Weekly Update for December 14: Women Centric, Directed, and Written Films Playing Near You


Mary Poppins Returns (Opens December 19)

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Mary Poppins Returns” is set in 1930s, Depression-era London — the time period of the original novels — and is drawn from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children, and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. (Press materials)

Find screening info here.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Opens in NY and LA)

Set in early-1970s Harlem, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect, and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. (Press materials)

Mortal Engines – Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson

“Mortal Engines”

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head. (Press materials)

Find screening info here.

The Second Time Around – Written by Sherry Soules and Leon Marr

Katherine Mitchell (Linda Thorson), a widowed yet vibrant senior, wasn’t looking for love a second time — not at her age, and certainly not with grumpy Isaac Shapiro (Stuart Margolin). Despite the nosey bunch of seniors in the residence where Katherine convalesces after breaking her hip, she and Isaac warm to each other over their shared love of music. Against unforeseen obstacles, their love blooms and together they set out to fulfill Katherine’s lifelong dream of going to the opera in Milan. (Press materials)



Capernaum – Directed by Nadine Labaki; Written by Nadine Labaki, Michelle Kesrouani, Jihad Hojeily, and Khaled Mouzanar (Opens in NY and LA)

The sole woman-directed film up for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at the upcoming Golden Globes, “Capernaum” tells the story of Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for bringing him into a world of pain and suffering. Co-writer and director Labaki spent four years researching the film, and it shows. The characters depicted — and the extreme poverty they live in — are neither sensationalized nor sentimental. As difficult as “Capernaum” is to watch, the film never devolves into manipulative poverty porn. Zain’s story is heartbreaking, but he’s never reduced to a symbol or a generic “victim” robbed of his distinct personality. The story is universal, but seen through one particular boy’s eyes. And Zain doesn’t want pity. He wants understanding. (Laura Berger)

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Nadine Labaki.

Find screening info here.

That Way Madness Lies… (Documentary) – Directed by Sandra Luckow; Written by Sandra Luckow and Anne Alvergue (Opens in NY and LA)

“That Way Madness Lies…”

What do you do when your brother descends into a black hole of mental instability — starting with falling for a Nigerian email scam but eventually winding up involuntarily committed into the hospital made famous by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”? Luckow unflinchingly turns her camera on her own family as they attempt to navigate the broken mental health system in an effort to save her brother, Duanne. His iPhone video diary ultimately becomes an unfiltered look at the mind of a man with untreated schizophrenia as well as an indictment of how the system failed. (Press materials)

Find screening info here.


“Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable”

A Very Lady Parts Christmas (Web Series Holiday Special) – Written and Directed by Wendy Placko (YouTube, Available Now)

Four women. Violent outbursts. Poignant social commentary. Irreverent humor. In “A Very Lady Parts Christmas,” the girls are back for a Christmas story full of wonder and woe. (Press materials)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale (Special Holiday Episode) (Premieres December 14 on Netflix)

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale”: Dean Buscher/Netflix

Because the Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, it’s a special holiday for witches “when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.” That makes it “the perfect time to conduct a séance.” As such, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) uses the opportunity to try contacting her mother, whom she last saw in mortal Purgatory during Season 1. (Inverse)

The Protector – Created by Binnur Karaevli (Premieres December 14 on Netflix)

Given mystical powers by a talismanic keepsake, a young man embarks on a quest to fight shadowy forces and to solve a mystery from his past. (Press materials)

Tidelands (Premieres December 14 on Netflix)

“Tidelands”: Jasin Boland/Netflix

When the body of a local fisherman washes ashore, the town’s clandestine relationship with drug smuggling is suddenly on public display. Cal (Charlotte Best) must uncover the town’s well-hidden secrets, while investigating a commune of outcasts who live in a hidden pocket of the bay — a group of beautiful and dangerous half-Siren/half-human “Tidelanders.” Elsa Pataky (“Fast and the Furious”) stars as the mysterious and alluring Adrielle Cuthbert, the leader of the Tidelanders who will go to any length to protect her tribe. (Press materials)

Blood – Directed by Lisa Mulcahy and Hannah Quinn; Written by Sophie Petzal (Premieres December 17 on Acorn TV)


Cat Hogan (Carolina Main) returns to West Meath upon her mother’s sudden, accidental death — or was it an accident? “Blood” is about old secrets, older betrayals, mind games, and the lies family tell each other. (Press materials)

Take Back the Harbor (Documentary) – Directed by Kristi Jacobsen and Roger Ross Williams (Premieres December 18 on Discovery Channel)

On New York’s Governor’s Island, an unprecedented program has an ambitious goal: to restore once-bountiful oysters and the environmental benefits they bring to New York Harbor. What’s more, the foot soldiers of this environmental movement are an unlikely group — high school students at a remarkable public school that teaches stewardship of the waterways alongside math and English. “Take Back the Harbor” highlights the stories and work of these extraordinary students and their inspiring teachers as they persevere to turn the tide on decades of neglect and bring back the health of New York City waterways. (Press materials)

Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (Comedy Special) – Written by Ellen DeGeneres (Premieres December 18 on Netflix)

Ellen DeGeneres is “Relatable” in her debut Netflix original comedy special. Filmed at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, “Relatable” marks Ellen’s return to stand-up after a 15-year hiatus. (Press materials)

Overthinking with Kat & June – Created by Mackenzie Yeager (Premieres December 19 on YouTube Premium)

The hopes, dreams, and fears — mostly fears — of Kat (Tenea Intriago) and June’s (Alexia Dox) inner lives are heard out loud in this comedic series about the birth of a strange but beautiful female friendship. (Press materials)


“With This Ring”

Not Kidding (Short Documentary) – Directed by Bettina Hanna and Trish Pavlecich; Written by Trish Pavlecich (Vimeo, Available Now)
With This Ring (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissian (Amazon Video and Vimeo, Available Now)
Assassination Nation (VOD, December 18)
Little Women – Directed by Clare Niederpruem; Written by Clare Niederpruem and Kristi Shimek (VOD, December 18)
A Simple Favor – Written by Jessica Sharzer (VOD, December 18)
Venom – Written by Kelly Marcel, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner (VOD, December 18)


Issa Rae in “Insecure”

Feminist Theater Collective The Kilroys Announces New Class
Berlinale 2019 Competition Section Is Currently 43 Percent Women-Directed
Issa Rae and Columbia Pictures Join Forces to Support Emerging Diverse Writers
Sight & Sound’s 2018 Critics Poll Includes 10 Women-Directed Pics
Sophia Takal Is the First Woman to Direct a Blumhouse Original
Exclusive: Roberta Grossman’s WWII Resistance Doc “Who Will Write Our History” Secures Release
Sudabeh Mortezai’s “Joy” Wins Best Film at Marrakech Fest
History as Herstory: Crowdfunding Picks
“Dumplin’” Director Anne Fletcher on Why She Wants Audiences to Feel “Unique and Special”

Follow Women and Hollywood on Twitter @WomenaHollywood and Melissa Silverstein @melsil

To contact Women and Hollywood, email melissa@womenandhollywood.com.

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