AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES
THE WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE TENTH ANNIVERSARY AWARDS CEREMONY 2014 BROADCAST

Listen to the show here

1/20/15

Dissing DuVernay: The Lessons Of Selma


By Sikivu Hutchinson 

Quote of the Day - John Lithgow - "Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug."

Every child in the U.S. should be required to see Selma for at least two reasons. First, Ava DuVernay’s powerhouse film captures the political complexities and tactical ambiguities that informed civil rights movement organizing; from the behind-the-scenes factionalism among movement organizers to the FBI’s war on activists to the media’s influence on bringing black resistance to Southern terrorism straight into white Middle America’s living rooms. Highlighting the contributions of black women activists and other lesser known unheralded organizers, the film reminds young people that historical change does not spring from the exceptional actions of visionary individuals but from collective action. In this regard, Selma is an important antidote to mainstream portrayals that fixate on Martin Luther King as the sole impetus for the movement.

Second, the lessons of Selma itself are relevant to DuVernay’s “omission” from the Academy Awards nomination for Best Director. True to Frederick Douglass’ assertion that “power concedes nothing without demand” the snub of DuVernay is criminal but of course not unprecedented. Just as sustained organized action brought down Southern apartheid so must sustained organized action be directed at Hollywood’s billion dollar White Boy’s club. Each year, people of color flock to inane comedies and big budget action flicks in record numbers (Latinos have the highest film going rates and the lowest rates of representation in mainstream film). In the few theater chains that deign to operate in , we watch white people play out themes of heroism, romance, swashbuckling, leadership and political intrigue underwritten by multinational corporations which rarely endorse people of color portrayals that don’t hinge on minstrelsy. Given this, why would the Academy, helmed by a cabal of older white men like the Tea Party, give a brilliant fierce black woman like DuVernay its imprimatur for disrupting one of white supremacy’s most sacred preserves? Shaming white Hollywood into “validating” a few token nominees of color every five years does nothing to address its apartheid structure; refusing to support its lily white fantasies at the local multiplex does.

In Selma, DuVernay alludes to the limits of dismantling de jure segregation vis-√†-vis de facto segregation. Toward the end of his life, King confronted economic injustice and the intractability of capitalist exploitation. Moving from “reform to revolution”, his final push for the Poor People’s Campaign underscored the divide between ending Jim Crow voting rights restrictions versus redressing deeply embedded structural race and class inequities. In some respects, DuVernay’s exclusion from the film industry’s white male director canon exemplifies the elusiveness of the latter. While white Hollywood post-Charlie Hebdo recently patted itself on the back at the Golden Globes for supporting free speech and the increase in diverse portrayals of (white) women, conditions for women of color are still in neo-Aunt Jemima territory. Critiquing this civil liberties’ love fest, black feminist writer Britney Cooper slammed white Hollywood’s empty activist rhetoric as it ignored the Black Lives Matter movement...

CONTINUE READING ARTICLE HERE

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of Blackfemlens.org, and she is a commentator on Pacifica's KPFK Radio in Los Angeles. Sikivu is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

1/16/15

Oscar Noms 2014: WFCC Members Weigh In - Where Are All The Women?

Claudia Puig, Film Critic at USA Today:
We still have a very long way to go in terms of parity between the genders, and, of course, among different cultures and races in Hollywood, just as we do as a country. When I didn't see Ava DuVernay's name among the best director nominees, my heart sank. Her nomination would have gone a long way to inspire young women, and especially young women of color, to pursue filmmaking as a career. I was truly hoping not only to see a woman burst into the all-boys club, but an African-American woman. That would have indicated some progress in a male-dominated industry. When Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win a best director Oscar in 2009 for The Hurt Locker it felt like perhaps Hollywood was stepping up and opening the doors to its inner sanctum. But that was 6 years ago. I hate to think of her as the token female director Oscar winner.

