July brings us heat waves and hyped films, with reboots of big action franchises (“Terminator: Genisys”), projects that are predicted to bring a star on the cusp to full-blown supernova status (Amy Schumer in “Trainwreck”) and dramatic cinematic landscapes that seem poised for award-season buzz (Nicole Kidman in “Strangerland”).
But there are a few quieter films on this month’s horizon, too, as evidenced by the widely varied documentaries that are slated to appear in theaters. “Amy” will examine the life and death of legendary singer Amy Winehouse, while “Twinsters” follows two genetic twins as they meet each other in person for the first time since birth after discovering each other through social media. “Steak (R)evolution” examines the state of the meat industry and its finest offerings, as well as the future of sustainable meat consumption. “The Mama Sherpas” takes a critical eye to western birthing practices and asks what it would look like to embrace a more natural outlook on birth. Finally, “A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile” follows the elaborate hoax behind a Syrian blogger and activist’s supposed kidnapping — and the Canadian lesbian who fell in love with her not knowing “Gay Girl in Damascus” never existed.
There are a few experimental and extremely diverse films slated to arrive this July, starting with “Tangerine,” a film about two transgender sex workers out to exact revenge on a cheating lover. “Stations of the Cross” follows a young girl’s frighteningly slavish devotion to Catholicism, while “Meet Me in Montenegro” tells the tale of two globe-crossed lovers — similar in theme, if not in tone, to “10,000 KM,” another July story centered on the struggle of long-distance relationships.
A few TV stars will grace the big screen this month, including Cobie Smulders in “Unexpected,” a film about a high-school teacher who becomes pregnant at the same time as one of her students. Katherine Heigl makes a surprising resurgence with not one, but two films slated for the summer, starting with the musical romance “Jackie & Ryan” and continuing with the family drama “Jenny’s Wedding,” where her love interest is played by another star best known for her TV work: Alexis Bledel of “Gilmore Girls.” “Lila & Eve” pairs Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez as two grieving mothers bonded together by mutual tragedy.
The rest of July is drama-heavy, filled with interesting subjects and intricately wrought stories. “Phoenix,” “The Kindergarten Teacher,” “Mad Woman,””Catch Me Daddy” and “The Other One” offer intriguing premises of vastly different scopes.
Here are all the women-centric, women-directed and women-written films debuting in July. All descriptions from press materials unless otherwise noted.
Terminator: Genisys – Co-Written by Laeta Kalogridis
When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Now, Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, where he is faced with unlikely allies, including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future.
Jackie & Ryan (Also available on VOD) – Written and Directed by Ami Canaan Mann
“Jackie & Ryan” follows Ryan (Ben Barnes), a modern-day train hopper struggling to be a successful musician with only a backpack and banjo to his name. His dreams are put on hold when he meets Jackie (Katherine Heigl), a former country singer fighting for custody of her daughter. Together, with their passion for music and each other, they form an unlikely relationship which changes their lives forever.
A documentary on the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.
It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown, and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra (Mya Taylor), both transgender prostitutes, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity.
Stations of the Cross – Co-Written by Anna Bruggemann
Told in fourteen fixed-angle, single-shot, individual tableaus that parallel Christ’s journey to his own crucifixion, “Stations of the Cross” is both an indictment of fundamentalist faith and the articulation of an impressionable teen’s struggle to find her own path in life. Though from the outside Maria lives in the modern world, her family and her heart are faithful to a Catholic radicalism that requires sacrifice and devotion at every turn. As she struggles to balance her own desires with the dictates of her family’s faith, she makes ever-more perilous sacrifices, attempting to please a God she worships unquestioningly in the pious hopes of curing the autistic younger brother she adores.
10,000 Km – Co-Written by Clara Roquet
A couple (played by Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer) split between Los Angeles and Barcelona struggles to remain connected as technology threatens to tear them apart.
Strangerland – Directed by Kim Farrant and Co-Written by Fiona Seres
A family finds their dull life in a rural outback town rocked after their two teenage children disappear into the desert, sparking disturbing rumors of their past. Starring Nicole Kidman.
Young and beautiful, Nevada Smith (Kelsey Lynn Stokes) craves to find a place for herself in a family of overachievers. Her mother is running for political office, her father is a successful dentist and her older sister is working overseas. In addition, the family is still grieving the death of a sister who died at a young age. When her mother discovers she has cancer and her father is suddenly sent to prison, Nevada is overwhelmed with the emotional need to comfort her mother.
Meet Me in Montenegro (Also available on VOD) – Co-Written and Co-Directed by Linnea Saasen
In this globe-trotting, funny romance, two ex-lovers, a Norwegian dancer (Linnea Saasen) and an American filmmaker (Alex Holdridge), meet by chance during a visit to Berlin, and their affair is rekindled in spite of the fact that they are both moving to opposite ends of the earth in forty-eight hours.
