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Blu-ray Review: Landmark Lesbian Drama Desert Hearts Looks Tremendous and Feels Almost as Good

A woman arrives in Reno by train and will leave the same way, with one seismic difference: she has met and fallen in love with Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), a local artist and resident free-spirit. The year is 1959, and Vivian (Helen Shaver) is in Reno to get divorced. (In 1959, did people always have to go to Reno to get divorced?) She's an academic leaving a loveless, functional marriage. The idea of falling for a woman has never entered her wildest speculations. Modern audiences will inevitably connect Donna Deitch's 1985 independent film, Desert Hearts, with Todd Haynes' masterpiece of twenty years later, Carol. Both are set in the 1950s and feature older/younger relationships forming between an experienced woman and a woman only beginning to discover...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]
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Desert Hearts

By 1985 Hollywood had still only dabbled in movies about the ‘shame that cannot speak its name,’ and in every case the verdict for the transgressors was regret and misery, if not death. Donna Deitch’s brilliant drama achieves exactly what she wanted, to do make a movie about a lesbian relationship that doesn’t end in a tragedy.

Desert Hearts


The Criterion Collection 902

1985 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 96 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date November 14, 2017 / 39.95

Starring: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau, Audra Lindley, Andra Akers, Gwen Welles, Dean Butler, James Staley, Katie La Bourdette, Alex McArthur, Tyler Tyhurst, Denise Crosby, Antony Ponzini, Brenda Beck, Jeffrey Tambor.

Cinematography: Robert Elswit

Film Editor: Robert Estrin

Production Design: Jeannine Oppewall

Written by Natalie Cooper from the novel by Jane Rule

Produced and Directed by Donna Deitch

Desert Hearts is a fine movie that’s also one of the first features ever about a lesbian romance,
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Criterion Collection Announces November Titles, Including Seminal Lesbian Drama ‘Desert Hearts’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’

  • Indiewire
Criterion Collection Announces November Titles, Including Seminal Lesbian Drama ‘Desert Hearts’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’
November over at The Criterion Collection may look a smidge slim, offering up just four new titles, but each new addition to the collection is a seminal selection well-deserving of the Criterion treatment. Of most interest, however, is Donna Deitch’s feature debut “Desert Hearts,” a seminal lesbian drama that’s been going through something of a resurgence as of late, thanks to last year’s 30th anniversary and a continued adoration for its forward-thinking subject matter.

As we recently explored, in the early ’80s, Deitch was a film school grad with only docs under her belt, eager to make a different kind of feature about lesbians in love, and “without the help of Kickstarter or industry backing, she launched an unorthodox grassroots campaign that eventually gained the support of Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, and Stockard Channing. The result was a hit at Sundance in 1986 that went on to become
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Joshua Reviews Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts [Theatrical Review]

For every cult classic like Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me or stone cold classic like Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, the folks at Janus and The Criterion Collection decide to use their platform to shine a light on some of film’s most interesting unsung gems. Be it from the early days of African cinema, the Romanian New Wave or even American indie cinema of the ‘80s and ‘90s, some of Janus and Criterion’s most interesting theatrical and home video releases are the ones that seemingly come out of nowhere.

Take, for example, Desert Hearts. From director Donna Deitch, Hearts tells the story of Vivian, a conservative, buttoned up English professor caught in the middle of late ‘50s Reno and a going-nowhere marriage. In the midst of a divorce Vivian meets Cay, a gorgeous and vibrant woman who helps not only open Vivian’s eyes to herself but to the world around her.
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How Lily Tomlin and Gloria Steinem Helped Fund the Lesbian Film Classic ‘Desert Hearts’

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How Lily Tomlin and Gloria Steinem Helped Fund the Lesbian Film Classic ‘Desert Hearts’
In the early ’80s, Donna Deitch was a recent film school grad with no feature credits looking make a lesbian romance — one that didn’t end with killing its heroines. Without the help of Kickstarter or industry backing, she launched an unorthodox grassroots campaign that eventually gained the support of Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, and Stockard Channing. The result was a hit at Sundance in 1986 that went on to become a groundbreaking lesbian classic that still resonates today.

Read More‘Desert Hearts’ Trailer: Donna Deitch’s Groundbreaking Lesbian Classic Restored — Watch

Adapted by Natalie Cooper from the 1964 Jane Rule novel “Desert of the Heart,” Deitch’s 1985 film is a poignant romance set in 1959, when straitlaced Columbia professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives at a ranch in Reno, Nev. to get a divorce (the only place one could at that time). She meets the rancher’s daughter, Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), an open and self-assured lesbian,
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“Desert Hearts” Director Donna Deitch Talks Love Scenes, Gloria Steinem, and the Sequel

Desert Hearts

The groundbreaking lesbian film “Desert Hearts” has been digitally remastered and is being released on the big screen and on Blu-ray. Originally released in 1986, the Natalie Cooper-written film was adapted from Jane Rule’s 1964 novel “Desert of the Heart.” It centers on the romance between uptight, closeted Vivian (Helen Shaver), who has traveled to Reno for a quick divorce, and the free-spirited, openly gay Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), a local casino worker. I recently spoke to director Donna Deitch about Gloria Steinem’s role in getting “Desert Hearts” made, the film’s legacy, and why things are getting better for women in TV.

Desert Hearts” will screen at the IFC Center in New York City beginning July 19. Following the first screening, I will be moderating a discussion between Deitch, Shaver, and Charbonneau. Go to the IFC Center’s website for more screening information.

This interview has been edited. It was transcribed by Joseph Allen.

W&H: Tell us how “Desert Hearts” came to be.

