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.
4 thoughts on “Mini Reviews of #SpiritAwards Nominees – Queen of Glory | The Novice | Together Together | Holler”
I’ve never heard of any of these movies but it’s nice to see films from someone that’s starting out and hopefully they’ll hit it big with their upcoming films. For me it was Chris Nolan, I saw his first film Following at some small film fest in the late 90s. I didn’t think much of it after I saw it, then couple of years later he came out with Memento and I thought he’ll be the new hot director in Hollywood.
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