I’m glad I’m a member of Film Independent! It’s a MUST for film lovers, there are plenty of exclusive screenings, conversations, classes, etc. as well as FYC screeners during award season. Thanks to those screeners, I got to see quite a few of films written & directed by women so early in the year, and here are my quick thoughts on the four I watched recently that are up for Spirit Awards this year:
Queen of Glory
Written/Directed Nana Mensah
I love personal stories that celebrates one’s heritage and culture. This one centers on a Ghanaian-American Sarah who’s set to ditch her Ivy League doctoral program to follow her married lover across the country, that is until her mother suddenly died and bequeath her a Christian bookstore in the Bronx. The romance aspect between the main character and her lover isn’t fully fleshed out, but I was more taken by Sarah’s relationship with the bookstore employee Pitt (rapper Meeko).
It’s not a perfect movie but as an immigrant, there’s plenty here to relate to and reflect on so it’s well worth a watch. Nana Mensah is so talented as the writer/director AND star, I’m curious to see what else she’ll do in the future!
Written/Directed by Lauren Hadaway
I actually enjoy rowing at my gym, it’s actually my favorite cardio exercise. So the premise about a college freshman joining a rowing team sounds interesting. The protagonist’ obsessive personality is portrayed in such an intense way with horror-tinged score. Isabelle Fuhrman is terrific in the role and there are some really gorgeous rowing imagery.
I can’t say the movie is enjoyable to watch and at the end I was questioning what the whole point was. Still, I think it’s a remarkable feature debut from Lauren Hadaway, hope she continues to make more films.
Written/Directed Nikole Beckwith
One of my good friends recommended this to me and since I have access to a bunch of FYC screeners, I thought about giving it a shot. I’m impressed with Nikole Beckwith‘s sophomore feature that subverts the rom-com genre. The dialog is witty and flows naturally, and the story has a lot of emotional depth.
I hadn’t heard of Patti Harrison who’s apparently a trans comedienne, she’s really good here and convincing in her role opposite Ed Helms.
Written/Directed by Nicole Riegel
A promising first feature from Nicole Riegel about a rather depressing topic of a girl who joins a scrap metal crew to pay for college. It’s a harsh life and at times hard to watch, but there’s also the beauty of human resilience and the warmth of sibling relationship. Jessica Barden with her sorrowful eyes delivers a poignant performance. The film can be slow at times but I was invested in the protagonist’s journey the entire time, I also appreciate the hopeful ending that feels organic instead of fantastical.
This one reminds me a bit of CODA who also has a high-school age female protagonist trying to survive in their world, whose lead actress is also English playing an American convincingly.