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100 More Films Made By Women – Part 17 of 20

Well, here we have 5 more films made by women. As always you are implored to seek them out and watch them at your next convenience. Here we bring back our childhood, explore immediate family ties, as well as developing new romantic bonds.


Sierra (2013) – Chelsea Christer

A project extremely close to the heart of the film-maker, Sierra was the name of Chelsea Christer’s horse, for which this delicate, emotional little drama is in honor of. Nicole Renee Jones’ Charlie, a city girl forced to reflect, rediscover, and reconnect with her family and childhood, echoes the director herself through this biographical effort – the love of horses, the blue hair, the black & white leggings are also exhibitive. Back on the ranch after a long time away in the hustle bustle of city life, Charlie has to plow through the literal change of scenery, adapting to her former way of living. The parents too, though, have to accept who she is now – a grown up woman with tattoos. The heartbreak of saying goodbye to her horse is what brings it all back to her, a kind of familiar comfort derived from forlorn circumstances. Supported gracefully by the music of Jonathan Haidle and photography of Patrick Lawler, Christer’s filmic scope, character mold, and eye for the sweeping beauty on screen, make the whole journey a poignant one. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) – Marielle Heller

Bold and alive in its storytelling and depiction, Heller’s directorial debut is a rare film of its kind. Rare for subject matter and the way it has been dealt with in this wonderful gem. Portrayal of female experience, sexuality, growing up, turbulent and crucial age. Neither judging the central character nor defining her by the mistakes she makes on her way to self-discovery and learning. Not only that but the film truly leaves a mark for giving the character a voice of her own. So much so that she feels real. Her observations, urges, desires, be it her insecurities or basic outlook on life and her surrounding. True to its title, a frank and immensely personal account of 15-year-old Minnie Goetze. Her life, her voice, her diary. Featuring Bel Powley’s strong performance along with a competent supporting cast, it is pleasing on other technical and aesthetic fronts. Heller is a sensation to watch out for. – – – Asif Khan @KHAN2705

The Second Mother (2015) – Anna Muylaert

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival last year, The Second Mother is a Brazilian comedy / drama written and directed by Anna Muylaert. The genre blend comes from what is on the outset a collection of tough themes – estranged daughters, class divides – but executed in a manner that is boisterous and true. The mother of the title, Val (Regina Casé), is a live-in housemaid for a wealthy family in São Paulo, whose long-unseen daughter Jéssica (Camila Márdila) comes to stay in an attempt to get into university. Jéssica does not conform to the “proper” standards od such a household and tensions ensue. Muylaert’s film is quick-witted, penetrating, and smart, Casé and Márdila also nail the chemistry of a mother-daughter under strain. The Second Mother was not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film with the Academy Awards for 2015, but had I seen this earlier it would have figured somewhere in my end of year honors list. – – – Robin Write@WriteoutofLA

Paris is Burning (1990) – Jennie Livingston

Livingston’s 1990 documentary is a vibrant, celebratory look at the New York’s ballroom subculture during the 1980’s among the African-American and Hispanic gays, transgender women and drag queens. Both insightful, vivid, boosting the energy as well as sobering because of harsh realities these people face. Marginalized from a society that won’t accept who they are. Won’t include them and certainly won’t join them. Competing in competitions, judged for how well they sport a look or dance, a sense of community, family and belonging. Stylish as it is, witty as it may be, the reality of their lives gets to you. Participants give personal interviews, putting their lives right in front of us. Everything they have faced and continue to deal with every single day. Poignant and informative without reducing its subjects down to a mere surface fascination or things to be studied. The film is fiercely human and compelling in its representation. Livingston wants to know them, she listens to them and by the end, you have found a piece of yourself within these people. We all want to live the way we want to. Love who we want to. Our dreams and hopes, we all strive for them every day. We share that. – – – Asif Khan @KHAN2705

Aiste Dirziute and Julija Steponaityte in Summer of Sangaile

The Summer of Sangailė (2015) – Alanté Kavaïté

The framing The Summer of Sangailė is immaculate, mixing beautifully lit landscape shots, off-center close-ups, a whole host of photographic depths throughout. You’d call it dreamy if it did not feel so very real. The Lithuanian-language film, written and directed by Alantė Kavaitė, depicts a level of anxiety as well as a spontaneous, flourishing romance as the title girl is encouraged to gloss over her own self-harm when she is wooed by another. Actresses Aisté Dirziute and Julija Steponaityte (Sangailė) have an electric chemistry portraying the strong mutual attraction, their bliss is simply poetic. Kavaitė directs with a gentle, calming allure, the lingering absence of words speaks as loud as the sparse, effective dialogue. – – – Robin Write@WriteoutofLA

Originally published in August 2016.


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