Toronto-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta was born in Amritsar, India in 1949. Because her father was a film distributor and theater owner, she was exposed to film at a very early age. She grew up watching commercial Indian cinema, and realized the emotional power of cinema when she was just thirteen.
She went to the University of Delhi, where she received a degree in philosophy. With no formal training in filmmaking, she began her career after graduation when she joined a company making documentaries. She moved to Toronto at the age of 23, where she began to create films that would soon establish her as a talented and controversial filmmaker.
Mehta describes herself as "a citizen filmmaker of the world. Or at least one that has one foot in India and one in Canada." She initially moved to Toronto with plans to move back to India, but ended up staying and becoming a Canadian citizen. Her films, however, are mostly set in India, and they challenge traditional beliefs prevalent in Indian culture. As a result of her controversial subject matter, her films have been fiercely protested by various Hindu fundamentalist groups. Because of this, Mehta is often accompanied by armed bodyguards when traveling in India.
Iranian lesbian activist Kiana Firouz is currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom after a controversy over the upcoming release of Cul de Sac. The film, which stars Firouz and includes explicit lesbian sex scenes, is based heavily on Firouz's life and struggles as a lesbian in Iran. Directors Ramin Goudarzi-Nejad and Mahshad Torkan posted the trailer on YouTube in December 2009 (below, NSFW) and since then, the Iranian government has attempted to deport Firouz back to Iran to be tried and punished for her crime of homosexuality. Firouz applied for refugee status in the UK, but was rejected.
If she is not granted asylum in the UK, she will be sent back to Iran, where the minimum punishment for homosexuality is 100 lashes. The punishment for "unrepentant" homosexuality, which Firouz's LGBTQ activism clearly demonstrates, is public execution by hanging.
What do sex, creepiness, Beyoncé, The Candyman, and Robert Pattinson have in common (besides making for excellent fanfic)? Why, Bill Condon, of course. The director, best known for his work on Kinsey and Dreamgirls, will direct the fourth installment in the Twilight franchise, Breaking Dawn. Is this a good thing? Let's look at some of his past work and make unfounded predictions! (Come on, you've got nothing better to do at work today than watch Candyman trailers, right?)
Who else but Bill Condon could bring our profoundly disturbing romance to life onscreen?
Kick-Ass, the new R-rated movie based on the R-rated comic book, follows a few masked-and-caped citizens whose paths cross over mob dealings and misunderstandings. The Watchmen it's not, but the introduction of a pint-sized heroine who plays with butterfly knives instead of Barbies sets it apart from other superhero flicks. Watching the movie, I found that when I wasn't wincing at the violence, I was cringing at the gaping disparity of both skill and storyline between the title character--the green-wet-suit wearing Dave, aka Kick-Ass--and the foul-mouthed, truly ass-kicking, Mindy MacCready, aka Hit Girl.
Two upcoming films about gay couples feature big name celebrities. Is mainstream film becoming more queer-friendly or are the white, mostly monogamous characters and the straight actors that play them anything but revolutionary?
Whether you hated Whip It due to its Hollywood treatment of roller derby, or you loved it and found yourself jonesin' for more (or you just want to watch a fun documentary about women kicking the crap out of each other in the name of teamwork and sisterhood), you're bound to fall for Brutal Beauty, an action-packed film by Chip Mabry that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport of roller derby as told by the women of the Rose City Rollers.
International Day of Transgender Visibility was started just last year as a much-needed counterpart to the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which focused more on memorializing those lost rather than celebrating everything the trans community is doing today. Ironically, a recent controversy over the Tribeca Film Festival features problematic representations of trans women, and the ensuing discussion only further marginalized the trans community. And it all started with a little cis-directed flick called Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. Yeah, you read that right.
No matter how subtle and cerebral – or in the case of Lewis Carroll's 1865 tale, wonderfully meandering and weird – the original story, these days, Hollywood will figure out how to transform it into an action movie.