November 30, 2007

November 30, 2007

Hollywood Actresses Paychecks
The Hollywood Reporter holds its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast next Tuesday. In anticipation of that event, they released an annual survey/accounting of how well (or not well) the top women in film are doing. While the money these women make is way more than any of us will ever see, they still don't rank in the same universe with the guys, and women will never get over the hump until they prove they can open movies in Hollywood's ass-backwards economic formula.

Interesting quote:
"But even though actress salaries seem to be bigger than ever, the news this year is not how large the paychecks of Hollywood's hottest female stars have become, it is how low they are prepared to go to fill in their schedules." (Do guys have to lower their salaries as much?)

Top 10 highest paid actresses:
1. Reese Witherspoon -- $15 million-$20 million
2. Angelina Jolie -- $15 million-$20 million
3. Cameron Diaz -- $15+ million
4. Nicole Kidman -- $10 million-$15 million
5. Renee Zellweger -- $10 million-$15 million
6. Sandra Bullock -- $10 million-$15 million
7. Julia Roberts -- $10 million-$15 million
8. Drew Barrymore -- $10 million-$12 million
9. Jodie Foster -- $10 million-$12 million
10. Halle Berry -- $10 million

Also note that the all the actresses are in their 30s to early 40s.

Sliding Scale: Salaries of Hollywood's Leading Ladies (Hollywood Reporter)

Movies This Weekend
It's the week after Thanksgiving and there are few wide releases opening. Those people in NY and LA should check out The Savages and Nina's Heavenly Delights. I liked the Savages, but loved Nina's Heavenly Delights. Very fun and light.

Also opening of interest is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel's meditation on Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a catastrophic stroke at the age of 43 and suffered from lock-in syndrome where his brain was fully functional and nothing in his body worked except for one eye. This man was able to dictate a book by blinking out letters for months. An extraordinary film of courage and the power of imagination.

50 Smartest People in Hollywood
EW has thrown out the model of the power list and this year picks the 50 Smartest People in Hollywood. At number 1 is Judd Apatow, the man who makes it acceptable for young men to be schlubs and smoke pot all day, just as long as they get the girl who works to support their pathetic lives. I did find Knocked Up funny at times, but I think this trend of men acting like arrested teenagers in movies is sad and regressive and potentially dangerous.
Here is the criteria for getting on the list: 50 Smartest People in Movies (EW)

Women on the List
6. Meryl Streep, actor
15. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment
26. Stacey Snider, CEO of DreamWorks SKG
30. Jodie Foster, actor/director
31. Kathleen Kennedy, producer
32. Thelma Schoonmaker, editor
33. Angelina Jolie, actor
38. Diablo Cody, screenwriter
39. Mary Zophres, costume designer
43. Beth Swofford, agent at CAA
45. Cate Blanchett, actor
47. Amy Powell, senior vice president of interactive marketing at Paramount
49. Sarah Polley, actor/writer/director

13 out of 50 - better than most lists from Hollywood. Interesting that Meryl Streep is higher than the most powerful woman in Hollywood, Amy Pascal.

Sundance unveiled the rest of its lineup - films to be screened out of competition.
Movies by and about women include:

"The Guitar" / USA, Director: Amy Redford; Screenwriter: Amos Poe
The life of a woman is transformed after she is diagnosed with a terminal disease, fired from her job and abandoned by her boyfriend. Given two months to live, she throws caution to the wind to pursue her dreams. Cast: Saffron Burrows, Isaach De Bankole, Paz De La Huerta. World Premiere

"Incendiary" / UK, Director and Screenwriter: Sharon Maguire
A spirited young mother juggles grief and love in the aftermath of a dramatic terrorist attack in London. Cast: Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, Matthew MacFadyen. World Premiere

"Merry Gentleman / USA, Director: Michael Keaton; Screenwriter: Ron Lazzeretti
After fleeing an abusive marriage, a young woman sets off to start a new life. When she finds herself an unwitting witness to a murder she stumbles into a curious friendship with a depressed hit man. Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Michael Keaton. World Premiere

