Weekly Update for April 12: Women Centric, Directed, and Written Films Playing Near You

Weekly Update for April 12: Women Centric, Directed, and Written Films Playing Near You


FILMS ABOUT WOMEN OPENING

Little – Directed by Tina Gordon; Written by Tina Gordon and Tracy Oliver 

“Little” is “Big” but reversed and centered on a black girl — and based on a pitch from then-10-year-old star Marsai Martin (“Black-ish”). The film also stars Regina Hall as the grown version of Martin’s character, an incredibly successful entrepreneur who is also a terrible, controlling boss and has scared everyone in her life. The awesome Issa Rae plays her dogged assistant, April, who has been wanting to pitch an app but is too intimidated to do so. When Hall is made “little” again from a spell cast by a young black girl she completely demeans, she is brought back to the worst part of her life: middle school. There are many hysterical moments as Martin acts like an almost-40-year-old woman in a 13-year-old’s body. “Little” is a feel-good, very funny movie about expectations and treating people with respect. Fun, funny movies like this are a stark reminder of how many other great stories are out there and needing to be told. “Little” is one that’s great for the whole family. (Melissa Silverstein)

Find screening info here.

Girls of the Sun – Written and Directed by Eva Husson (Opens in NY and LA)

“Girls of the Sun”: Maneki Films

“Girls of the Sun” is the story of a female battalion fighting for their freedom in Kurdistan. They have become well known and a Marie Colvin-esque journalist (she even has the eye patch) played by Emmanuelle Bercot embeds herself in the group to report on them and their leader, Bahar, played by Golshifteh Farahani. This is a different kind of war movie. These women protect each other from the hell that has been ravaged against their families and their bodies. You see the weariness in their eyes. You see their determination to survive. You see Bahar’s desire to get her kidnapped son back. These women will stop at nothing for their liberation. (MS)

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Eva Husson.

After – Directed by Jenny Gage; Written by Susan McMartin, Tamara Chestna, Jenny Gage, and Tom Betterton 

“After” follows Tessa (Josephine Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter, and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college. Armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a magnetic, brooding rebel who makes her question all she thought she knew about herself and what she wants out of life.

Find screening info here.

Her Smell (Opens in NY; Opens in LA April 19)

“Her Smell”

Becky Something is, by her own admission, a persona and not a person, a user, and a deadbeat. “Her Smell” sees the punk rock superstar, played by Elisabeth Moss, choking bandmates, behaving like a tyrant in the recording studio, and passing out at gigs. The pic offers snapshots of Becky’s life during a number of eras. In the ’90s, she’s selling out arenas and prepping for a nationwide tour — but her addictions and abusive behavior torpedo her career and alienate her loved ones, leaving her isolated and reeling. Fast-forward to the present: After getting sober, Becky begins to rebuild bridges and heal her relationship with her daughter. But is she ready to come to terms with her past and get back on stage with her old band? (Laura Berger)

Find screening info here.

Wild Nights with Emily – Written and Directed by Madeleine Olnek 

“Wild Nights with Emily”: SXSW

In the mid-19th century, Emily Dickinson is writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, lifelong romantic relationship with her friend and sister-in-law Susan (Susan Ziegler) — yes this is the iconic American poet, popularly thought to have been a joyless recluse. Beloved comic Molly Shannon leads in this humorous yet bold reappraisal of Dickinson, informed by her private letters. While seeking publication of some of the 1,775 poems written during her lifetime, Emily (Shannon) finds herself facing a troupe of literary gatekeepers too confused by her genius to take her work seriously. Instead her work attracts the attention of an ambitious woman editor, who also sees Emily as a convenient cover for her own role in buttoned-up Amherst’s most bizarre love triangle. Meticulously researched with the support of the Guggenheim foundation, this dramatic comedy generously intertwines Dickinson’ actual letters and poems into the texture of the film, used with permission from Harvard University Press. A timely critique of how women’s history is rewritten, “Wild Nights with Emily” remains vibrant, irreverent, and tender — a perhaps closer depiction of Emily Dickinson’s real life than anything seen before.

Find screening info here.

Mary Magdalene – Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett (Available on VOD April 19)

“Mary Magdalene”

“Mary Magdalene” tells the moving story of one of the most misunderstood women in history, alternately vilified as a sinner and canonized as a saint. In the First Century A.D., the free-spirited Mary (Rooney Mara) flees the marriage her family has arranged for her, finding a sense of purpose in a radical new movement led by the charismatic, defiant preacher Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). The sole woman among his band of disciples, Mary defies the prejudices of her patriarchal society. She undergoes a profound spiritual awakening, becomes drawn her into conflict with Jesus’ apostles Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim), and finds herself at the center of an earth-shaking historical moment.

A Very Curious Girl (Theatrical Re-Release) – Directed by Nelly Kaplan; Written by Nelly Kaplan, Michel Fabre, Claude Makovski, and Jacques Serguine (One Week Only in NY)

Nelly Kaplan’s breakthrough film engages in dark and surreal humor and showcases Bernadette Lafont as Marie, a suddenly orphaned young woman who learns to use her village’s hypocrisy to her own advantage — sexually and otherwise. As Kaplan notes, the movie is “the story of a modern-day witch who is not burned by inquisitors; it is she who burns them.” (The Quad Cinema)

Find screening info here.