Dd: Here’s what happened. This was in the early ‘80s, maybe 1980 itself. I had bought the book and then I had written a script and I had it in my mind that if I could only meet Gloria Steinem, if I could only meet Gloria Steinem, she would really understand this movie, and maybe she would help me.

I don’t know where that idea came from, so I proceeded to go all around asking everybody I knew if they knew Gloria, and someone introduced us, and neither Gloria nor I can remember who in the world that person was. But I went over there to the Ms. [the magazine Steinem co-founded] office and we chatted and she’d read my script by this time and she said, “Have you ever made a film before?”

I said, “Well, I’m a documentary filmmaker, I’ve never made a narrative feature before.” And she said, “Can you just show me something, can we look at something?” And I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll bring over my thesis from UCLA (where I was in graduate film school) and I’ll show you that.”

And the movie’s this 60-minute documentary and it’s called “Woman to Woman: A Story of Hookers, Housewives, and Other Mothers,” and I showed her that film.

W&H: Perfect for her.

Dd: Yeah, yeah. And then she said those famous words, that if you’re ever lucky enough to have bestowed upon you: “How can I help?” And that was the beginning because I had this idea to structure my investment approach, raising money on Broadway backer parties where you go and you hear and you hear about the project, you’re kind of selling your shares.

So Gloria agreed to let her name be on the invitation, along with a few others like Lily Tomlin and Stockard Channing. So I would go into a city, I started in New York, and I would just start asking everybody, “Who do you know who might be interested in investing?”

And then I would get these names and I would distill them down to people who expressed interest in the script, having read it, and once I had 20 people or so, they would get an invitation and it would say “Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, Stockard Channing invite you to come to this party and hear about ‘Desert Hearts’ from Donna Deitch.” That’s how it all went for probably two and a half years in all the major cities in America.

W&H: So you were, like, crowdfunding before crowdfunding existed?

Dd: Kind of, yes.

W&H: That’s so impressive. The passion — these are common stories that I hear from filmmakers, particularly female filmmakers — of the several years that it takes to raise money, but I don’t think it’s gotten any easier for anybody since the 1980s.

Dd: I don’t think it’s gotten easier, but I think what has really changed is that women have become more supportive of women, and women are in greater positions of power. When “Desert Hearts” came out, Oprah Winfrey saw the movie, and Oprah hired me to direct a miniseries called “The Women of Brewster Place” [adapted from the novel by Gloria Naylor].

She became my first boss, and I mean obviously she thought I was right for the job, it wasn’t like she was doing a favor, but the conscious desire and commitment to hiring women, given the choice, by other women I think has really improved, and there are more women in a hiring position than there ever were, certainly in television.

W&H: It’s been 31 years since “Desert Hearts” has been released, correct?

Dd: It’s 31 years, yeah.

W&H: 30 years, 31 years. Why do you think this film has endured for that length of time?

Dd: Well, I don’t know for sure. That’s a question, it’s a really good question, but it’s a really hard question to really know the answer to. I think the fact that it was set in period to begin with helps it in the sense that the story itself is set in a historical time, the ‘50s, when you know Reno was the divorce capital of America, so the place in which it takes place is real, but set back in time, which is different from making a contemporary story, because it is already in period no matter what time you’re looking at it.

It doesn’t make it contemporary 30 years later, but it’s already set in period, and in a real place and time. So, I don’t know, I think that’s a part of it, but I try to say, because this is my third sale of the movie, because I’ve sold it on lease, my lawyer has sold it on lease every time, so this is my third sale, first was to Samuel Goldwyn, and then to Wolfe, and now to Criterion.

So we have a new ad campaign, and what I’m trying to really get people to understand that this is a movie about two people who have nothing in common except their gender. It’s funny and ironic.

W&H: The film has a legacy in the lesbian community, and I don’t know if it’s taught in film schools but it should be, it was one of the first if not the first movie that told a story about two women who fell in love where one of them didn’t die.

Dd: Right, and that was my intention, that was my entire intention in making the movie. I wanted to tell a story, a love story about two women that didn’t die, nor did they get into a bisexual triangle, because that’s how every movie before that ended or every movie before that became that, and that was my initial intention, was to tell a lesbian love story framed in a very accessible style that would appeal universally.

I believe if you make something that’s controversial, which it certainly was at its time, it has to be accessible or you’re going to be in a fringe situation. But I wanted to play on that universal love story approach, except that it’s two women.

W&H: Do people talk to you about what the film means to the lesbian community, do you hear that a lot in terms of where it fits and how everything kind of comes after it?

Dd: Well, what has happened more than anything else is women coming up to me and saying, this has been going on for years and I think I’ve found an answer to this, they’re always coming up and telling me their coming out stories based on seeing “Desert Hearts.”

I mean, just hundreds, so I decided what I really should do is start a collection of coming out stories based on “Desert Hearts.” So I’m asking people to tell their story in under three minutes and post it, so that there’s no cutting involved or anything like that, and then at a certain point I’d like to donate this to some archive.

Because I feel these stories should be shared, not just told to me.

W&H: Have other filmmakers that are making lesbian stories talked to you about what the film means to them as a tool for their filmmaking?

Dd: I don’t think so, no. It’s mostly the viewers, women. I don’t think anybody’s reached out in that way.

W&H: The conversation has clearly shifted about gender and Lgbtq issues, so I wanted to ask you, if you were going to make this movie today, would you hire straight actors to play the leads?

Dd: I would hire the best actors. I don’t really care. They’re actors, I don’t think it makes any difference if they’re committed, I think there are commitment issues for actors all over the place, and they often occur if there’s a love scene.

