Category Female Film Directors

Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

Rosa Luxemburg was the anti-Hillary Clinton. Born in 1871, the year of the Paris Commune, to a Jewish family in Zamosc, Poland, she was one of the first women in Western Europe to earn a doctoral degree. Considering her brilliance as an economist, she could have probably become wealthy. Instead she chose to fight for […]

What Happened Miss Simone? (2015)

There is a controversy on social media. Zoe Saldana, a light skinned black woman, has been cast to play the singer songwriter Nina Simone, who was a very dark skinned black woman, in the upcoming biographical drama Nina. After having watched Liz Garbus’ brilliant documentary What Happened Miss Simone, I can fully understand why casting […]

La Folie Almayer (2011)

Even though the Anglo-Polish writer Conrad was 38 years old when he left the British merchant marine to devote himself to literature, his first novel Almayer’s Folly is a young man’s book. A bitterly ironic story about a Dutch businessman in Borneo who sends his biracial daughter to a Catholic boarding school in the the […]

News from Home (1976)

A year after she released Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, the 26-year-old Chantal Akerman returned to New York City, where she had lived for several years in her early 20s. Akerman, a French-speaking native of Brussels, and the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors, spent the next several months with her cinematographer Babette […]

Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

Mädchen in Uniform, a surviving document of Weimar Germany’s gay rights movement, is a film made almost entirely by women. Based on a play by the German-Hungarian writer Christa Winsloe, it was directed by Leontine Sagan, and stars an all female cast. Almost banned and heavily censored in the United States until the 1970s, Mädchen […]

Goodbye Chantal Akerman (1950-2015)

Chantal Akerman, one of the most aesthetically fascinating and innovative filmmakers who ever lived, was reported dead today. This is a huge loss for the world cinematic community. Other websites and newspapers have already published numerous articles on Akerman’s life, broad overviews of her work, appreciations. I presume they will continue to do so throughout […]

Olympia (1938)

(This review originally ran in the textbook Documentary Film: Contexts and Criticism, ed. Carl Rollyson.) Leni Riefenstahl was in many ways the perfect filmmaker to represent the Nazi regime; her work signifies both the astonishing grandeur and formal perfection of their outward displays, and the heartless technocratic beliefs that lay underneath these sleek surfaces. This […]

Crackie (2009)

(This is a column I wrote a while ago, hence the reference to the long since passed MoMA screenings. Putting it up for completeness in the archives.) MOMA decided to use this as the opener to their annual Canadian cinema showcase Canadian Front which is going on this week. At the 4pm, middle of the […]

Hester Street (1975)

While there may be some truth to the idea that Jews invented the Hollywood studio system, there’s no question about what ethnic group owns the narrative around immigration. Like a a great ship, The Godfather (1972) and the Godfather Part II (1974) have carried everything in their wake. Organized crime is now the key metaphor […]

Madame Bovary (2014)

If the new film by French American expatriate Sophie Barthes is a rather dull movie, it is also an effective deconstruction of the middle-brow English costume drama. The Merchant Ivory film, she suggests, is often just another expression of the consumer society. Thinking about luxury goods, and big budget films, financed on credit can even […]