Teen Spirit (Opens in Select Theaters; Opens in Wide Release April 19)

Violet (Elle Fanning) is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent, and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, “Teen Spirit” is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story.

Mia and the White Lion – Written by Prune de Maistre and William Davies 

Ten-year-old Mia (Daniah De Villiers) has her life turned upside down when her family decides to leave London to manage a lion farm in Africa. When a beautiful white lion, Charlie, is born, Mia finds happiness once again and develops a special bond with the growing cub. When Charlie reaches three, Mia’s life is rocked once again as she uncovers an upsetting secret kept hidden by her father. Distraught by the thought that Charlie could be in danger, Mia decides to rescue him. The two friends set out on an incredible journey across the South African savanna in search of a sanctuary where Charlie can live out his life in freedom.

Find screening info here.

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (Documentary) (Available on Netflix April 17)

“Homecoming” presents an intimate look at Beyoncé’s historic 2018 Coachella performance that paid homage to America’s historically black colleges and universities. Interspersed with candid footage and interviews detailing the preparation and powerful intent behind her vision, “Homecoming” traces the emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement.

Breakthrough – Directed by Roxann Dawson (Opens April 17)

“Breakthrough”

“Breakthrough” is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s (Chrissy Metz) adopted son, John (Marcel Ruiz), falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.

Find screening info here.

FILMS MADE BY WOMEN OPENING

The Most Dangerous Year (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Vlada Knowlton (Opens in NY; Opens in LA April 26)

In early 2016, when a dark wave of anti-transgender “bathroom bills” began sweeping across the nation, The Human Rights Campaign published a report identifying 2016 as the most dangerous year for transgender Americans. In Washington State alone, six such “bathroom bills” were introduced in the State Legislature. Filmmaker Vlada Knowlton captured the ensuing civil rights battle from the perspective of a group of embattled parents as they banded together to fight a deluge of proposed laws that would strip away the rights of their young transgender children. With the help of a coalition of state lawmakers and civil rights activists, these families embarked on an uncharted journey of fighting to protect and preserve their children’s human rights and freedoms in this present-day civil rights movement.

Find screening info here.

Yuli – Directed by Icíar Bollaín (Opens in the UK)

“Yuli”

“Yuli” is the nickname given to Carlos Acosta by his father, Pedro. From a young age, Yuli fled any kind of discipline and education; the streets of a run-down neighborhood in Havana was where he learned most of his schooling. But Pedro knows his son has natural talent and forces him to attend Cuba’s National Dance School. Against his will and despite his initial indiscipline, Yuli ends up being captivated by the world of dance, and from childhood he will begin to build his own legend, as one of the best dancers of his generation, often breaking taboos and becoming the first black artist to dance Romeo in the Royal Ballet in London, where he forged a legendary career as a principal dancer for 17 years.

BOO! – Written by Diane Michelle and Luke Jaden (Also Available on VOD) 

A torn suburban family refuses to heed the warning of an innocent prank left upon them which causes an unknown supernatural force to wreak havoc.

TV PREMIERES

Special – Directed by Anna Dokoza (Premieres April 12 on Netflix)

“Special” is a distinctive and uplifting new series about a gay man, Ryan (Ryan O’Connell) with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants. After years of dead-end internships, working in his pajamas as a blogger, and communicating mostly via text, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood. Based on O’Connell’s memoir, “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.”

Bless This Mess – Created by Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether (Premieres April 16 on ABC)

“Bless This Mess”: 20th Century Fox

The new single-camera comedy follows newlyweds Rio (Lake Bell) and Mike (Dax Shepard) as they make the decision to move from big city New York to rural Nebraska. After dropping everything — including their jobs and overbearing mother-in-law — to make the move from skyscrapers to farmhouses, they soon realize that the simpler life isn’t as easy as they planned. Rio and Mike must now learn how to weather the storm as they are faced with unexpected challenges in their new life as farmers.

VOD/STREAMING RELEASES

“Miss Bala”: Columbia Pictures

We Are Columbine (Documentary) – Directed by Laura Farber (Hulu, April 15)
Miss Bala – Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (VOD, April 16)

PICKS OF THE WEEK FROM WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD

Submit Now: Amazon’s Inclusive All Voices Film Festival Competition
Managing Motherhood: Crowdfunding Picks
Quote of the Day: “The L Word” Creator Ilene Chaiken on Telling LGBTQ Stories
MPAA Report 2018: Women Represent 51% of Moviegoers, 47% of Ticket Buyers
Peabody Award Nominations: “Killing Eve,” Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette,” & More
Cannes & Marché du Film Will Offer Childcare to Industry Attendees With Kids
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s “One Child Nation” Wins Grand Jury Award at Full Frame 2019
Lost in Transition: April’s VOD and Web Series Picks
For the First Time in History, Women Are Running All Three Network Morning Shows
Claire Denis Will Lead Cannes’ Short Films & Cinéfondation Jury

Note: All descriptions are from press materials, unless otherwise noted.


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

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





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