You have to remember that at that time, I don’t know if you know this, but nobody wanted to come in and audition. The clients and the agents felt that this was way too dangerous for any client to be in and I’m not talking about just the two lead characters, I’m talking about the other parts too. People didn’t want to have anything to do with this movie.

In a way, I think that ended up being very good for movie, because I feel like I did get the best people, and sometimes if you, I mean it is typical to go for the best, but also the most known, right?

If you cast movie stars, I mean of course it would be totally different today, if I wrote that I could get anybody I wanted, but you cannot audition movie stars, they don’t audition, they get offers. So I believe that at the heart of a love story, there’s one thing you have to have, and that’s chemistry. If you don’t audition, you can’t see it, and you don’t know if it’s going to be there or not because you’ve never seen these actors together in a casting office.

I saw that, clearly, as I auditioned Patricia Charbonneau, who I cast first, against some other actresses, and it was clearly there with Helen [Shaver]. I mean it was impossible not to see it. I think that, in a way, the fact that I got to go out there and look for people who were more or less unknown was an advantage, but it’s difficult if you have an independent film without known quantities in it, for the obvious reason.

W&H: So talk about the sequel.

Dd: Well the sequel, I just want to say that this is an unconventional sequel in the sense that this is not a traditional following of these two characters. That’s not to say that they’re not in it, but it doesn’t follow their story as much as it follows the world of “Desert Hearts,” and by that I mean a coming out story, which is what “Desert Hearts” was in part, and to a great degree it’s really about being authentic to yourself.

This is another film, it is set in actually a time and place that no narrative film has ever been made in, it’s set in the heart of the so-called second wave of the women’s movement in New York City, 1968–1970. This is a time, arguably the biggest revolution in America, and that’s what it was about — women coming out to who they really are authentically.

W&H: What does it mean to you to have the original restored and have it be there for a whole new generation to see on the big screen?

Dd: It’s very big for me, because, first of all the way it came about Sundance, Criterion, and Outfest shared the cost of it. Sundance invited me back to screen the new version, and to have that thing restored to its original. We did a panel discussion with Robert Elswit, the cinematographer, and Jeannine Oppewall, who was the production designer, and we were all just starting on our careers, but they have become the Academy Award-winning and nominated, I mean they’re like the best of the best.

So to watch the film restored to its original beauty with them and then talk about it was fantastic. It was as though they were my producers in a sense, because those two were the only people that I ever really talked to about what we’re doing now, what we’re doing next, how it’s all going to be and look. It was very interesting that that all kind of came to me just at that panel.

W&H: Is there anything you want people to know about the film?

Dd: Well, I would like people to go to my website and…

W&H: Why don’t you give us the name of the website?

Dd: Yeah, it’s called desertheartsmovie.com, and if they have a coming out story related to the movie, to tell it, and to go to Criterion and get the movie, because it’s going to have fantastic extras in it. It’s going to have almost all new extras, it’ll be a conversation between me and Robert and Jeannine, and then there’s going to be a conversation between me and somebody else who I don’t have confirmed yet, so I can’t say because I don’t want to give wrong information.

There’s going to be an interview with Helen, an interview with Patricia, the Anatomy of a Love Scene thing I did in my other DVD is going to be better and bigger, so it’s going to be really fantastic. It’s never been out on Blu-ray before, so it’s a restored version on Blu-ray. It’s going to be incredibly beautiful.

W&H: The movie does have an epic lesbian love scene in it.

Dd: Epic, yeah.

W&H: I think it set the bar really high.

Dd: Here’s the most amazing thing, because it’s been showing around now a bit, for the 30th [anniversary], it was at the BFI in London and that started the whole thing, then it was at MoMA for a week, Sundance, and a few other places, and so many people have come up to me at these screenings and said “God, I haven’t seen this movie for 29 years or 30 years, and it’s better now.”

“I’d forgotten how funny it was,” or “I’d forgotten how hot it was,” or that sort of thing.

W&H: Yeah, it is definitely all those things.

Dd: Yeah, and it’s so great because as you said a whole new generation of women and men are going to see this movie now, and it is hot, and it is sexy, and it is really funny. I mean, we used to go to the screenings and we’d count, even now, we count 29 laughs, 27 laughs.

W&H: That’s great.

Dd: Yeah

W&H: The numbers of women directors is still abysmally low.

Dd: Yes, horrible.

W&H: You’ve been working 30 years as a director, TV and film. Talk about if you’ve felt like there’s been a sense of progress in the conversation but the numbers aren’t shifting. What do you talk about with your fellow female directors?

Dd: Well, I think that when I started I honestly just fell into this TV thing, I never thought much about it. Doing it wasn’t a desire of mine or any sort of plan at all, and then after Oprah, that was quite a launching pad and I honestly fell into 25 years of working non-stop in television, and there were very few women around, not just as directors.

I would constantly be in the van scouting, whatever I was doing, with very few women. Now that has, I think, started to shift, and in part because, as I said previously, there are fantastic, female showrunners, and then the kings and queens of television are writers, unlike the movies.

More and more fantastic and brilliant writers are in television, showrunners, and they believe in hiring women. I’m not saying all of them, but a lot of them, and a lot of the ones that really count. Whether it’s Shonda [Rhimes, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”] or Lena [Dunham, “Girls”] or Jill [Soloway, “Transparent”] or any of them, and now Ava DuVernay [creator of “Queen Sugar”].

They’re intent upon hiring women, and I think that is the major shift.