"A Raisin in the Sun" / USA, Director: Kenny Leon; Screenwriter: Paris Qualles
After moving to Chicago's South Side in the 1950s, a black family struggles to deal with poverty, racism, and inner conflict as they strive for a better life. Adapted for the screen from Lorraine Hansberry's play, this is a moving portrait of dreams deferred. Cast: Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sean Patrick Thomas. World Premiere

"Savage Grace" / USA, Director: Tom Kalin, Screenwriter: Howard A. Rodman
The true story of the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Daly, who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland, heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. Their only child is a failure in his father's eyes, and as he matures and becomes increasingly close to his lonely mother, the seeds for tragedy are sown. Cast: Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne. U.S. Premiere

"Towelhead" (FKA "Nothing is Private") / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Alan Ball
The life of a 13-year-old Arab-American girl is illuminated as she navigates her way through the confusing and frightening path of adolescence and sexual awakening. Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Toni Collette, Summer Bishil. U.S. Premiere

"U2 3D" / USA, Directors: Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington
A 3-D presentation of U2's global "Vertigo" tour. Shot at seven different shows, this production employs the greatest number of 3-D cameras ever used for a single project. World Premiere (Editor's Note: A shorter version of "U2 3D" screened as a work-in-progress at the Cannes Film Festival in May.)

"Kicking It" / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Susan Koch
The lives of homeless people are changed forever through an international soccer competition. This film follows six players as they set off for Cape Town, South Africa to play in the Homeless World Cup. World Premiere

"Birds of America" / USA, Director: Craig Lucas; Screenwriter: Elyse Friedman
Three siblings couldn't be more different, or more neurotic. But when they find themselves converging at the family manse, they become surprisingly indispensable to one another. Cast: Matthew Perry, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ben Foster. World Premiere

"Half-Life" / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Jennifer Phang
As troubling signs of global cataclysms accelerate, a brother and sister react to their father's desertion and the powerful presence of their mother's new boyfriend. World Premiere

"Reversion" / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Mia Trachinger
In a world in which the past, present and future simultaneously unfold, a woman whose genetic mutation leaves her devoid of morality struggles to preserve her romance with the man she loves. World Premiere

"The Broken" / USA, Director and Screenwriter: Sean Ellis
On a busy London street a woman sees herself driving by in her own car. Stunned, she trails the mystery woman as events take an eerie turn into a living nightmare. Cast: Lena Heady, Richard Jenkins, Asier Newman. World Premiere

The case against using the Jane Austen paradigm for all female characters.
Jane Austen Must Die! (Sirens Magazine via Alternet)

The catfight bitchslap of Cashmere Mafia versus Lipstick Jungle will begin in earnest next year. (If they don't get this writers strike settled it will get way too much press cause there will be no new episodes of other shows around) Brooke Shields in doing press for the show says that women should not apologize for being successful and wanted it all. Do we really need Brooke Shields to remind us?
Shields says new show will remind women they need not apologize for their success (AP via Macleans)

Keira Knightley opens next week in Atonement
Keira Knightley shines in Atonement (AP via Yahoo)

A lot of pressure is on Dakota Blue Richards who toplines the $180 million The Golden Compass opening next week.
Dakota Blue Richards: The 13-year-old poised to conquer the world (The Telegraph)

Desperately Seeking Susan to shut (BBC)

Tube Tonight
Hidden Plague - Ashley Judd is very smart about using her celebrity for good. In this special she examine HIV/AIDS epidemic in India. (10pm, National Geographic)

Tin Man- a six hour mini series spins a new take on the Wizard of Oz starring Zooey Deschanel

November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007

In Praise of Cold Case
I know I've said this before but its worthy of a repeat -- Cold Case, the CBS detective drama (Sunday, 9pm) is turning out to be the most feminist show on TV.

The episode this past weekend took place in 1982 and was about a serial date rapist; before the term date rape existed when women were dismissed by their family, friends and the police as having asked for it.

