention of the Liberian government.

...The prize marks an important moment for this year’s festival, since Vanya Exerjian was an actress and producer, who passed away ten years ago and the festival was founded in her memory, and 2014 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Women Films Critic Circle organization. The WFCC is made up of 65 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, newswire, radio, online and TV broadcast media, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully.

The five women film critics from the organization who acted as jurors for the Vanya Exerjian award are: Chloe Glickman, Karen Benardello, Jhoanna Robledo Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Debra Wallace...

WFCC Jury Award members Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Chloe Glickman [center] with Rated SR Film Festival participants.

CONTINUE TO READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi writes for King’s Road Magazine and Shockya. Chiara is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

3/2/14

Annette Insdorf Talks Oscars With Chris Hayes On MSNBC



WFCC's Annette Insdorf  was invited to talk about Oscar predictions on the MSNBC show, All In with Chris Hayes. David Edelstein of New York Magazine and Christopher John Farley, senior editor of Speakeasy at the Wall Street Journal, also joined in.

**The Oscars gender gap. Chris Hayes talks to his panel about the relatively low bar that test a film's gender bias.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

**The Oscars and demographics of The Academy. Chris Hayes talks to the film critics about an actual Oscar ballot released by an anonymous Academy member.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

Annette Insdorf is the Director Of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and the author of Indelible Shadows: Film And The Holocaust, and other books on cinema. Professor Insdorf is an internationally renowned educator, and her works are hailed as the definitive texts on their subjects. She has also been a jury member of numerous international film festivals.

Annette Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

2/28/14

Yolanda Ross Talks Independent Spirit Awards and Memories of Philip Seymour Hoffman


Dynamic, singular and uber-talented, Yolonda Ross blazed a trail for herself that called the attention of film critics, audiences, her peers and the industry at-large, when she won IFP’s Breakthrough Actor Award in 2001. She was righteously lauded for her complex and urgent portrayal of a woman ‘on-the-outside’ world trying to pierce the walls of a prison by committing a crime, to find her way in to her definition of "home", in Cheryl Dunye's bold feature, Stranger Inside. Ironically, as an actress, she's also spent years, working to find her way ‘in’ and pierce the firm, often insular walls (albeit invisible) of the entertainment industry, where her creative soul knows that "finding home" is the place where she can get juicy work, and share her characters to their fullest with audiences. Not an easy mission met by talented actors, of color -- particularly when packaging, visibility, and casting come into play, in terms of truly breaking through.

That said, she certainly pierced another wall with her praised role as recent-parolee, Fontayne, in John Sayles' earthy, smart slow-burner, Go For Sisters. Financed independently by Sayles, Sisters has brought the spotlight back on the gifted Ms. Ross with her quietly magnetic, nuanced role. Alongside her dynamic co-star, Lisa Gaye Hamilton, she embarks on a road trip across the border -- later joined by Edward James Olmos -- to help her long-time friend, now a parole officer find her missing son, in a the underworld that Fontayne  knows a thing or two about. They're authentic ensemble to the core.

From collaborating with Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Labyrinth Theater Company, to filming, most recently, with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming Lila & Eve, to appearing in the daring short, Afronauts, that premiered at Sundance 2014, Yolonda has managed to keep herself busy with TV, theater and film work, along her path while working with some fiercely talented filmmakers; though it’s been quite a challenge to just ‘be seen and heard from’. Always hopeful, she's  We caught up with the soulful, clear-eyed Independent Spirit Best Supporting Actress Nominee, Yolonda Ross, who just so happens to be the only actor in her category from an independent film, made outside of ‘Hollywood’. And we say: Go Yolonda! 

Lisa Collins, Guest Host on Arts Express Radio
 

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE
 

Lisa Collins is an independent filmmaker and journalist, and she is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle. Lisa was named by Filmmaker Magazine: 'One of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.' She was invited to workshop her feature-length script, The Grass Is Greener at the Sundance Writers, Filmmakers and Producers Labs, respectively. The project was also invited to participate in the IFFM / IFP’s No Borders Feature Project program.
 

Lisa's feature documentary is Oscar's Comeback, in which 2 worlds collide at a unique annual festival in all-white town that celebrates their black native son, early 1900s homesteader-turned-film-pioneer, Oscar Micheaux. Controversial and largely forgotten, Micheaux is known to some as the Godfather of Independent Cinema. In addition to receiving support and mentorship from prestigious organization, Oscar's Comeback is proud to have been awarded repeated support from Chicken & Egg Pictures, in the form of an I Believe In You grant. More information about the project is at Oscar's Comeback on Facebook. 
Lisa Collins is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

2/15/14

And The Oscar Does Not Go To ... Nicole Holofcener


 By S. Jhoanna Robledo

There Can Never Be 'Enough Said' About This Academy Snub

'....It’s not easy to write people as complex and exposed as these. Unfortunately, the Oscars don’t always reward those who write them. Especially female writers. Of the 14 screenwriters nominated for 10 movies in the original and adapted screenplay categories this year, only two are women: Julie Delpy for the excellent Before Midnight and Melisa Wallack for Dallas Buyers Club. (Both share credit with male co-authors.)
So to hell with the Oscars. They break our hearts, and we’re too old for that shit...'