Desert Hearts” Director Donna Deitch Talks Love Scenes, Gloria Steinem, and the Sequel was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Donna Deitch’s Digitally Restored “Desert Hearts” to Screen at IFC, Receives New Trailer

Desert Hearts

Donna Deitch’s pioneering Lgbtq film “Desert Hearts” is returning to the big screen. The 1986 movie, which recently received a digital restoration, will be screening at the IFC Center in New York beginning this Wednesday, July 19. Wednesday’s premiere will be followed by a Q&A with Deitch and the stars of “Desert Hearts,” Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau. Women and Hollywood Founder and Publisher Melissa Silverstein will be moderating the discussion.

Based on Jane Rule’s 1964 novel “Desert of the Heart” and adapted by Natalie Cooper, “Desert Hearts” is the story of a love affair between two polar opposite women. “It’s 1959, and conservative English professor Vivian [Shaver] has come to Reno to get a divorce,” the film’s official synopsis details. “When she meets free-spirited Cay [Charbonneau], she discovers a side of herself she never knew existed.”

Desert Hearts” took home a Special Jury Prize at the 1986 Sundance Film Festival. It is a classic of both queer and feminist cinema, and was one of the first films to positively focus on a lesbian relationship.

Deitch discussed making “Desert Hearts” in the right-leaning 1980s during a a 2015 interview. “First of all it was very, very difficult with regards to the casting,” the director recalled. “Because casting agents really advised clients not to come in and read for any of the parts. Not just for those two characters who became lovers, but for any of the parts in the film.” She explained, “It was hugely controversial and the word was that if you were even in this film, in any of the parts, it would just be destructive to your career.”

The Museum of Modern Art hosted 30th anniversary screenings of “Desert Hearts” in December 2016.

Go to the IFC Center’s website to buy tickets or find out more. You can check out the new trailer and poster for “Desert Hearts” below.


Donna Deitch’s Digitally Restored “Desert Hearts” to Screen at IFC, Receives New Trailer was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

‘Desert Hearts’ Trailer: Donna Deitch’s Groundbreaking Lesbian Classic Restored — Watch

  • Indiewire
‘Desert Hearts’ Trailer: Donna Deitch’s Groundbreaking Lesbian Classic Restored — Watch
Set in 1959 and released in 1986, “Desert Hearts” is utterly timeless. Not only was Donna Deitch’s groundbreaking film directed and produced by a woman, but it was the first film to show two women have a romance onscreen that didn’t result in their deaths. A little over thirty years since its Sundance debut, Deitch’s classic is getting a beautiful 4k restoration and anniversary theatrical run — complete with this brand new trailer and poster.

Adapted from a novel by Jane Rule, “Desert Hearts” chronicles straitlaced English professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) who arrives in Reno to finalize her divorce. Hoping for a little peace and quiet, her world is turned upside down by the firecracker Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau). Ten years younger and not afraid to go after what she wants, Cay’s blows the lid off of Vivian’s carefully cultivated world at full speed.

The period details
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July 2017 Film Preview

Girls Trip

As “Wonder Woman” becomes the highest-grossing live action film directed by a woman, July promises to bring even more interesting, powerful women to the big screen — whether they are in front of camera or behind it. July starts with a fascinating documentary from director Lara Stolman. “Swim Team” follows swim athletes on the autism spectrum and explores how the team gives its young men a chance to feel included and in control, sometimes for the first time ever.

The second weekend in July brings a pair of noteworthy women-centric films. Netflix’s “To the Bone” is inspired by writer-director Marti Noxon’s own struggles with anorexia, and charts her unconventional road to recovery. And Shakespeare gets an update from writer Alice Birch in “Lady Macbeth,” whose titular character discovers her own power after engaging in a dangerous affair.

Things get a bit lighter on July 21, with a pair of comedies about the complex ties between women. In Gillian Robespierre’s “Landline” two sisters unexpectedly bond after discovering their father’s affair. “Girls Trip” sees four lifelong friends reconnecting at a rowdy, unforgettable weekend in New Orleans.

The month closes with a female-led action flick, and an urgent documentary sequel. Charlize Theron stars in “Atomic Blonde,” the story of an extremely talented MI6 agent who is sent to deliver a sensitive dossier to the destabilized city of Berlin. “An Inconvenient Sequel,” a follow-up to 2006’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” is a potent reminder of the imminent danger of climate change, greed, and the apathy of those in power. Co-director Bonni Cohen follows Al Gore as he makes climate change’s dangers known to the entire world — and the film is being updated to include the United States’ decision to retreat from the Paris Climate treaty.

Here are all of the women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films debuting in July. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.

July 5

“7 From Etheria” (Anthology) — Written and Directed by Karen Lam, Heidi Lee Douglas, Arantxa Echevarria, Martha Goddard, Anna Elizabeth James, Barbara Stepansky, and Rebecca Thomson

Etheria is the world’s most respected showcase of the best new horror, comedy, science fiction, fantasy, action, and thriller films made by emerging women directors. Terrifying home invasions, unexpected carjackings, and hilarious jelly wrestling are just the start; before you’re through watching this anthology, you’ll visit a Tasmanian penal colony in 1829, prove Kurt Gödel’s time-travel theorem, be victimized by strange alien substances, and dare to venture out into a devastated nuclear wasteland. “7 From Etheria” is a wild ride, so please strap on your seat belt for your own safety.

July 7

Swim Team” (Documentary) — Directed by Lara Stolman (Opens in NY; Opens in La July 21)

Swim Team

In New Jersey the parents of a boy on the autism spectrum take matters into their own hands. They form a competitive swim team, recruiting diverse teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. What happens next alters the course of the boys’ lives. “Swim Team” chronicles the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence, and a life that feels winning.