This episode was handled so well that after it was over I thought to myself that I bet a woman wrote and directed it. I was right. Episode was written by Executive Producer Veena Sud and directed by the highly esteemed film director Agnieszka Holland (Copying Beethoven, Europa, Europa). (Women film directors are becoming regular TV directors since there are so few opportunities in film for them- that's another story)

I decided to check out the other senior staff (thanks to tivo) and was shocked and delighted to discover that of the 9 people listed under producer, consulting producer, co-exec producer and exex producer (in TV terms that means the writing team) 7 of them are women. Yes yo read it right -- 7 out of 9 writers/producers are women. I have never seen that before. We need to support this show with all our might. And it's not just because they are women, it's because they write women so well.

Put This on the List
Just got some info on a film opening next March- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. Set in 1939 London, McDormand plays a fired governess who finds herself befriended by an American actress and singer played by Adams.

The Sundance Film Festival unveiled its lineup yesterday.
Fest will host 51 first time filmmakers. Women in the lineup include:

Documentary Competition:
"An American Soldier," Director and Screenwriter: Edet Belzberg
Uncle Sam wants you! A compelling exploration of army recruitment in the United States told through the story of Louisiana Sergeant, First Class Clay Usie, one of the most successful recruiters in the history of the U.S. Army. World Premiere

"American Teen," Director and Screenwriter: Nanette Burstein
This irreverent cinema verite chronicles four seniors at an Indiana high school and yields a surprising snapshot of Midwestern life. World Premiere

"Flow: For Love of Water," Director: Irena Salina
Water is the very essence of life, sustaining every being on the planet. FLOW confronts the disturbing reality that our crucial resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause. World Premiere

"The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo," Director and Screenwriter: Lisa F. Jackson
Jackson travels to remote villages in the war zones of the Congo to meet rape survivors, providing a piercing, intimate look into the struggle of their lives. World Premiere

"Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)," Director: Ellen Kuras; Co-Director: Thavisouk Phrasavath; Screenwriters: Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
The epic story of a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the chaos of the secret air war waged by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Kuras has spent the last 23 years chronicling the family's extraordinary journey in this deeply personal, poetic, and emotional film. World Premiere

"The Order of Myths," Director: Margaret Brown
In 2007 Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras is celebrated...and complicated. Following a cast of characters, parades, and parties across an enduring color line, we see that beneath the surface of pageantry lies something else altogether. World Premiere

"Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," Director: Marina Zenovich; Screenwriters: Marina Zenovich, Joe Bini, P.G. Morgan
This film examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary director Roman Polanski's sudden flight from the United States. World Premiere

"Slingshot Hip Hop," Director: Jackie Reem Salloum
The voice of a new generation rocks and rhymes as Palestinian rappers form alternative voices of resistance within the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. World Premiere

"Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North," Director: Katrina Browne; Co-Directors: Alla Kovgan, Jude Ray; Screenwriters: Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan
History finally gets rewritten as descendants of the largest slave-trading family in early America face their past, and present, as they explore their violent heritage across oceans and continents. World Premiere

"Trouble the Water," Directors: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal
An aspiring rap artist and her streetwise husband, armed with a video camera, show what survival is all about when they are trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, and seize a chance for a new beginning. World Premiere

Dramatic Competition:
"Downloading Nancy," Director: Johan Renck; Screenwriters: Pamela Cuming, Lee Ross
The tale of an unhappy wife whose online search for someone to put her out of her misery results in a torturous love affair. Cast: Maria Bello, Jason Patric, Rufus Sewell, Amy Brenneman. World Premiere

"Frozen River," Director and Screenwriter: Courtney Hunt
Set in rural upstate New York on a Mohawk Reservation bordering Canada, a mother left to care for her teenage son finds herself lured into the world of illegal immigrant smuggling. Cast: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O'Keefe, Mark Boone, Jr. World Premiere

"Good Dick," Director and Screenwriter: Marianna Palka
The tale of a lonely girl drawn from her isolated life and solitary apartment by a doting young video store clerk who strives to capture her affections. Cast: Jason Ritter, Marianna Palka, Tom Arnold, Mark Webber, Martin Starr, Eric Edelstein. World Premiere