CONTINUE TO READ ARTICLE HERE

S. Jhoanna Robledo is contributing editor at New York Magazine. She has written for Self and Real Simple, and Babycenter.com, and she is the film critic at CommonSenseMedia.org. S. Jhoanna Robledo is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

1/30/14

Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth - A Conversation With Gloria Steinem


 Currently journeying across India to continue her life mission and passion to promote the rights of women, children, and the impoverished and persecuted wherever she can, Steinem took time out to talk about a very different project close to her heart. The upcoming premiere on PBS television in this country of a documentary about Alice Walker, her lifelong friend, colleague and comrade in arms fighting the good fight for women and the oppressed everywhere. The documentary directed by outspoken Nairobi born British-Indian filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, is American Masters' Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth.

Steinem has long championed issues connected to human trafficking, pornography and prostitution these many decades, since the time as a young woman when she went undercover as a Playboy Bunny to expose exploitative working conditions there. A civil, human, reproductive rights and anti-war activist, Steinen was also co-founder of Ms. Magazine, where Walker worked under her.

Steinem communicated in writing with Arts Express for this interview, as her excursion across rural India rendered phone communication problematic. She talks about the documentary, her inspirational close friendship with Alice Walker, her participation in this film, what Steinem feels has been accomplished in her global struggle against injustice, and what remains to be done. And most significantly, the greater life journey that binds these two exceptional women together, in the words of Alice Walker, 'Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.' Here's Gloria Steinem...

You appear in a new documentary premiering in February, American Masters - Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, directed by Pratibha Parmar. What do you feel this latest cinematic look into the life and work of Alice Walker brings that is new and different to the table?

GLORIA STEINEM: Readers know Alice's creations and many know something about her life, but this is the first time both have been seen together. There is a physical and spiritual force to Alice's thoughts coming from her physical self -- that offers an all-five-senses truth. I think we know instinctively when a writer's words and her or his life are at odds, but this documentary proves they are one.

How do you feel Walker and her writings have inspired you in your own life, and what qualities of hers do you most identify with?

GS: I feel she is ahead of me on the path -- one in which we behave as if everything we do matters. The truth is that we don't know in the moment which thing will matter, but we can try to be authentic in each one, no matter how small. I've learned from watching Alice that activists destroy themselves when they pretend that the end justifies the means. The means you choose dictate the ends you get.

What was your relationship like when you worked together at Ms., and what do you feel 
Walker brought to the magazine that further illuminated and transformed its scope and content?

GS: First, I admired Alice's writing, and then we got to know each other in a more personal way. At Ms., she contributed uniquely not only by her own work, but by bringing in the writing of Bessie Head and many other African writers. She didn't come to many editorial meetings - she's a more solitary person - and yet the magazine would not have been the same without her.

What do you feel is Walker's lasting influence and legacy pertaining to both art and social issues, and how she changed the national cultural and political conversation in significant ways?

GS: Alice is a truth-teller, including painful truths about racial or class biases within the women's movement, and within the civil rights movement toward women. As I heard a young African American man say at one of her readings, "I've become a much better person under the care and feeding of Alice Walker's writing." I think millions feel that - and also beyond this country.

For instance, she used the language of country people in The Color Purple and other writings - without apostrophes to show misspellings etc. -- without condescension - and it is true and poetic. I accidentally met her translators in both Japan and China. Each told me that to be true to Alice, they had used the language of their own country people, and it was the first time this had been done in "high" literature in their knowledge, too. If you do one true thing, it makes change wherever it goes.

We see in this film Walker's strained relationship with her daughter, which is a fairly universal problem to varying degrees, visited upon women who choose to be more than mothers in their lives, and in the absence of social safety nets to help them do so. What do you feel can be done about this predicament mothers face?

GS: I think a single standard would help. Either we talk about the children of well-known fathers and mothers equally, or we leave that in a private sphere. The very big unfairness is that mothers are treated very differently from fathers. Her daughter writes a lot about her mother, but that's part of the judgment of her writing, not Alice's.

What book or poem of hers do you most relate to, and why?
GS: I can't choose. I give "New Face" to every couple in love, and I re-read her poetry often because it's like grass on the page; you can't imagine anything more natural. I love "My Father's Country Is the Poor" because it embodies the feelings of all of us who travel far from our origins. "The Color Purple is the only great novel about poor people that is read and loved by poor people. All the rest seem likely to other-ize their subjects. I could go on and on.

There is a Walker quote in the film, 'Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.' How do you feel that concept has touched your own life, both positively and negatively, and what do you think you've accomplished well in that regard, and haven't done as well as you wish you would have?

GS: I feel she is giving me permission to do what I love - which is organize. I feel I haven't lived up to Alice or myself when I waste time. After all, time is all there is...

How do you feel your views and strategies for social transformation have changed over the years, and is there anything you would have done differently?

GS: I wouldn't have repeated what I already know how to do, I would have wasted less time, and I would have been better at conflict.