Austin Found” — Co-Written by Brenna Graziano (Also Available on VOD)

Austin Found

Leanne Miller (Linda Cardellini, “Freaks and Geeks”) is a 36-year-old wife and mother whose hunger for fame and fortune leads her down a dangerous path. A former beauty queen and prom queen, Leanne is fed up with her unglamorously average lifestyle and decides to take matters into her own hands by plotting a scheme to make her family instant celebrities. Teaming up with her ex-boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich, “Riverdale”), and his ex-con buddy, Jebidiah (Craig Robinson, “The Office”), Leanne conspires to have her 11-year-old daughter, Patty (Ursula Parker, “Louie”), kidnapped for just a month or two. All Leanne has to do is keep the local press (Kristen Schaal, “Bob’s Burgers”) and Sheriff (Patrick Warburton, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”) focused on the case at hand and off hers. What could go wrong?

The Rehearsal” — Directed by Alison Maclean; Written by Alison Maclean and Emily Perkins

The Rehearsal

New York-based filmmaker Alison Maclean returns to her native New Zealand to tell this potent, emotionally textured coming-of-age story set among a group of budding acting students. Stanley (James Rolleston), a naïve first-year student, meets Isolde (Ella Edward) and begins a sweet, first love affair. Goaded by Hannah (Kerry Fox, “An Angel at My Table”), the charismatic, domineering Head of Acting, Stanley uncovers a talent and ambition he didn’t know he had. When his group hits on a sex scandal that involves Isolde’s tennis prodigy sister as fertile material for their end-of-year show, Stanley finds himself profoundly torn.

July 12

“500 Years” (Documentary) — Directed by Pamela Yates (Opens in NY)

“500 Years”: Daniel Hernández-Salazar

From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, “500 Years” tells a sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history, through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society.

Bronx Gothic” (Documentary) (Opens in NY; Opens in La July 28)

Bronx Gothic

An electrifying portrait of writer and performer Okwui Okpokwasili and her acclaimed one-woman show, “Bronx Gothic.” Rooted in memories of her childhood, Okwui — who’s worked with conceptual artists like Ralph Lemon and Julie Taymor — fuses dance, song, drama, and comedy to create a mesmerizing space in which audiences can engage with a story about two 12-year-old black girls coming of age in the 1980s. With intimate vérité access to Okwui and her audiences off the stage, “Bronx Gothic” allows for unparalleled insight into her creative process as well as the complex social issues embodied in it.

Julius Caesar” (Filmed Stage Production) — Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Opens in the UK)

Julius Caesar”: donmarwarehouse.com/Helen Maybanks

Julius Caesar” depicts the catastrophic consequences of a political leader’s extension of his powers beyond the remit of the constitution. As Brutus (Harriet Walter) wrestles with his moral conscience over the assassination of Julius Caesar (Jackie Clune), Mark Antony (Jade Anouka) manipulates the crowd through his subtle and incendiary rhetoric.

July 14

To the Bone” — Written and Directed by Marti Noxon (Available on Netflix)

To the Bone

Based on the real-life experiences of writer-director Marti Noxon, “To the Bone” shares the story of 20-year-old Ellen (Lily Collins) and her battle with anorexia. Ellen enters a group home run by an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) where she and the other residents go on a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing journey — navigating their addictions and finding the path to choosing life.

Lady Macbeth” — Written by Alice Birch

Lady Macbeth

Rural England, 1865. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family is cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Birthright: A War Story” (Documentary) — Directed by Civia Tamarkin; Written by Civia Tamarkin and Luchina Fisher (Opens in NY; Opens in La July 28)

Birthright: A War Story

Birthright: A War Story” is a feature length documentary that examines how women are being jailed, physically violated, and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. The film tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts, and religious doctrine to govern whether, when, and how women will bear children. This is the real-life “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Wish Upon” — Written by Barbara Marshall

Wish Upon

Twelve years after discovering her mother’s suicide, 17-year-old Clare Shannon (Joey King) is bullied in high school, embarrassed by her manic, hoarder father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe), and ignored by her longtime crush. All that changes when her father comes home with an old music box whose inscription promises to grant its owner seven wishes. While Clare is initially skeptical of this magic box, she can’t help but be seduced by its dark powers, and is thrilled as her life radically improves with each wish. Clare finally has the life she’s always wanted and everything seems perfect — until the people closest to her begin dying in violent and elaborate ways after each wish. Clare realizes that she must get rid of the box, but finds herself unable and unwilling to part with her new-and-improved life — leading her down a dark and dangerous path.

“The Midwife” (Opens in NY)

“The Midwife”

Two of French cinema’s biggest stars shine in this bittersweet drama about the unlikely friendship that develops between Claire (Catherine Frot), a talented but tightly wound midwife, and Béatrice (Catherine Deneuve), the estranged, free-spirited mistress of Claire’s late father. Though polar opposites in almost every way, the two come to rely on each other as they cope with the unusual circumstance that brought them together in this sharp character study from director Martin Provost (“Séraphine”).



Footnotes” is a whimsical and original musical comedy about Julie (Pauline Etienne), a young woman struggling to make ends meet in France’s radically changing economy. Living out of a backpack, Julie spends her days jumping from job to job until she’s finally offered a temporary stockroom position at a women’s luxury shoe factory. After making friends with the boss’s spunky receptionist Sophie (Julie Victor) and the ever-charming factory truck driver Samy (Olivier Chantreau), Julie thinks the hard times are behind her. But Julie’s dreams of stability collapse when management threatens to close down the factory.

