Five picks from the Women + Film Voices Film Festival
Maritza Santiago Hernandez and Abbie Cornish in The Girl.
As with past editions, this year's third annual Women + Film Voices Film Festival aligns with the celebration of International Women's Day -- which is Friday, March 8. Curated by festival producer Tammy Brislin, FilmCenter artistic director Brit Withey and festival director Britta Erickson, narratives and documentaries alike get top billing in this collection of women-centered pieces from around the world.
The festival kicks off this Sunday, March 3, with a live performance of A Conversation With Edith Head, followed by more than two dozen movies screening throughout the week. In advance of all that action, Brislin took time to share her favorite films in this year's lineup:
"It's a beautiful film -- it's shot really well and narrated by celebrities. When Meryl Streep is speaking, I thought, oh, my god, you couldn't have a better voice for telling a story of a young girl."
"This opening night film is great -- it tells the story of Leonie Gilmour, whose son is the famous sculptor Noguchi. I'd always known Noguchi's work, but had never known his story. Gilmour was quite a character -- she had two kids and she was unmarried and lived in Japan. She was an American educated at Bryn Mawr and (Noguchi's father) Yone Noguchi was a Japanese poet. It was interesting to see that at the time, the racism was so bad against Yone that Leonie wanted to go back to Japan to raise their kids -- it wasn't even legal for her to be married to a Japanese man in America."
"Visually, it's just really beautiful -- it really draws you in. It's a more subtle story -- Abbie Cornish plays a woman trying to turn her life around. The young girl who she ends up trying to help is just great."
Filly Brown (Saturday, March 9, 7 p.m.)
"This film premiered at Sundance a year ago, and the actor, Gina Rodriguez, is coming out for the festival. They've had problems with their distributor -- the last distributor that had it and closed their doors last month -- so we lost the film. Luckily, Keith Garcia (programming director for the Sie FilmCenter) got in touch with the director.
"It's a story of a young girl coming from a bad neighborhood -- but it doesn't sugarcoat anything. Her mom's in jail, and gets her into trouble. I liked it because it was real, and the movie didn't make things any nicer for us to digest the story. Plus, playing Filly Brown (a rapper and singer), Gina actually has a really, really great voice. We don't get many stories about Latinas or even stories from this genre, and we're always trying to keep the festival representative.""It's about Hannah Arendt, a German Jew who escaped to America. She was a philosopher who covered the Nazi trials for the New York Times. She was pretty loathed after what she had written about them and kind of alienated herself from a lot of the Jewish community. This film is pretty intense because it's subtitled and it's dialogue-heavy. She had some beliefs about why the Nazis did what they did and she didn't back down from her philosophy -- even though she lost a lot of her friends and had death threats against her."
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