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100 More Films Made By Women – Part 16 of 20

Simple pleasures likes music cause a stir in one remarkable movie in the next 5 films made by women. And you think Pop Idol is controversial. Continue your education here:

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) – Lotte Reiniger

The oldest surviving animated film in the history is a breathtaking, truly adventurous and sensuous feast for all senses. Released in 1926, it took several years and thousands of frames to make this gem by German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, a pioneer. Several avant-garde animators of the time worked with her on this painstaking project, most prominently her husband Carl Koch who photographed it. As the title suggests, this is based on stories from the “One Thousand and One Nights”. Made using the silhouette animation technique which Reiniger herself invented, it involved cardboard cutouts manipulated under a camera. And what fantastic cutouts. Sheer cinematic, expressive storytelling. The magical wonder and awe, the romance, tale of witches and monsters of kings and magicians. It encapsulates the rich essence of its source and the medium itself. Be it film, animation or literature. The energy is well intact, it doesn’t seem least bit aged, in fact more new and wondrous than ever. Seek out this animation masterpiece which has influenced so many others. – – – Asif Khan @KHAN2705

Hounddog (2007) – Deborah Kampmeier

While what lies beneath and beyond the surface of Deborah Kampmeier’s Hounddog (writer, director, producer) is a gritty, spirited coming-of-age drama, the film has been dragging its feet in the mud ever since the over-the-top reaction to the rape scene which came out of its screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The scene in question is horrific even in its briefness, and was certainly a sucker punch, but more suggestive than graphic, and Kampmeier is careful in her framing and execution. There is a lot more to this movie, namely the then 12 year-old Dakota Fanning, playing a girl who finds comfort and inspiration in the songs of Elvis Presley during her particularly struggle-some adolescence. Hounddog was a terrific platform for Fanning, an actress with so much promise, she gives everything she has here while remaining spirited and full of poise. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Afghan Star (2009) – Havana Marking

Astute and candid, Havana Marking directs the documentary Afghan Star, which blends together the well-known elements of the troubles in Afghanistan and the reality TV song contest culture (The Taliban remember banned music during their rule). The film follows four such contestants (Afghan Star being the show’s name), Hameed, Setara, Rafi, and Lema – two men and a more unprecedented two women. Halfway through the insightful, awakening documentary we witness Setara eliminated from the contest, and she proceeds in her farewell song to not only dance freely, hips and all, but allows her hijab (Muslim head scarf) to fall. There are actual gasps from those watching backstage, and for her open-minded encouragement and free spirit Setara’s reward is to receive death threats and be evicted from her home. The documentary’s key message is also poignantly displayed in the opening scene, where a blind Afghan boy sings a song before gleefully declaring he feels happy when he listens to music. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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In Bloom (2013) – Nana Ekvtimishvili

Violence as a virus in post-Communist Georgia. Eka and Natia must navigate their adolescence in a society that has already abandoned them. Their generation lives a disconnected existence: from their elders, their responsibilities, even each other. Eka’s disconnect is double, as she is confronted with the burden of acknowledging alone the challenges this generation faces, as her peers fall unaware into pre-destined roles. As societal strictures cut through what menial advancements these two are capable of exacting, an unspoken, unavoidable struggle is born between past and future, what one is bound to do and what one endeavours to do. Nana Ekvtimishvili leaves us unsure if Eka and Natia will ever be capable of making these advancements, in a country still clinging to its past. But while it accepts its violence and abuse, it cannot ignore their repercussions, as characters mete out vengeance on others, paying forward crimes committed against them. Our passive and impassive protagonist becomes more reactionary as she is delegated responsibilities of her own, by adults who seem to expect her to be both obedient child and independent adult, and by Natia, whose questionable influence makes for the greatest adjustment. How she elects to apply her new, self-imposed duties as a mature individual forms the foundation for much of In Bloom‘s drama and tension, and it’s riveting as a result. – – – Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen

Last Night (2010) – Massy Tadjedin

Last Night spawns the potential for heavy drama through the story-line’s injection of romance. It is misplaced romance though, or rather forbidden. Joanna (Keira Knightley) is married to Michael (Sam Worthington), and she suspects he is cheating on her with his colleague Laura (Eva Mendes), with whom he is about to embark on yet another business trip. In that time Joanna meets up with Alex (Guillaume Canet), an old flame where the fire has certainly not burned out. There are kisses, embraces, more significantly the lure and temptation to enter that emotional danger-zone. Last Night is not just pure jealousy, but also the suspicion and instinct, that sixth sense about what you fear has happened, or will. There’s a whiff of Eyes Wide Shut in it’s set up, but writer-director Massy Tadjedin makes this her own, with a steady, appropriate, and affecting pace, as well as a true intrigue into the kinetics of these over-lapping adult relationships. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Originally published in August 2016.

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