Chasing Coral” (Documentary)— Co-Written by Vickie Curtis (Available on Netflix)

Chasing Coral

Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

False Confessions” — Co-Directed by Marie-Louise Bischofberger (Opens in NY; Opens in La July 21)

False Confessions

Isabelle Huppert commands the screen as Araminte, the wealthy widow who unwittingly hires the smitten Dorante (Louis Garrel) as her accountant. Secrets and lies accumulate as Dorante and his accomplice, Araminte’s manservant Dubois (Yves Jacques), manipulate not only the good-hearted Araminte, but also her friend and confidante, Marton (Manon Combes). Dorante, by turns pitiable and proficient, but always deferential to his social better, walks a fine line in his quest to arouse an equal desire in the object of his affections.

Blind” — Co-Written by Diane Fisher

A novelist blinded in the car crash (Alec Baldwin) that killed his wife rediscovers his passion for both life and writing when he embarks on an affair with the neglected wife (Demi Moore) of an indicted businessman (Dylan McDermott).

July 19

Desert Hearts” (Theatrical Re-Release)— Directed Donna Deitch; Written by Natalie Cooper (Opens in NY)

Desert Hearts

Based on Jane Rule’s 1964 novel, Donna Deitch’s narrative feature debut centers on a burgeoning lesbian romance between libertine casino worker Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau) and repressed university professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) in Reno, Nevada in the late 1950s, a climate wherein being queer was… complicated. Landmark in its positive portrayal of sapphic romance and celebrated for its passionate, sensual bedroom scenes that nearly fog the camera’s lens, Deitch’s vision for Cay and Vivian’s nuanced onscreen relationship explores the tension inherent in a sheltered woman accepting her newfound sexual self.

July 21

Landline” — Directed by Gillian Robespierre; Written by Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm


When two sisters suspect their father (John Turturro) may be having an affair, it sends them into a tailspin that reveals cracks in the family façade. For the first time, older sister Dana (Jenny Slate), recently engaged and struggling with her own fidelity, finds herself bonding with her wild teenage sister Ali (Abby Quinn). The two try to uncover the truth without tipping off their mother (Edie Falco) and discover the messy reality of love and sex in the process. Set in 1990s Manhattan, “Landline” is a warm, insightful, and comedic drama about a family united by secrets and lies.

Girls Trip” — Co-Written by Tracy Oliver

Girls Trip

When four lifelong friends — Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish — travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

The Untamed” (Opens in NY)

The Untamed

Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) is a young mother and housewife who raises her children with her husband, Angel (Jesús Meza), in a small town. His brother Fabian (Eden Villavicencio) is a nurse at a local hospital. Their provincial lives are altered with the arrival of the mysterious Veronica (Simone Bucio). Sex and love are fragile in certain regions where family values ​​exist and hypocrisy, homophobia, and sexism are strong. Veronica convinces them that in the nearby forest, in a secluded cabin, there is something that is not of this world but that is the answer to all their problems.

Scales: Mermaids Are Real

Siren Phillips (Emmy Perry) has lived her life thinking she’s an ordinary girl, in an ordinary town. On the eve of her birthday, however, she learns that she is far from ordinary. Destined to turn into a mermaid at the age of 12, Siren must struggle with her new reality, saying goodbye to her mother and friends, while she transitions into the water. To make matters worse, a group of hunters are after her. When Siren’s mother is taken, the town must rally behind her and help her make a peaceful transition into the water, before the hunters can find her.

“The Fencer” — Written by Anna Heinämaa

“The Fencer”

A young man, Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi), arrives in Haapsalu, Estonia, in the early 1950s. Having left Leningrad to escape the secret police, he finds work as a teacher and founds a sports club for his students. Endel becomes a father figure to his students and starts teaching them his great passion — fencing. Fencing becomes a form of self-expression for the children and Endel becomes a role model. The children want to participate in a national fencing tournament in Leningrad, and Endel must make a choice: risk everything to take the children to Leningrad or put his safety first and disappoint them.

July 26

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” (Documentary) — Co-Written and Co-Directed by Catherine Bainbridge

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

“Rumble” tells the story of a profound, essential, and, until now, missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, and Randy Castillo, “Rumble” shows how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.

July 28

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde

Oscar-winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in “Atomic Blonde,” a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors. The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality, and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

The Incredible Jessica James” (Available on Netflix)

The Incredible Jessica James

Jessica Williams (“The Daily Show”) stars as a young, aspiring playwright in New York City who is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She is forced to go on a date with the recently divorced Boone, played by Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”), and the unlikely duo discover how to make it through the tough times in a social media obsessed post-relationship universe. Lakeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”, “Get Out”) and Noël Wells (“Master of None”) co-star.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (Documentary)— Co-Directed by Bonni Cohen

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”: Paramount Pictures and Participant Media

A decade after “An Inconvenient Truth” brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the empowering notion that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

Strange Weather” — Written and Directed by Katherine Dieckmann (Also Available on VOD)

Strange Weather

Academy Award winner Holly Hunter gets behind the wheel in this engrossing story of a woman’s quest for rectitude in the wake of harrowing loss. Steeped in a strong sense of place and peopled by convention-defying characters, Katherine Dieckmann’s “Strange Weather” draws you into its sultry Southern milieu and takes you on a backroads trek you won’t soon forget.

“From the Land of the Moon” — Co-Written and Directed by Nicole Garcia

“From the Land of the Moon”

In 1950s France, Gabrielle (Marion Cottilard) is a passionate, free-spirited woman in a loveless marriage, and falls for another man when she is sent away to the Alps to treat her kidney stones. Gabrielle yearns to free herself and run away with André (Louis Garrel).

