Often semi-autobiographical in nature, Desiree Akhavan’s work unabashedly celebrates what it means to be an Iranian-American bisexual woman. As an openly bisexual filmmaker who centers her experience of bisexuality in most of her works, Akhavan has had to frequently deal with critics expecting her to deliver a “taboo-breaking drama on bisexuality.” To this, Akhavan responded in an interview for the Independent that she is merely trying “to figure shit out for [her]self” rather than put forth a “taboo-breaking” narrative on the matters of gender and sexuality. Indeed, it is worth questioning why gay artists are expected to deliver ground-breaking work when the film industry persistently denies funding, access, and support for gay artists. When gay people are still fighting for their right to simply exist, ground-breaking becomes a luxury reserved for the most privileged.Continue reading “Female Director Spotlight: Desiree Akhavan Tackles Sexuality with Refreshing Honesty”
2018 has been a wild year for film, from wildly entertaining sequels (see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Paddington 2) to Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest in dry, yet tragic, humor to a horror film featuring tongue clicking, a nut allergy, and dead pigeons. It has been year for powerful women, both in front of and behind the camera, from the women of Annihilation to Crystal Moselle and her look into the world of women skateboarders. It has been a year to interrogate representations of masculinity, from Joe in You Were Never Really Here to Reverend Toller in First Reformed. It has been a year of terror, love, laughter, and exhaustion, both literally and cinematically. The films of 2018 truly captured the strange and turbulent atmosphere that has thrown us all into a state of near-constant anxiety.
The Much Ado team has relished in this anxiety, seeing many of 2018’s best, and worst films with the help of film festivals such as Cannes, NYFF, and BFI, MoviePass (RIP), and AMC Stubs A-List. After much deliberation, Letterboxd rankings, and last-minute trips to the cinema, we present Much Ado’s top 25 films of the year.
Last year, there was one film that seemed to take up almost all of the space in my head. For all the wonderful movies that came in 2017, none occupied my thoughts or meant more to me than one in particular – this was Luca Guadagnino’s masterful Call Me By Your Name, a film that I have written hundreds of adoring words on over the past ten months, and which I hardly felt I could do justice to in my work. I am not here, however, to revisit Call Me By Your Name but, rather, to discuss the film that appears to have had the same effect on me this year. Though we may only be in September, I doubt that I will find another feature in the coming months that will impact me as much as Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Just as Guadagnino’s film gripped every part of me last year, so has Akhavan’s – her depiction of a young, gay woman’s battle with both herself and the cruelty of her environment is as heart-wrenching as it is witty, and feels to me as beautiful and as vital to queer cinema as Call Me By Your Name.
Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ readers!
To celebrate Pride Month, here is a list of all the upcoming LGBTQ films you can expect to see on a cinema screen near you. All descriptions are from press materials.
- June 8 – HEART BEATS LOUD dir. Brett Haley
The film follows Sam during her last summer at home before she leaves for UCLA. She lives with her father, Frank, who runs a record store in Brooklyn. Together, they bond while playing and writing music together in their living room. And Sam doesn’t let the impending cross-country move stop her from having a summer fling.
Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Sasha Lane, Toni Collette
Alongside blockbusters, ABBA, and Disney nostalgia are plenty of female-directed films also hitting the big screen this summer. Here’s a list of all the women-helmed flicks coming out in June-August. All descriptions are from press materials and all release dates are U.S.
June 29 – WOMAN WALKS AHEAD dir. Susanna White
Woman Walks Ahead is a biographical film starring Jessica Chastain as Catherine Weldon, a 19th-century New York portrait painter who traveled to the Dakota Territory and became the confidante of legendary Sioux chief Sitting Bull (played by Michael Greyeyes). While serving as Sitting Bull’s secretary, interpreter, and advocate, she becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land.
Female directors may have been few and far between at Cannes, with only three films directed by women in competition, but the upcoming Sundance Film Festival: London promises a refreshing change. The British iteration of the famous festival brings a condensed lineup, but women are front and centre as 58% of the films showcased are directed by women. Films starring women will also be gracing the 4-day festival including Hereditary and Eighth Grade. The festival will also host panels and discussions on the state of the film industry and whether it is making steps towards inclusivity. For this Sundance preview, we highlight all of the female-directed films in the lineup.
THE TALE dir. Jennifer Fox
Jennifer Fox’s harrowing autobiographical look at sexual abuse will be opening the festival following its premiere on HBO last Saturday. Laura Dern stars as Jennifer, a woman who is forced to reconcile the sexual relationship she had as a 13-year-old. In the age of Time’s Up and #MeToo, films like these feel timely, but it’s necessary that women get to tell their own stories in their own words.
As the Tribeca Film Festival comes to an end, here’s my take on a few films I was fortunate enough to see. And since it was the first major festival I’ve covered, it shouldn’t be surprising that I was constantly in an “OMG this is really happening! Where am I?” mental state. So, to keep you all up-to-date on the experience, I offered some insight into my scatter brain throughout the festival.