Where Do We Go Now? – written and directed by Nadine Labaki
Where Do We Go Now? is about how the women in a Lebanese village come together across religious differences to make peace in their town. It is about how religion (any religion could be inserted) is used as a weapon to drive people apart. It is about how the men get caught up in the hatred and can't see through it, and don't realize that the people they are killing are their friends until it is too late and they are standing at another funeral.
But the women see across the differences. They are sick and tired of the dying and of burying their sons (weirdly, there are no daughters.) They never let their different beliefs become hate. They are able see their commonalities, not their differences. Labacki uses humor — as well as some deceit — to bring this village together and works to make them all see that difference is fine, hate is the enemy. Read interview with writer/director Nadine Labaki.
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts – written and directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson
When technologist Sarah (Anna Maria Hollyman) finds out she is pregnant it raises a lot of issues within her because her mother left her and her sister when they were very young. She's nervous to be a mother because she didn't have a role model. So she begins a quest to find her mother — who has gone completely off the grid much to the horror of her plugged in daughter — and reconcile all these feelings. I give Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson, the writers and directors, credit for not creating a pat Hollywood ending. Sarah doesn't get the answers she needs from her mother. But she does learn what she needs to because she is able to realize that all the answers she seeks are within her. Opens in NY today. Read interview with the writing and directing team.
Girl in Progress – directed by Patricia Riggen
Girl in Progress should really be called Girls in Progress because it is a story of how a mother Grace (Eva Mendes) and daughter Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) both grow up. Grace is a mess. She works several jobs, dates a guy who will never leave his wife, and doesn't pay enough attention to her teen daughter who at times has to take care of her. She's a Hollywood mom that you love to hate.
Daughter Ansiedad is now at the age where she looks at her mom and sees every mistake and nothing else. As a precocious and smart and unsupervised girl she takes a lesson from a teacher about coming of age stories a bit too personally. She decides to create her own coming of age story following the typical script that we see in films and read in books. Things don't work out as expected, especially because she's just a kid and doesn't have all the answers. So both mom and daughter realize that they need each other and that Grace needs to be the mom and Ansiedad needs to be the daughter…at least for a few more years.
Hick- written by Andrea Portes
Tired of fending for herself and her mother's penchant for hard-drinking men and barroom drama, 13-year-old Luli (Chloe Grace Moretz) hits the road on her own, heading west to realize her dream of becoming a superstar. Among her travels she meets Eddie, a drifter with a chip on his shoulder, and Glenda, a troubled but spirited woman who takes Luli under her wing. Luli's quick wit, some help from Glenda, the mercurial Eddie, and her colorful daydreams help protect her from the incredibly unpredictable band of characters she encounters on her journey. (from the press materials) Read guest post from Andrea Portes.
Rohan (Rajniesh Duggal), son of one of the nation's foremost business tycoons and supermodel Sanjana (Karisma Kapoor) have been one of the most popular couples in the social circuit. When Rohan gets kidnapped Sanjana discovers something extraordinary. She sees visions of them together – sometime in the past – in different eras. She is confused initially but in her visions lay definitive clues that could lead her to save the love of her life. As she follows clue after clue she gets closer and sometimes further away from the love that has been eluding her through the ages. (from the press material)
Women Directed Films Opening Today
Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish – directed by Eve Annenberg
I can honestly say that I have never seen a movie like this before. The intertwined stories of two young men who have left the Hasidic life and the play Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish. The young men are introduced to Shakespeare — who they have never heard of because they did not learn secular topics or English until recently — by Ava a bitter, non-observant Jew and nurse finishing up a Master's program. As part of her work she has to translate Romeo and Juliet into Yiddish but it is a difficult task since there are not many people who speak Yiddish and English.
Ava meets Lazar and Mendy two young men who have left their Hasidic community and are living in a stolen van and are basically surviving as petty thieves. Through their relationship with Ava and Shakespeare, they are opened up to a world and to new dreams. But they also struggle with reality as they have never been prepared to live in the real world.
I never thought I would see Juliet saying that famous speech "O Romeo, Romeo" in Yiddish, and I never imagined the Capulets and the Montagues as the Lubavitch and Satmars. But it totally works. However, I think it will be hard for people without some basic understanding of religious Jews to enjoy the film. It's very inside baseball, if you know what I mean. But it gets major points for creativity. Film opens in LA today.