It Stains the Sands Red

It Stains the Sands Red

In the throes of a zombie apocalypse, Molly (Brittany Allen) — a troubled woman from Las Vegas with a dark past — finds herself stranded in the desert with a lone and ravenous zombie on her tail (Juan Riedinger). Easily able to outpace her un-dead pursuer at first, things quickly become a nightmare when it dawns on her that the zombie will never need to stop and rest. This is the epic story of one woman’s journey to outrun not only the immediate threat that follows her, but the demons who have chased her all her life.

July 2017 Film Preview was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

‘The Amityville Horror’ Blu-ray Review (Second Sight)

Stars: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Don Stroud, Murray Hamilton, John Larch, Natasha Ryan, K.C. Martel, Meeno Peluce, Michael Sacks, Helen Shaver | Written by Sandor Stern | Directed by Stuart Rosenberg

When films say they are based on true stories, it is easy to take such statements with a pinch of salt. The Amityville Horror though is one that is so enshrined in pop culture that it has a whole legend built up around it, whether it is true or not. Second Sight have now brought the popular horror to Blu-ray in the UK and it is well worth buying.

The Amityville Horror is the story of the Lutz family, who move into the perfect family home on the coast of Long Island. Surprised at how cheap it was, it soon becomes apparent why when the shocking history of the house is revealed, along with the demonic presence that resides there.
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

Trailer Watch: “Anne” Can Do Anything a Boy Can Do and More

Amybeth McNulty in “Anne”

“My name is Anne Shirley Cuthbert, and please be sure to spell ‘Anne’ with an ‘e’,” the heroine of Netflix’s newest series requests on her first day at a new school. Even if you’ve never heard of “Anne of Green Gables” before, that one line tells you all you need to know about the outspoken, self-assured protagonist.

Based on L.M. Montgomery’s classic series of novels, “Anne” follows the imaginative and adventurous Anne Shirley (Amybeth McNulty), a young orphan, as she arrives at Prince Edward Island near the turn of the century. “After an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and the homes of strangers, [Anne] is mistakenly sent to live with an aging sister and brother,” the official synopsis reads. “Over time, 13-year-old Anne will transform the lives of Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson) and eventually the entire small town in which they live with her unique spirit, fierce intellect, and brilliant imagination. Anne’s adventures will reflect timeless and topical issues including themes of identity, feminism, bullying, and prejudice.”

The new spot for “Anne” touches on these themes as we see the main character humiliated when a classmate tells her, “I won’t eat next to dirty trash.” But Anne can handle herself: The trailer also shows her arguing with Marilla that “girls can do anything a boy can do and more,” and smacking classmate Gilbert (“20th Century Women’s” Lucas Jade Zumann) across the face with a book after he pulls her hair.

Emmy-winner Moira Walley-Beckett (“Breaking Bad”) is “Anne’s” showrunner. She penned every episode and serves as exec producer alongside Miranda de Pencier (“Beginners”).

Niki Caro helmed the first episode of the series, while Sandra Goldbacher (“Me Without You”), Helen Shaver (“Orphan Black”), Patricia Rozema (“Into the Forest”), and Amanda Tapping (“Supernatural”) are among the series’ other directors.

“Anne” premieres on Netflix May 12.


Trailer Watch: “Anne” Can Do Anything a Boy Can Do and More was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

10th Annual Qfest St. Louis – Lgbtq Film Festival Runs March 29th – April 2nd at the .Zack

It’s almost time to get your Q on, St. Louis!!

The 10h Annual QFest St. Louis, presented by Cinema St. Louis, runs March 29th – April 2nd at the .Zack (3224 Locust St., St. Louis, Mo 63103)

The St. Louis-based Lgbtq film festival, QFest will present an eclectic slate of films from filmmakers that represent a wide variety of voices in contemporary queer world cinema. The mission of the film festival is to use the art of contemporary gay cinema to illustrate the diversity of the Lgbtq community and to explore the complexities of living an alternative lifestyle.

All screenings at the .Zack (3224 Locust St., St. Louis, Mo 63103). Individual tickets are $13 for general admission, $10 for students and Cinema St. Louis members with valid and current photo IDs.

Advance tickets may be purchased at the Hi-Pointe Backlot box office or website. For more info, visit the Cinema St. Louis site Here

See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Sundance 2017 Announces Late Additions, From The Collection Films and Quentin Tarantino Q&A

  • Indiewire
Sundance 2017 Announces Late Additions, From The Collection Films and Quentin Tarantino Q&A
The 2017 Sundance Film Festival may already have announced their premieres, Spotlights, Competition and Next lineup, among other films and installations, but there’s four more features joining the festival.

Sundance Institute has added two Documentary Premieres and two archive From The Film Collection movies to next year’s lineup. The two documentaries are “Bending the Arc” and “Long Strange Trip,” with the archive films being “Desert Hearts” and “Reservoir Dogs,” which premiered at Sundance in 1986 and 1992, respectively. The 25th anniversary screening of Quentin Tarantino’s classic will be followed by an extended Q&A with Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender.

Read More: Sundance 2017: The Lineup So Far

The archive films are selections from the the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA, a joint venture between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Sundance Institute, established in 1997. With these additions, the festival will present 118 feature-length films, which represent 32 countries and 37 first-time filmmakers. For
See full article at Indiewire »

Two docs, two from the archives join Sundance 2017 roster

  • ScreenDaily
Two docs, two from the archives join Sundance 2017 roster
Festival brass on Wednesday added two Documentary Premieres as well as a pair of favourites from the vaults – Desert Hearts and Reservoir Dogs.

