Festival returns with a diverse lineup | Women & Film

Leader news staff
Posted 4/22/21

Women & Film is back with a diverse lineup.

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Festival returns with a diverse lineup | Women & Film


Women & Film is back with a diverse lineup.

ACTING: The First Six Lessons’ (Narrative feature)

Directed by Emily Bridges, this unique marriage of narrative and documentary storytelling gives an intimate glimpse into the life and professional craft of her family lineage.

The director’s grandfather, Lloyd Bridges, had a passion for acting, a passion which he instilled in his sons, Jeff and Beau Bridges. Now a third-generation actor herself, she presents this film, which was originally presented on stage.

Based on the 1933 book of the same name, a teacher (Beau Bridges) meets with an eager student (Emily Bridges) and imparts six important lessons. Together, they explore the craft of acting while evolving in their understanding and appreciation of life itself.

‘ELIJAH & THE ROCK CREATURE’ (Narrative feature)

In this family-friendly interstellar adventure, directed by Jennifer Walden, young Elijah gets lost in the wilderness. Along the way, he meets an extraordinary creature who, as it turns out, is also lost.

Though light-hearted, the film revolves around profound issues and is punctuated throughout by beautiful metaphors.

‘KILLING ELEANOR’ (Narrative feature)

In “Killing Eleanor,” two unlikely allies meet: Natalie (Annika Marks), who is fresh out of rehab, and Eleanor (Jenny O’Hara), who is terminally ill and determined to take control of the end of her life.

When Natalie’s family demands that she get weekly drug tests, Natalie reluctantly agrees to help Eleanor die in exchange for clean urine samples. Complications ensue as Eleanor’s past and Natalie’s lies catch up with them.

The film is directed by Rich Newey with the screenplay written by his wife and lead actor, Marks.

Marks, as the character Natalie, brings warmth and compassion to the reality of addiction and recovery.


A film directed by Nicole Conn, its title is inspired by “Kintsukuroi,”  a Japanese term that proposes that an object becomes more beautiful for having been broken and then lovingly repaired.

The film chronicles an FBI agent who gets suspended from her job. At the same time struggling with the loss of her mother, she travels to a small mountain town she used to visit as a child. The ex-agent is befriended by a woman and her son Freddie, who has a unique outlook on life.

As a romance blooms between the two women, family secrets begin to intrude.

‘BEHIND THE NAME SHAKESPEARE: Power, Lust, Scorn & Scandal’ (Documentary feature)

A costume-filled film by Robin Phillips shares the joyful journey into literary history’s greatest mystery: Who really wrote the works of Shakespeare?

Remaining faithful to Elizabethan theater, sprinkles of humor keep this documentary fun and interesting as Phillips teaches and entertains audiences. 

‘THE BIG SCARY ‘S’ WORD’ (Documentary feature)

What do Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King Jr. all have in common?

Socialism. A word plagued by conflicting definitions: is it dictatorship or democracy?

With inequality growing, a climate catastrophe looming, and right-wing extremism ascending around the world, many Americans are wondering whether capitalism is to blame. Directed by Yael Bridge, explore a film that imagines what a renewed American socialism might look like today and tomorrow.

‘THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE’ (Documentary feature)

This film from Maria Finitzo explores the work of women who are shattering myths and lies about female sexual desire.

The motion picture challenges traditional ideas by focusing on artist Sophia Wallace’s “cliteracy” project and Dr. Stacey Dutton’s commitment to pushing the publishing industry to correct past omissions of the clitoris in anatomy textbooks.

The film also shines a light on Dr. Lisa Diamond’s work in dismantling outdated notions around women’s arousal. Industrial designer Ti Chang is also represented in the film as she heads a company designing and manufacturing elegant vibrators for women. Showcasing the women at the pulse of pleasure, “The Dilemma of Desire” proves it’s never too late to leave old ideas behind.

‘THE GIRL WHO WORE FREEDOM’ (Documentary feature)

The once idyllic landscape of Normandy, France succumbed to German invaders who overran its farms, its manors, its countryside.