"Phoebe in Wonderland," Director and Screenwriter: Daniel Barnz
Confounded by her clashes with the seemingly rule-obsessed world, a little girl takes her already dysfunctional family down the rabbit hole when she seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher. Cast: Elle Fanning, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Pullman, Campbell Scott, Peter Gerety. World Premiere

"Sugar," Directors and Screenwriters: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who last teamed up for "Half Nelson," chronicle the journey of Dominican baseball star Miguel "Sugar" Santos recruited from his native country to play in the U.S. minor leagues. Cast: Algenis Perez Soto. World Premiere

"Sunshine Cleaning," Director Christine Jeffs; Screenwriter: Megan Holley
Struck by financial hardship, an ambitious mother and her unmotivated sister become entrepreneurs in the field of biohazard removal and crime scene clean-up. Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn, Alan Arkin. World Premiere

World Cinema Documentary Competition:
"Alone in Four Walls (Allein In Vier Wanden) / Germany, Director: Alexandra Westmeier
Adolescent boys struggle to grow up in a home for delinquents in rural Russia where life behind bars may be better than the release to freedom. North American Premiere

"The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins" / New Zealand, Director and Screenwriter: Pietra Brettkelly
Vanessa Beecroft is obsessively determined to adopt Sudanese twin orphans. Her consuming passion drives her marriage to a breaking point and fuels her controversial art, raising troubling questions about exploitation, culture clash, and the imposition of the West on Africa. World Premiere

"Dinner With The President" / Pakistan, Directors and Screenwriters: Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan
From on-the-street interviews to audiences with religious leaders to dinner with the President of Pakistan, the film takes the temperature of a culture on issues from politics to women's rights. U.S. Premiere

"pUUJEE" / Japan, Director and Screenwriter: Kazuya Yamada
Against the backdrop of a magnificent but harsh natural landscape, a Japanese photojournalist encounters Puujee, a young girl who tames wild horses on the Mongolian plains.

"The Women of Brukman" (Les Femmes de la Baukma) / Canada, Director and Screenwriter: Isaac Isitan
Amidst Argentina's financial collapse, workers take over a Buenos Aires men's clothing factory and continue producing clothing on a self-management model. As the formerly poor become business managers, their lives are changed forever. U.S. Premiere

World Cinema Dramatic Competition are:
"Megane" (Glasses)/ Japan, Director and Screenwriter: Naoko Ogigami
Taeko's southern vacation becomes a life-changing experience when she discovers a unique beach community unified by surprising and perhaps odd traditions in this comedic film. Cast: Satomi Kobayashi, Mikako Ichikawa, Ryo Kase, Ken Mitsuishi, Masako Motai. North American Premiere

"Mermaid" (Rusalka) / Russia, Director and Screenwriter: Anna Melikyan
The fanciful tale of an introverted little girl who grows up believing she has the power to make wishes come true. She must reconcile this belief with reality when, as a young woman, she journeys to Moscow and grapples with love, modernity and materialism. Cast: Masha Shalaeva, Evgeniy Ciganov, Maria Sokolova, Nastya Doncova. International Premiere

"Riprendimi" (Good Morning Heartache) / Italy, Director: Anna Negri; Screenwriters: Anna Negri, Giovanna Mori
A modern young couple with a new baby are forced to deal with the almost comedic pain of breaking up while being the subject of a documentary that quickly crosses professional lines into their private lives. Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Marco Foschi, Valentina Lodovini, Stefano Fresi, Alessandro Averone. World Premiere

"Strangers" / Israel, Directors and Screenwriters: Erez Tadmor, Guy Nattiv
An Israeli man and a Palestinian woman meet serendipitously during the carefree atmosphere of the World Cup finals in Germany, drawing them out of the stark reality of their lives and into a passionate affair. Cast: Liron Levo, Lubna Azabal, Dominique Lollia, Patrick Albenque, Abdallah el Akal, Roger Dumas. International Premiere

Interview with Laura Linney
Anything but Typical (LA Times)

Can Enchanted beat the dreaded post Thanksgiving drop off? Disney is working to make sure this doesn't happen. Some quotes from how they sold the film upon its release:

"Disney worried that focusing on the fairy-tale romance between Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) would scare off male moviegoers, leaving "Enchanted" with an audience that skewed as heavily female as "Hairspray's." Early trailers and Internet promotions also steered clear of the film's musical numbers. Instead, the marketing focused on the film's Disney pedigree, its characters and physical comedy." (They really did not advertise that it was basically a musical with songs done by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and it looked like it was ready to open on Broadway next week.)