Documentary Premieres are Haitian activism story Bending The Arc from Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos, and Long Strange Trip, about The Grateful Dead, from Happy Valley and The Tillman Story director Amir Bar-Lev.

Desert Hearts and Reservoir Dogs premiered at Sundance in 1986 and 1992, respectively. Quentin Tarantino and Reservoir Dogs producer Lawrence Bender will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

The archive films are selections from the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA, a joint venture between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Sundance Institute established in 1997 that has grown to more than 4,000 holdings representing close to 2,300 titles.

The four additions boost the 2017 roster to 118 feature films representing 32 countries and 37 first-time filmmakers, including 20 in competition.

Entries were selected from 13,782 submissions including 4,068 features and 8,985 shorts. Of the feature submissions, 2,005 were from the Us and 2,063 were international. One hundred
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Travelers: Netflix Sci-Fi Series with Eric McCormack Begins Production

[caption id="attachment_47680" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Courtesy of Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc./caption]

Netflix and Showcase have announced the start of production on the new original Travelers TV series. The time-traveling sci-fi drama is shooting on location in Vancouver. Travelers is produced by Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc., in association with Showcase and Netflix.

The Travelers cast includes: Eric McCormack, Mackenzie Porter, Patrick Gilmore, Jared Abrahamson, Nesta Cooper, Reilly Dolman, J. Alex Brinson, Arnold Pinnock, Dylan Playfair, and Ian Tracey. Travelers is written, created and produced by Brad Wright. Nick Hurran is directing the pilot. Andy Mikita, Helen Shaver, Martin Wood, Will Waring, and Amanda Tapping will also direct in the first season.

Read More…
See full article at TVSeriesFinale »

Vikings season 4 episode 4 review: Yol

  • Den of Geek



Women, power and ownership are recurring themes in Vikings season 4 episode 4, Yol. Here's our review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.4 Yol

This season has been a bit of a disappointment thus far for me, in a certain way. If you’ve been following my reviews, you know I’m a tremendous fan of Lagertha’s—primarily of her take-no-shit way of dealing with a world which insists that she is a second-class citizen. And we’ve had little chance to enjoy that aspect of her this season.

What I have loved about the show’s depiction of her is that it doesn’t pull punches about what the price of being that kind of woman is. She’s paid a heavy price for being female and living her life with honour as she defines it (rather than how others might define it for her). It’s meant leaving
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Quietcast: Viff Industry 2015: Helen Shaver on Directing Television [Interview]

You may not realize it but over a decade ago Helen Shaver, well recognized for her work as an actress on such varied projects as The Believers, The Color of Money and The Amityville Horror to her roles on TV, most notably in "Poltergeist: The Legacy," made the transition to working behind the camera and has spent most of her time directing everything from "The Outer Limits" and "The Firm" to, most recently, episodes of History Channel's epic, action-heavy drama "Vikings" and BBC America's "Orphan Black" for which she received a nomination for the 2015 Dgc Best Director Award.

Shaver is in Vancouver this week at Viff Industry which runs September 29 to October 3, and will be presenting " [Continued ...]
See full article at QuietEarth »

Locarno 2015. The Traitor and the Hero

  • MUBI
This article by Fernando Ganzo is an excerpt from Capricci's monograph Sam Peckinpah, edited by Ganzo, which accompanies this year's retrospective at the Locarno Film Festival.Warren Oates in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. © Park Circus / MGM“Don’t ever ruin your career as a loser with a shitty success.”—Jorge OteizaThere is only one thing that can be said about a person as erratic, contradictory, mythomaniac, complex and profound as Sam Peckinpah: here is a director who was made in the image of his characters, those men who belong to a different era, born too late, in a world that opposed all freedom and eccentricity. We like to describe Peckinpah as one of the fathers of New Hollywood, of the baroque aesthetic of the 1970s, as someone who had a primordial and often regrettable influence on that particular style. This is not completely false. However, this
See full article at MUBI »

Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany: Why My Emmy Nod Is All 'About the Fans,' Plus: Her Cheeky Submission Idea

Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany: Why My Emmy Nod Is All 'About the Fans,' Plus: Her Cheeky Submission Idea
Emmy voters may soon get an eyeful of Donnie’s tighty whities, thanks to Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany.

Now that the chameleon-like star of the BBC America series has earned her first Emmy Award nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama, she’s thinking ahead to which episode she’ll submit to the Television Academy for consideration. Her pick, with the humble Maslany giving much of the credit for the standout hour to director Helen Shaver: Season 3’s sixth installment, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield.”

VideosOrphan Black Cast & EPs Talk Paul’s Ultimate Fate, Season 4 Love Forecast
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Orphan Black, Ep. 3.06, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield” strengthens season three’s return to form

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 6, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”

Written by Aubrey Nealon

Directed by Helen Shaver

Airs Saturdays at 9pm (Et) on BBC America

Given the inconsistency of Orphan Black season three, it was easy to fear last week’s moving installment would be a blip in an otherwise unremarkable season. Thankfully, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield” builds on the strengths of its predecessor, continuing its character-based approach and efforts to tie as many threads as possible into the central narrative of the season, Project Castor’s conflict with Sarah and the rest of Clone Club.

Paul has been a problem character for much of the run of Orphan Black. The creative team are clearly fond of the character, bringing him back time and again when he could have easily been written out, but few of his character pivots have worked. He was Beth’s boyfriend, then her uninformed monitor,
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