Having said that, I was heartened to see that Selma was among the best picture nominees. Perhaps fellow directors did not think DuVernay was enough of a seasoned veteran to make it into the elite ranks of director nominees? In general, women behind the camera are given short shrift in Hollywood, so it's not very surprising that they account for a small minority of the overall Oscar nominees in categories like writing, directing and editing. Their presence behind the camera in mainstream films is more rare than in the independent film world, so that accounts for why more creative women pursue the indie avenue, or go into television.


Thelma Adams, Film Editor at ZEALnyc: 
First of all, I welcome more voices to the discussion. Only a few years ago, we women bothered by the bias in Hollywood and at the Oscars were howling more or less alone. Now, the status of women in Hollywood, and the imbalance of the Awards has become a common topic. While we can decry the snub of Ava DuVernay as a Best Director nominee, even as her movie Selma got its rightful place among the Best Picture nominees. Another thing that strikes me is the Best Actor and Actress categories. There has been a lot of talk about the weakness in the potential actress nominees and the incredibly competitive actor category. This is totally symptomatic, not of actors being superior but of male actors having better opportunities and more challenging roles.

If the two categories merged into one, the men would dominate. Perhaps Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard would compete this year but who knows. So, Amy Adams and Jennifer Aniston fell off the nominees but each and every one of the male contenders -- Benedict Cumberbatch, Bradley Cooper, Steve Carell, Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton -- deserve to be feted. So many were left out: Ralph Fiennes, Tom Hardy, David Oyelowo to name just three. This is not a measure of acting talent, male versus female, but a chasm in opportunity. More leading roles for women where they get to carry the narrative will result in a more muscular and competitive Best Actress race.

Continue To Read Article Here


12/13/14

The Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2014


         Best Foreign Film: Two Days, One Night

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of sixty-five women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. We came together in 2004 to form the first women critics organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. Here are our WFCC Tenth Anniversary Film Awards:

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2014

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

Still Alice

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Selma: Ava Duvernay

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Ida: Rebecca Lenkiewicz [Co-screenwriter]

BEST ACTRESS

Julianne Moore: Still Alice

BEST ACTOR

Eddie Redmayne: The Theory Of Everything

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

 Mira Grosin: We Are The Best


 BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Jenny Slate: Obvious Child

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Two Days, One Night

BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Horrible Bosses 2
       
BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
  
Love Is Strange

WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
   
Dumb And Dumber To

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Citizenfour

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
The Skeleton Twins

BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Girlhood

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

TIE: Life Itself, The Skeleton Twins

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE

Winnie: Boxtrolls

BEST FAMILY FILM
Big Hero 6

WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE

The Homesman

*SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS*


COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
LAURA POITRAS: For bringing the Edward Snowden NSA revelations to light in Citizenfour, and driven into exile in Germany for doing so.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD:
A film that most passionately opposes violence against women
Frontera
Private Violence
 
*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
Anita: Speaking Truth To Power

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD:
For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
Belle

ACTING AND ACTIVISM AWARD
Rosario Dawson

For her work with The Lower East Side Girls Club; the environmental group Global Cool; the ONE Campaign; Oxfam; Amnesty International; Voto Latino; V-Day, a global non-profit movement that raises funds for women's anti-violence groups; RESPECT! Campaign, a movement aimed at preventing domestic violence; and countless other organizations.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Oprah Winfrey

COURAGE IN ACTING: [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Julianne Moore: Still Alice

BEST FEMALE ACTION STAR
Oprah Winfrey: Selma


THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
Felicity Jones: The Theory Of Everything

WOMAN'S RIGHT TO MALES ROLES IN MOVIES
Jessica Chastain: Interstellar

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD:


*TIE
  Charlotte Gainsbourg: Nymphomaniac

  Uma Thurman: Nymphomaniac
 










JUST KIDDING AWARDS

*Best Female Images: Nymphomaniac

*Forty-Plus Female Empowerment Award: For the producers who give women over forty  meaningful roles in movies on a regular basis, in an industry where forty is the new  ninety-five - and as other than maniacs and witches.

*Merry Macho Award: Seth Rogen and James Franco: For advancing the cause of world peace  with their presidential assassination comedy, The Interview. And who knows, while possibly mulling the  Interview II sequel comedy, the assassination of US President Obama. And for further extending  Hollywood as a wing of the US military and CIA, following leaked email revelations that the US State Department advocated Sony to use the film to help bring down the DPRK government.