"Once moviegoers started to see the movie, men and boys apparently didn't mind the music and romance; the opening weekend audience was 60% female and 40% male, the studio says. "It wasn't just moms and daughters coming to the movie -- it was the whole family," Lima says." (It's not rocket science, produce a film that is good, and women as well as men will come. People have much more free time over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the pressure of having to see a film on a Friday or Saturday night is just not realistic for most people, especially women.)

And how they will try and keep it going:

"And, for the time being, Disney will promote the movie it has, not the movie it feared. "It's first and foremost a romantic comedy," Lima says. "And we shouldn't be afraid of that." DUH

Disney Angles for Another Enchanted Weekend (LA Times)

November 28, 2007

November 28, 2007

Movie of the Week- The Savages- written and directed by Tamara Jenkins
Writer-director Tamara Jenkins used her own family drama as inspiration for her second biting film, The Savages.

The stellar cast toplines Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as estranged siblings forced to come together to deal with the downward descent of their father into dementia.

Just like Margot at the Wedding these characters are incredibly flawed, not very likable, but they are real. Not a pretty movie both aesthetically (I have never seen Laura Linney look so bad) and topically, the film deals with a reality many people in our culture now face; what to do with an aging parent who becomes too incapacitated to deal with him or herself.

Neither of the Savage (family name is quite appropriate) siblings is really emotionally able to handle this type of adult decision especially because they were never parented properly and have been estranged from both their parents for decades.

But they handle it the best way they know how and it brings a reconciliation between the siblings. They had one of those cordial but distant relationships with the added layer of competitiveness and narcissism. Dealing with their father is humbling and forces these two together which helps each of them get over themselves.

Jenkins' humor is raw and at times humiliating just like her first cult feature, The Slums of Beverly Hills. In fact it was her humorous take that got her the deal for this film from producer Ted Hope who had signed her "to write whatever she wanted to write, provided it had some humor to it."

Here are some of Jenkins' comments on her characters: "They're terribly human and incredibly flawed and completely screwed up and I adore them for it. They're these two mismatched, damaged people who are both in a kind of arrested development. Even though they're in middle age, they really aren't finished people yet, and that makes them very interesting."

Film will have legs through the awards season and opens today in NY at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Angelika; and in LA at Pacific Arclight and The Landmark
For further release information: The Savages

Awards Watch
The awards season has kicked off! Women & Hollywood will continue to highlight the women getting nominating and winning throughout the season.

Independent Spirit Award nominations which will be handed out the day before the Oscars were announced yesterday. (To qualify for the Spirits the film budget needs to be under 20 million)

Women nominated include:
Best Feature: "Juno" and "A Mighty Heart"
Best First Feature- "2 Days in Paris"- Julie Delpy
Best Director: Tamara Jenkins- "The Savages"
Best Screenplay: Tamara Jenkins- "The Savages"; Adrienne Shelly, "Waitress"; Mike White, "Year of the Dog" (film is about a woman)
Best First Screenplay: Zoe Cassavetes, "Broken English" and Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Best Female Lead: Angelina Jolie, "A Mighty Heart"; Sienna Miller, "Interview"; Ellen Page, "Juno"; Parker Posey, "Broken English"; Tang Wei, "Lust, Caution"
Best Supporting Female: Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"; Anna Kendrick, "Rocket Science"; Jennifer Jason Leigh, "Margot at the Wedding"; Tamara Podemski, "Four Sheets to the Wind"; Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
Best Documentary: "Lake of Fire," Director: Tony Kaye (about abortion); "Manufactured Landscapes," Director: Jennifer Baichwal
Best Foreign Film: "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Director: Cristian Mungiu (Romania) (about abortion); "Lady Chatterley," Director: Pascale Ferran (France); "Persepolis," Directors: Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi (France)
Producers Award: Anne Clements, producer of Ping Pong Playa and QuinceaƱera; Alexis Ferris, producer of Cthulhu and Police Beat

