Features

“The Profession is Crowded Now”

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After a halcyon decade of growth and promise for women in Hollywood, patriarchal, hyper-capitalism closed like a vise around the industry. With this second series installment, Kerry McElroy explores Los Angeles in the 1920s. Women migrating west in large numbers represented an exciting cultural phenomenon but also a social problem that needed to be regulated. Just as the “casting couch” was becoming an entrenched industrial practice, a notorious rape trial shocked the industry and re-victimized women. In the midst of these grim developments, a few actresses did manage to become global, superstars, amassing real wealth.

Hollywood Was a Matriarchy

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To understand the current #MeToo/Time’s Up moment, we must reckon with a century of Hollywood’s mistreatment of women. With this first series installment, Kerry McElroy takes us back to the industry’s earliest decade in Los Angeles. This was a time of surprising feminine power. Cinema emerged alongside the New Woman, utopian promises of California, the stunt queen, and global female celebrity. It took time for capitalist forces to reassert a gendered order.

Rewind!: Scott Rosenberg and Con Air

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In early August, as part of their “Rewind!” series, the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brighton, MA held a special 35mm screening of the 1997 film Con Air, followed by a Q&A with screenwriter Scott Rosenberg. Like all the special events held by the Coolidge, it was great fun for fans of the movie and a special treat for those coming to Con Air for the first time. The Independent’s Mike Sullivan was at the event and shares this review.

New Series: Bette, Marilyn, and #MeToo

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Kerry McElroy announces a timely and compelling series that will run bi-monthly this fall at The Independent. The series titled, “Bette, Marilyn, and #MeToo: What Studio-Era Actresses Can Teach Us About Economics and Resistance Post-Weinstein,” highlights Hollywood legends (including Olivia de Havilland, Louise Brooks, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor) who all carved out spaces of autonomy in a decidedly male-controlled film industry at the height of its exploitative powers. McElroy will reveal, through analysis that spans seven decades, what these actresses have to teach us in this contemporary moment of feminist reckoning.

Women in Film Portraits: Joanna Pickering

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In this installment of Women in Film Portraits, Lauren Sowa profiles Joanna Pickering, a New York based filmmaker and activist who has worked in television, film, stage, and radio. Joanna has made over 20 independent films and is currently co-starring in Pelleas. Joanna talks with Sowa about this project and about her many collaborations with inspiring creative women.

The Global Screen: Joe Cruz

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In this third installment of The Global Screen, Joe Cruz discusses diasporic and nationalistic contestations emerging in Puerto Rico’s guerrilla cinema. In a way, films belonging to this movement articulate a somewhat transgressive view of Puerto Rico’s national identity. Although the century-old colonial rule continues to draw criticism, no longer is the island territory’s rural past romanticized. Instead, new cinematic discourses concerned with exploring Puerto Ricans’ national identity through the lens of current en masse migration to North American metropolis seem to be taking shape. 

Sons of the Evil Dead

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In May, LA-based filmmakers, Brett and Drew Pierce, completed filming their third indie horror film, Hag, shot on location in rural northwestern Michigan. The Pierce brothers became aficionados of the genre early on under the influence of their father, Bart, a special effects artist on the 1981 cult classic horror film, The Evil Dead. Rebecca Reynolds draws on conversations with the family in this exploration of Brett’s and Drew’s influences, strategies, and creative talents.

Brave New World: Possibilities for Diversity in VR Technology

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As virtual reality develops into a viable technology for immersive storytelling, today’s filmmakers are witnessing the birth of a new, perhaps more inclusive, form of cinema. Reporting on VR from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Rebecca M. Alvin, explores how the doors are open for a much more diverse group of creators and a wider range of stories to tell.

Women in Film Portraits: Lauren Atkins

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In this installment of Women in Film Portraits, Lauren Sowa profiles Lauren Atkins, creator of the award-winning web series My Friends Think I am Funny. Atkins founded NYC Web Fest after recognizing there were several festivals showcasing digital series on the west coast but nothing in New York. After a successful launch in 2014, NYC Web Fest continues to gain in size and momentum, with guests flying in from around the world. Here Atkins talks with Sowa about her creative influences and her approach to challenges.