Trainwreck – Written by Amy Schumer
Since she was a little girl, it’s been drilled into Amy’s (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo — enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment — but in actuality, she’s kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she’s writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.
Catch Me Daddy
Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) is a girl on the run from her family, hiding out in West Yorkshire with her drifter boyfriend Aaron. When her brother arrives in town with a gang of thugs in tow, she is forced to flee for her life and faces her darkest night.
Twinsters (doc) – Co-Directed by Samantha Futerman
This full-length documentary follows sisters Samantha and Anaïs as they meet in person for the very first time. Their unique experiences are documented through a series of video blogs, Skype conversations, and real-time footage. Every intimate moment is captured, from their first meeting, the DNA test results, home visits, to their first visit back to Seoul. The film explores the ideas of family, adoption, nature vs. nurture and the power of social media.
Steak (R)evolution (Doc) – Co-Written by Verane Frediani
Gourmet road trip looking for the best steak in the world. Breeders, farmers, butchers, cooks, historians and business men all around the world (France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Argentina, Brazil) help us understand the (r)evolution taking place right now and the challenges ahead.
Lila and Eve (Also available on VOD)
“Lila and Eve” tells the story of Lila (Viola Davis), a grief-stricken mother who in the aftermath of her son’s murder in a drive-by shooting attends a support group where she meets Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who has lost her daughter. When Lila hits numerous roadblocks from the police in bringing justice for her son’s slaying, Eve urges Lila to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. The two women soon embark on a violent pursuit of justice, as they work to the top of the chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder of Lila’s son.
The Other One
After surviving a horrific school shooting, a teacher (Grace McPhillips) returns to her childhood home to care for her ill mother and find some comfort in her grief. As her mother’s dementia deepens, long, dark secrets tumble out, including a dark family secret that will turn her life upside-down forever.
The Mama Sherpas (Doc) – Directed by Brigid Maher
“The Mama Sherpas” is a feature-length documentary that follows nurse midwives, the doctors they work with, and their patients over the course of two years. The documentary will provide a personal glimpse into what midwives can bring into the birthing process in the hospital system. Through showing rather than telling, “The Mama Sherpas” will demonstrate how easily practices of midwifery could be mainstreamed into current medical practices to improve health care and costs of obstetrics care for all involved.
Unexpected – Directed and Co-Written by Kris Swanberg; Co-Written by Megan Mercier
A 30-year-old Chicago high-school teacher (Cobie Smulders) and one of her students (Gail Bean) both discover they’re pregnant around the same time.
A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile (Doc) – Written and Directed by Sophie Deraspe
When well-known Syrian blogger Amina Arraf — purportedly kidnapped by local authorities during the Arab Spring — was revealed to be an elaborate hoax persona, an entire international community realized it had been catfished. But the betrayal cut deepest for Canadian activist Sandra Bagaria, who had been involved in an online relationship with Amina. Playing out like a detective story, “A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile” reconstructs this astounding tale of global deceit from Sandra’s perspective. As she crosses the globe in search of answers, questioning journalists, activists, and intelligence agencies, she prepares for a face-to-face confrontation with Amina’s creator.
The Outrageous Sophie Tucker (Doc) – Co-Written by Susan Ecker
The rags-to-riches story of Sophie Tucker, an iconic superstar who ruled the worlds of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and Hollywood throughout the 20th century. Before Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bette Midler, Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, Sophie Tucker was the first woman to infatuate her audiences with a bold, bawdy and brassy style unlike any other. Using all of “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” 400-plus recently discovered personal scrapbooks, authors Susan and Lloyd Ecker take you on their seven-year journey retracing Tucker’s sixty-year career in show business.
Jenny’s Wedding – Written and Directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue
When Jenny Farell (Katherine Heigl) decides to marry the love of her life, Kitty (Alexis Bledel), the small, safe world her family has always inhabited changes completely and they are left with a simple but difficult choice — either change with it or drown.
Nelly (Nina Hoss), a disfigured concentration-camp survivor, is unrecognizable after surgery. She searches post-war Berlin for her husband to find out if he betrayed her to the Nazis.
The Kindergarten Teacher
“The Kindergarten Teacher” is the story of a teacher who becomes at first enchanted and then ultimately consumed by the poetic genius of her five-year-old student. As the titular protagonist, Nira (Sarit Larry) discovers that her young student, Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), has an otherworldly talent for language and poetry, she slowly and progressively becomes interested in cultivating the boy’s gift. But when fascination morphs into obsession, Nira pushes the boundaries of her relationship with the boy and his family in an attempt to protect his talent before he passes from boyhood to adolescence, and his purity is lost.