One of the concluding films for the Femspectives festival was Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s collaborative film, “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open” (2019) a harrowing, but a quietly meditative film about solidarity. It’s a bleak and often uncomfortable watch, but its dedication to telling stories often forgotten, or worse ignored, is what makes it such an exciting new entry into Femspective cinema. The film is a Canadian/Norwegian film centred around a chance encounter between two women - Aila (played by Tailfeathers) and Rosie (Violet Nelson). Rosie is an expectant young mother who lives with her boyfriend and his mother. Aila is a similarly young woman who herself wrestles with the concept of motherhood. Aila meets Rosie, barefoot and in the pouring rain, as she is running away from her violent boyfriend. She takes her back to her place, and in the uncertainty of what to do next, the two start to form a connection of sorts.
Every year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) holds an annual award show honouring the best and boldest in filmmaking. And every year, there is an extensive discourse on who was snubbed or overlooked or incorrectly nominated. I have those opinions each awards season but there is one snub that still gets me: Ava DuVernay. When her film “Selma” premiered in 2014, it was staggering to see the level of detail put into every aspect of that film. The history, the acting, the cinematography, the set design, and so on. But the direction and momentum of the film rested solely with DuVernay.
Staring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Wilde's comedic coming-of-age film "Booksmart" follows two overachievers who attempt to cram years of high school fun into one night. Yet, their friendship will be tested when they are confronted with the changes and obstacles that come with graduation and growing up. One of the main messages of this film revolves around the importance of experience and breaking out of your comfort zone. Best buds, Molly and Amy both seem to have wasted the fun times of high school by relentlessly studying so they decide to turn the night before graduation into the ultimate high school experience.
The Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 saw 26 people murdered – 20 kids and six members of staff. It remains the largest school shooting at an American primary or secondary school, and is the second-largest school shooting in American history (the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007 saw 32 people murdered). Coming out one year prior, “We Need To Talk About Kevin” is a film that explores one of life’s more terrifying recurring nightmares.
Based on the 2003 novel of the same title by Lionel Shriver, “We Need To Talk About About Kevin” focuses on successful travel writer Eva (Tilda Swinton) and the relationship with her son, Kevin (Rocky Duer, Jasper Newell and finally Ezra Miller). Kevin seems to antagonise and loathe his mum from birth: crying only in her arms as a baby, being entirely uncooperative with her as a young kid when they’re alone, and taunting her frequently as a teen.
The fact that writer-director Ana Lily Armipour’s genre-hopping A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) ranks so highly in ITOL’s top 50 films by women of the decade list is a testament to its originality, cult appeal, and fang-sharp social commentary.
Billed as an Iranian Vampire Western, and set in the fictional Bad City, it nods to a myriad of influences from classic horror and film noir, to Tarantino, comic books and David Lynch- clanking industrial images and sounds loom large and fever-dream music-sequences are woven throughout.
Horror cinema has enjoyed a real purple patch in the last decade, and arguably the most exciting, inventive and disturbing release of the 2010s is “Raw”, the debut feature for French writer-director Julie Ducournau. The film plays out as an unholy marriage between a coming-of-age tale and a cannibal horror story, in which a young vegetarian named Justine (Garance Marillier) takes her first steps into adulthood as she begins her studies at veterinary college.
Mr. Rogers. A figure who defined the childhoods of many individuals. He was the subject of 2018’s documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Now, with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019), Mr. Rogers is once again teaching us the importance of having faith in each other.
The film does not follow Mr. Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) solely. It explores the world of make believe and Mr. Rogers through the eyes of journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). Lloyd works for Esquire and is assigned to cover Mr. Rogers for the magazine’s issue on heroes. Lloyd is skeptical of the wonderous man with his puppets. As an audience, we learn to understand what makes Lloyd so skeptical. He is a new father and the fears he already has about being a new father are compounded by the re-emergence of his estranged father (Chris Cooper).
Writer and director Joanna Hogg has always been known for her mysterious, creative and thoughtful films, but “The Souvenir” (2019) is her best yet. A tender tale of young love, it is Hogg’s most personal film to date, based on her own experiences at film school and dating an older, secretive and troubled man.
You can feel this personal touch throughout, in the gentle yet unflinching way Hogg’s camera follows Honor Swinton Byrne’s Julie, the young woman at the centre of this story.
“American Mary” (2012) is a criminally underrated dark comedy and horror film directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Due to its subject matter and gore, it was not widely released. It was released to V.O.D. and DVD quickly, though, helping the film amass a cult following. “American Mary” is often left out in discussions about women in horror. It’s overshadowed by more popular cult classics like “Jennifer’s Body” and “The Descent” — both of which are vital to discussions about women in horror — but it’s a mistake to ignore “American Mary.” The film is disgusting, cathartic and creative. It deserves to be ranked amongst the best body horror and rape revenge films of the past decade.