The second annual Athena Film Festival kicks off on February 9 on the Barnard College campus. Founded to honor extraordinary women for their leadership and creative accomplishments, the festival will screen films made by and about women all weekend, as well as hold free (free!) workshops for filmmakers. How fun! If we lived in New York we'd definitely attend, and if you live there you should!
Snow Cake is a 2006 independent drama starring Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver. Shortly after Rickman's character picks up a young hitch-hiker, he is in a sudden, brutal accident and the girl is killed. Paralyzed by guilt, he tries to reconcile with the girl's mother, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, who happens to be autistic.
That is an intriguing premise. Too bad the film is stunngingly, bafflingly awful.
Writer-director Julie Dash returns to the Bechdel Test Canon with her 1982 short film Illusions, which asks some mighty big questions about the racial and sexual politics of constructing images and a film industry that finances the production of those images.
Finding North is a title so perfect it doesn't fully sink in until after you've finished watching the film. The documentary by filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush doesn't allude to it at any point during its 84 minutes (except in song lyrics during the opening credits), but it provides a powerful paradigm for the rest of the film: quite simply, any country whose citizens go hungry while there is enough food has lost its direction and must get back on course.
Jane Campion's biopic An Angel At My Table feels far more epic in its devotion to writer Janet Frame's small moments than courtroom scenes that turn history into playacting and battle sequences that turn soldiers into figurines. These are the films women should be making. They are often the films I want to see, particularly if they fail to receive Academy recognition.
Mattie Ross, the young protagonist of the Coen brothers' acclaimed 2010 film True Grit, is so compelling and memorable because she is so odd. Her eccentricities are characterized by what I would call "autistic difference" but, given the nature of the film, my aim is not read autism onto Mattie. I want to map Mattie onto autism.
Writer-director Sandra Goldbacher's 2001 feature Me Without You champions the girl who gets overlooked and now serves as further evidence for the kind of actress Michelle Williams was to become. Attempting a British accent, Williams plays mousy intellectual Holly. At first glance, she is no match for her glamorous best friend Marina (Anna Friel). But the film makes clear that Holly is the better, more substantial person, especially by her jealous confidant's own estimation. We've seen this dynamic play out between Betty and Veronica, Angela and Rayanne, and Nina and Nina. But it also challenges the binary I constructed between Holmes and Williams. Why is the girl with the most cake cast as the villain while the wallflower is valorized for being ignored?