You're in India now, where gang rape has emerged as a horrific issue. How far do you feel the women's movement has come, and what do you think remains to be done?

GS: We're barely half way into this wave. What we call the First Wave won a legal identity for females as humans, not chattel, in most countries. Now we're trying for legal and social equality, yet in the US we don't even yet have equal pay or reproductive freedom as a basic human right - and female status in the world is all about controlling female bodies as the means of reproduction.

There will probably be other waves after this one. For instance, you might say we've convinced most people that women can do what men can do, but we haven't even convinced ourselves that men can do what women do.

What advice do you have for younger women today?

GS: To listen to themselves and trust their own voices.
Sorry, now I have to go to a meeting here in Kolkatta!

Gloria

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth on PBS American Masters is a biography of the Pulitzer Prize winning writer, activist, and author of The Color Purple. The documentary features interviews with Alice Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and the late Howard Zinn in one of his final interviews. Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth begins airing nationwide on Friday, February 7th, and in honor of Walker's 70th birthday on February 9th. And Black History Month. Check local listings.

Prairie Miller
 

1/29/14

Material Puns: WFCC Member Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi Honored With UK and NYC Art Exhibits


NYC based Italian journalist and artist Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi has been honored with an exhibit of her work in the UK. The distinguished, multi-talented Renaissance woman and member of the Women Film Critics Circle, was a guest on WBAI Radio's Arts Express. Gabardi discusses her many projects, including her UK exhibit, Material Puns. And exactly what that means, and what it has to do with Gabardi's pursuit of the self-ironic in society.

LISTEN TO THE PROGRAM HERE

AND....

CHIARA'S PAINTINGS AT IFAC-ARTS NYC

It is my utmost pleasure to announce that some of my paintings will be part of the group show Family Affairs: An incestuous avant-garde survey of art at the International Fine Arts Consortium (The Yard) in New York. Located at 85 Delancey Street, NYC, and open from 6pm to 8pm daily. The show will last until April 30th.

The show is curated by Gregory de la Haba and Lee Wells.

Lee Wells  has exhibited internationally for over 15 years, including the Biennale Di Venezia, National Center for Contemporary Art Moscow, Kimpo/Seoul International Airport, PS1/MoMA, and The State Hermitage Museum, in addition to numerous art fairs, festivals and galleries; and has been written about by publications such as The New York Times, The Art Newspaper, The Washington Post and Art Net.

The show will feature paintings by various contemporary artists , as well as works by Keith Haring, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Banksy, Andy Warhol and many more!

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi writes for King’s Road Magazine, British Foreign Press Association, Filmagazine (Italy), Shockya, PMc Magazine. Chiara is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.


1/18/14

The Anti-Oscars 2013: The James Agee Cinema Circle Honors Director Laura Poitras


With Oscar wins based - no less than US multi-million dollar election victories - on who can afford to buy elections with the biggest bucks, The James Agee Cinema Circle has announced their Anti-Oscars, in recognition of artistic merit and humanistic values alone. In other words, unlike the Academy, which primarily focuses on entertainment or sensationalism while disregarding debasement targeting race, gender and class, the James Agee Cinema Circle bestows awards on all entries equally each year. And the only losers are relegated to their JACC Hall Of Shame.

With their citing of late iconic film critic Pauline Kael that 'Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising,' the Critics Chapter of JACC is described as 'an association of national and international critics, historians and film scholars who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media and analysis.'

'We have come together to form the first progressive critics organization, in the belief that idealistic perspectives, voices and diverse ideological visions in film criticism that speak with social conviction and consciousness, are sorely lacking as a public platform. We will be recognizing films embodying those humanistic ideals with our annual awards.

There are so many reasons for liking or hating a movie. One big mental roadblock is being knocked out by the performances, dramatic style or cinematography, but evaluating the story as a stinker. And the typical entertainment journalist and those for sale to the commercial media corporations, will argue that if a movie is well made, it doesn't matter if the content is reactionary, degrades, or dehumanizes, or even if it is disseminating untruths about real political and historical events.

But as JACC has so succinctly pointed out, why go to such lengths to lie, when you can just simply tell the truth. And that 'why' will be one of our many probing hot topics on the table.

So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there's just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.'

The Anti-Oscars 2013: The James Agee Cinema Circle Challenges The Academy Awards.....

1/1/14

Human Rights Lawyer/US Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart Freed


 Human rights lawyer and US political prisoner Lynne Stewart, freed from Texas prison on New Year's Eve, following mass campaign to US government to release her. In this interview while planning her return home to NYC, even as she battles terminal cancer, Lynne vows to help the incarcerated women there that she is leaving behind, for the rest of her remaining life.

LISTEN TO HER BREAKING NEWS INTERVIEW HERE

Lynne Stewart appears in the documentary about her legal comrade in arms, the late iconic William Kunstler, in William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe. She is also the subject of the Flavia Fontes documentary, Who's Afraid of Lynne Stewart. About which Fontes states:
'...This is the story of the first lawyer in the United States accused of supporting international terrorism after September 11th. Can Lynne Stewart prove her innocence..'