Gotham Awards were handed out last night in NYC
Breakthrough Award- Ellen Page for playing the pregnant teen in Juno (can't wait to see this later today). She said: "I'm so proud that there is a teenage character like her going out into the world."
Tribute award: Mira Nair

Barbra Streisand gets into the presidential race with an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I think its a given that Oprah's endorsement of Obama might have a more far reaching effect. But one can always hope.
Streisand Endorses Hillary Clinton (AP via USA Today)

Even though Amy Adams has been working for years, she's become a star at 33. While that's not too old, it's also not 19. She's got a slew of films coming up including Charlie Wilson's War.
Uber Focus Propels Amy Adams (AP via Miami Herald)

November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007

Being a Sexist in Hollywood = Promotion
Jeff Robinov who you might remember from a month ago as the man who said he would no longer be making movies starring women, has now been given a huge promotion to be president of the newly restructured Warner Brother Picture Group. He will be in charge of film production, marketing, distribution as well as WB's Indie label - Warner Independent. COO, Alan Horn still retains greenlighting rights, but other than that the kingdon is now Robinov's.
Read the earlier story: Do Women Matter to Hollywood?

The sharks are out already for The Golden Compass and in turn Nicole Kidman. The Guardian loved it- comparing Kidman's villaness Mrs. Coulter to Darth Vader. Can't wait to see it.
The Golden Compass (The Guardian)

Yesterday, Kidman also launched a new campaign against domestic violence with UNIFEM.
Kidman Launches U.N. Campaign (Reuters)

Documentaries seem to run in the Maysles Family. Celia Maysles debuted her documentary on her family at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Daughter's Personal Search for Her Father (indieWIRE)

EW has named J.K. Rowling its Entertainer of the Year
Entertainer of the Year (EW)

DVDs This Week

Waitress- directed by Adrienne Shelly
"Written by director and co-star Adrienne Shelly (who was murdered shortly before the film's selection for the Sundance Film Festival), Waitress is a frank and funny examination of the fears brought on by impending motherhood. Keri Russell plays Jenna, a waitress whose fabulous pies are about the only sweet ingredient in an otherwise dreary existence. An unwanted pregnancy, however, brings unexpected romance in this film co-starring Cheryl Hines." (Netflix)
Check out W&H interview about the Adrienne Shelly Foundation:
Remembering Adrienne Shelly and Supporting Women Directors

The Namesake- directed by Mira Nair
"While he respects his immigrant parents (Irfan Khan and Tabu) and their decision to rear him in his United States birthplace, Gogol Ganguli (Kal Penn) is torn between Indian traditions and the modern Bostonian lifestyle. Jacinda Barrett and Zuleikha Robinson also star in director Mira Nair's thought-provoking coming-of-age drama, which explores first-generation Americans' delicate dance between culture and identity." (Netflix)

Tube Tonight

Sisters in Law- 10pm, PBS
"In the little town of Kumba, Cameroon, there have been no convictions in spousal abuse cases for 17 years. But two women determined to change their community are making progress that could change their country. This fascinating, often hilarious doc follows the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba as they help women fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. Six-year-old Manka is covered in scars and has run away from an abusive aunt, Amina is seeking a divorce to put an end to brutal beatings by her husband, the pre-teen Sonita has daringly accused her neighbor of rape."
Sisters in Law

November 26, 2007

November 26, 2007

Enchanted won the box office race this weekend. Box office take for the Amy Adams starrer was about $50 million making it one of the best Thanksgiving weekends ever. I was able to see the film this weekend. Thought it was cute. There were a couple of very funny lines. Interestingly, the guy in my group actually liked it better than the women did. Women thought it was too sappy. At the theatre I attended in upstate NY, the audience was varied; girls as well as adult couples. Film was able to crossover into all hit quadrants. This film clearly has legs.