Director Christian Taylor introduces us to many people who recount their unique relationships with the Allied forces who liberated Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Explored through interviews with French survivors and American veterans, the journey from occupation to liberation is depicted in this powerful personal film.

‘I AM JANE DOE’ (Documentary feature)

“I am Jane Doe” sheds light on two horrific truths: one, a market in child sex trafficking is thriving; and two, there are legal loopholes that protect the websites where children are sold.

Director Mary Mazzio zeroes in on what a victims’ advocate calls the public square for a modern-day form of slavery. This eye-opening documentary reveals that the buying and selling of tweens and teens is very much a domestic problem, and one that is enabled by a 20-year-old piece of American law.

‘LIKE A WOMAN’ (Documentary feature)

This project, by director Gail Mooney, tells the stories of 11 incredible women who have one thing in common: They are breaking barriers working in male-dominated professions.

Five years in the making, the film examines how much the modern workplace has changed and how far it has yet to go. This will inspire, empower and inform women and girls about today’s possibilities.

‘LOVE & STUFF’ (Documentary feature)

Filmmaker Judith Helfand becomes a single mother at age 50, seven months after helping her terminally-ill mother die in home hospice.

She finds herself pushed to deal with 63 boxes of her parents’ heirlooms, the extra weight her mother had begged her to lose, and the reality of being a mother a half-century older than her daughter. “Love & Stuff” is told in the first person, exploring the transformative power of parenting and the complex, very emotional attachment to the things our loved ones have touched, and finally asks, “What is it we really need to leave to our children?”

‘NO FEAR NO FAVOR’ (Documentary feature)

“No Fear No Favor,” directed by Mirra Bank, illuminates the wrenching choices faced by impoverished Africans living every day on the front lines of the poaching crisis.

Shot over two years in Zambia’s Kafue National Park, one of the largest intact wilderness areas in the world, the film depicts the people fighting to find a balance between feeding their families and saving their fellow creatures.

‘RIVER CITY DRUMBEAT’ (Documentary feature)

Inspiring youth to thrive by connecting with the cultural traditions of their ancestors, for three decades Ed “Nardie” White has led an African-American drum corps in Louisville, Kentucky. White trains his successor Albert Shumake to take over, while high-schoolers navigate adolescence.

Directed by Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté, this is a multi-generational story of music, love, and legacy set in the American South.

This year’s Women and Film shorts program focuses on “How We See Ourselves.” The short documentary collection shines light on our perception of who we are and who we think others see.


Joanne Feinberg directs “Broken/Fixed,” a conversation between an 83-year-old grandmother and 17-year-old granddaughter about society’s expectations and their own complicated relationships with their Jewish noses.


“Dear Mother Nature” follows Wyn Wiley (he/him), aka Pattie Gonia (she/her), who has made waves over the past year as an Environmental Advocate Drag Queen.

Director Tim Kressin follows Wyn as he meets with scientists and nonprofit leaders, rallies the local community to lead a beach cleanup and partners with sustainable-fashion designer Angela Luna to create three dresses that personify the crisis.


Directed by Cynthia Wade, this film follows two sisters who open the doors of their Long Island hair salon every third Monday of the month to women diagnosed with cancer.

As locks of hair fall to the floor, the women gossip, giggle, weep and face their fears, uncovering unexpected beauty along the way.

‘MISS CURVY’ (Short)

When Uganda announces its first-ever beauty pageant for plus-size women, Namukasa Mariam seizes the opportunity to join in. Hoping to gain strength by maintaining, “I’m not fat, I’m curvy,” she soon finds herself surrounded by national controversy, fierce rivalry, and extravagant characters.

Directed by Ghada Eldemellawy, “Miss Curvy” explores timeless yet contemporary issues within a uniquely African context.


Following Anne K. Abbott, born with severe cerebral palsy that leaves her unable to walk or communicate verbally, the film follows her life and her art as she manages to smash society’s misconceptions about living with a disability, one masterpiece at a time.

This intimate portrait of an “invisible” woman, directed by Charmaine Kachibaia, centers on themes of activism, love, loss, grief, creative expression, sexuality and disability.