BEST LINE IN A MOVIE:
Big Hero 6: 'Stop Whining. Woman Up!'

**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.


CONTACT: Criticalwomen@gmail.com

12/9/14

The Women Film Critics Circle Award Nominations 2014

                  Kristen Stewart, Camp X-Ray

The Women Film Critics Circle has announced its 2O14 unique nominations for the best movies this year by and about women. And outstanding achievements by women, who rarely get to be honored historically in the film world.

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 65 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media.

They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics' organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. And WFCC is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in the country by far, and best reflecting the diversity of movie audiences.

Critical Women On Film, a presentation of The Women Film Critics Circle, is their journal of discussion and theory. And a gathering of women's voices expressing a fresh and differently experienced perspective from the primarily male dominated film criticism world.

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Camp X-Ray
The Homesman
Still Alice
Two Days, One Night


BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Belle
Selma
The Babadook
The Pretty One


BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Belle: Misan Sagay
Ida: Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Obvious Child: Gillian Robespierre
The Babadook: Jennifer Kent


BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard: Two Days, One Night
Carol Kane: Clutter
Julianne Moore: Still Alice
Kristen Stewart: Camp X-Ray


BEST ACTOR
Tom Hardy: Locke
Tommy Lee Jones: The Homesman
Eddie Redmayne: The Theory Of Everything
Jeremy Renner: Kill The Messenger


BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

Mira Grosin: We Are The Best
Lorelei Linklater: Boyhood
Saoirse Ronan: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhane Wallis: Annie


BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

Anna Kendrick: Happy Christmas
Helen Mirren: The Hundred-Foot Journey
Jenny Slate: Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig: Skeleton Twins


BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Ida
Two Days, one Night
We Are The Best
Zero Motivation


BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Belle
Lucky Them
Obvious Child
1,000 Times Good Night


WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Gone Girl
Nymphomaniac
Sex Tape
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For


BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Cesar Chavez
Kill The Messenger
Love Is Strange
The Homesman


WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Bad Words
Big Eyes
Dumb And Dumber To
Listen Up Philip


BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Girlhood
Ukraine Is Not A Brothel


WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE
The Homesman
Two Days, One Night
We're The Best
Zero Motivation


SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

*COURAGE IN FILMMAKING:
CitizenFour


*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women

Frontera
Private Violence

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America

Anita: Speaking Truth To Power
The Maid's Room


*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

Belle
Big Eyes

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]

Carla Juri: Wetlands
Julianne Moore: Still Alice
Hilary Swank: The Homesman
Reese Witherspoon: Wild


THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

Amy Adams: Big Eyes
Patricia Arquette: Boyhood
Felicity Jones: The Theory Of Everything
Hilary Swank: The Homesman


BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Anita: Speaking Truth To Power
CitizenFour
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
She's Beautiful When She's Angry


MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Nymphomaniac


BEST SCREEN COUPLE
Boyhood
Elsa & Fred
Obvious Child
Skeleton Twins

BEST LINE IN A MOVIE
Big Hero 6: “Stop whining. Woman up!”

A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO MALE ROLES IN MOVIES
Jessica Chastain: Interstellar

JUST KIDDING AWARDS:
 

*Forty-Plus Female Empowerment Award: For the producers who give women over forty meaningful roles in movies on a regular basis, in an industry where forty is the new ninety-five - and as other than maniacs and witches.

*Merry Macho Award: Seth Rogen and James Franco: For advancing the cause of world peace with their presidential assassination comedy, The Interview, and for further extending Hollywood as a wing of the US military and the CIA. And, while possibly mulling the Interview II sequel comedy -  the assassination of President Obama.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower20rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a "bad day." Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD:
Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

12/1/14

Remembering Luise Rainer


 Golden Age of Hollywood's social activist screen goddess Luise Rainer just passed away at the age of 104. And, who is said to have used her Oscars as doorstops. Film historian David Spaner reports from Vancouver.