Features

American Film Market Oct. 31- Nov. 7 2018

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The 2018 American Film Market just wrapped up in Santa Monica, California. This year saw  comparably stronger sales for small, independent films. Courtney Sheehan was at the AFM, and writes about the importance of relationships and risk-taking,  key themes that emerged in the conference sessions on production and distribution.

“There Were No Laws Against It Then”

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As the world opened up to women’s liberation, civil rights, and new social movements, Hollywood of the 1960s doubled down on the exploitative practices that had made the industry so harmful to women. In this sixth series installment, Kerry McElroy argues that the sexual revolution stirring the larger culture, epitomized in the rise of Hugh Hefner, fanned the flames of an already misogynist, violent industry culture.  As seen through the lives of Tippi Hedren and Marilyn Monroe, this article shows that the commodification of women only increased, even as the old studio system was dying. Few stars experienced the exception; read on about a compelling example: Elizabeth Taylor.

“The Studio Doesn’t Own Me’’

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The 1950s was era of bigger stars, bigger budgets, and bigger bombshells. At same time, the studio system was weakening in the wake of television and a fearless and libelous emerging tabloid press. In this fifth series installment, Kerry McElroy examines the supreme pop cultural star of the twentieth century, Marilyn Monroe.  Examined, in her own words and in new ways, McElroy’s Monroe is a kind of economic sociologist, a surprising forerunner of the #MeToo movement, and a forgotten proponent of social justice. Finally, McElroy considers another marquee court case, one in which star actresses fought back against the tabloids with bravery.

 

DOC NYC  Film Festival Nov. 8-15

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Senior Film Critic Kurt Brokaw samples the 9th annual edition of American’s largest documentary festival.  Over 300 films–47% directed or co-directed by women–plus shorts, panels and student entries
moved onto 16 downtown Manhattan screens in one jam-packed week.

“Scores of ‘Starlets’ Like Me… Fifty Bucks a Week’’

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In the 1940s, two female intellectuals, coming from very different positions, began to theorize gender and economy in studio Hollywood. In this fourth series installment, Kerry McElroy delves into the changing and ironic state of affairs for actresses in the 1940s— unexpected autonomy and worsening exploitation. Food restriction, forced cosmetic surgery, suspensions, and poverty were largely the order of the tyrannical day. McElroy also looks at the last living Golden-Age star, Olivia de Havilland, and her landmark 1943 court case on contracts and suspensions.

Women in Film Portraits: Naomi McDougall Jones

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In this installment of Women in Film Portraits, Lauren Sowa profiles award-winning Actress, Writer, Producer, and Activist Naomi McDougall Jones. Naomi wrote, produced, and starred in the 2014 indie feature film, Imagine I’m Beautiful, which took home 12 awards on the film festival circuit including 4 Best Pictures and, for Naomi, 3 Best Actress Awards and The Don Award for Best Independently Produced Screenplay of 2014. Naomi speaks with Sowa about her new film Bite Me and about being a female storyteller.

 

 “This Is the Action of a Very Naughty Young Lady”

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The 1930’s saw the studio system in peak Fordist condition, especially in terms of its financial and bodily control over women. “Glamour” was the disciplinary strategy of the day, and the most famous women stars of the twentieth century learned to negotiate it in new ways. In this third series installment, Kerry McElroy looks at race, queerness, and economic disadvantage in Depression-era Hollywood. Women like Mae West created new channels of power, attaining international stardom and unfathomable wealth in the process. Bette Davis, on the other hand, brought forth a watershed court case for actors’ rights, and demonstrated just how much the industry feared political agitation and class consciousness.

New York Film Festival Sept. 28-Oct.14

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Senior Film Critic Kurt Brokaw views the entire main slate plus all shorts in the
56th New York Film Festival Sept. 28-Oct.14. Read critic’s choice reviews on
his top favorites which will post in one continuing article over the next three weeks.