The African-American targeted This Christmas shocked the Hollywood box office prognosticators by raking in $27 million over the five day weekend. These box office predictors must have their heads under a rock. Why is it always shocking that movies targeted at a particular film-going audience does well? More than 22 year old white boys go to the movies. This Christmas was made for $13 million so it is already hugely profitable.
Women Makes Movies (organization that supports women making independent films and videos) announces 12 new films chosen for its fiscal sponsorship program:

Akaken the Dragon - How the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boating is transforming the lives of a group of individuals searching for life after cancer. Dir. Liz Oakley

Changing My Mind About Palestine - An American woman takes a rollercoaster road trip through the West Bank that challenges her internalized stereotypes and perceptions of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Dir. Nora Malone

I Was Raped - Highlights the prevalence of rape in our culture and breaks the silence that surrounds it. Dir. Jennifer Baumgardner

I Wish I Was A Mango Tree - A powerful saga shared by millions of immigrants torn from their families by grinding poverty and a search for work. Dir. Irene Rial Bou

Semper Fi: Always Faithful - The troubling story of a massive water contamination at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, in which toxic water flowed for thirty years and exposed thousands of Marines to high levels of carcinogens. Dir. Rachel Libert

Someone Else's War - Three Filipino workers travel thousands of miles from home to work for the US military in Iraq. Dir. Lee Wang

South Africa's Women Judges - The personal struggles of six South African women judges, born and raised during apartheid, mirrors the larger struggle to establish a human rights-based constitutional democracy in that country. Exec. Prod. Ruth B. Cowan, Dir. Jane Thandi Lipman

Strong! - U.S. Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth works to become the strongest woman in the world. Dir. Julie Wyman

The Girls Of Rajasthan follows several students through an experimental school for girls who have had no education. Dir. Jennifer Dworkin

Watching - Profile of Eileen Clancy, founder of I-Witness video, a grassroots organization that networks and trains media activist in counter-surveillance tactics. Dir. Elizabeth Press

When Clouds Clear - A reflection of the history and culture of one small town that could vanish before it is even put on the map due to a corporate power structure that wishes to strip the land away from the local people. Dir. Anne Slick and Danielle Bernstein

U People upholds the vision that camaraderie and sisterhood is vibrant and sustaining, though not always easy among straight and gay and gender nonconformists in the African Diaspora. Dir. Hanifah Walidah

Learn More: Women Make Movies
Attention all female filmmakers who needs funds to finish their films. Women in Film Foundation is seeking applicants for their film finishing fund.
More details:
Women in Film Finishing Fund

SAG in support of the writers strike with a series of on-line videos: Speechless hosted exclusively on Nikki Finke's site Deadline Hollywood. make sure to scroll down. Also the NYTimes writes today about Finke and her importance in the writer's strike.
Alternative Journalist’s Web Site Is Scrutinized for Writers’ Strike News

Article on Natalie Portman
More Than Meet the Eye (The Guardian)

Most of the articles on the new regime at UA seem to focus on the Tom Cruise side of the partnership. Here is a piece from an Australian paper no less that focuses on Tom's better half, Paula Wagner.

Some interesting quotes:

She says that she refuses to think of herself as a woman in a man's world, but instead tries to capitalise on her "female qualities". "Females are traditionally more verbal, more articulate, more communicative, more empathetic, more concerned about people's feelings, more collegiate in a way, so I think that makes for great managerial qualities. Women also can be remarkably tough.

Of course times have changed. When I went to CAA in the talent department, I was one of three women there. Even in the early 1980s it was unusual, a female agent was an anomaly. And I will be honest, in my very lengthy career, I felt earlier on that I had to work really hard - that may just be my nature, but sometimes I felt I'm going to work harder, I'm going to run faster.

Hollywood's Leading Lady (The Age)

Q&A with Lili Taylor (Nerve)