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Special Report: Women Directors in January 2014

Special Report: Women Directors in January 2014

While Frozen continues its box-office
dominance (with over $360 million in domestic grosses and a new sing-along version in
theaters), the Mickey Mouse short that accompanies it, “Get a Horse!,” is part of another
successful franchise: Oscar Nominated Short Films, which opened in 105 theaters
last weekend and earned $329,505. This annual release from Shorts HD and
Magnolia Pictures has become a staple of the awards season, with last year’s collection
earning more than $2 million during a seven-week run. This year’s live-action
program includes Selma Vilhunen’s one-note comedy
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? while the documentary slate has
Sara Ishaq’s powerful Karama Has No Walls, about a bloody anti-government protest in Yemen. Lauren MacMullan’s kinetic Get a Horse! recently won an Annie and
is a favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. 

In addition to
the Oscar Nominated Shorts anthology, January saw seven feature films and four
documentaries directed by women arrive in theaters. (None had a wide release.) During
the record-breaking snow and cold of January, Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys opened in New York with a
gross of $5,359. The Argot Pictures release from Jessica Oreck (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo) follows a
reindeer-herding family in frigid Lapland. First Run Features initially opened Maidentrip in Toronto on December 20, so
it does not appear on the Box Office Mojo rankings for January. But Jillian
Schlesinger’s debut documentary about 14-year-old Laura Dekker’s round-the-world sailing voyage has earned $33,067 so far in North America. 

Set in Tbilisi
after the fall of the Soviet Union, In
also focuses on teenage girls. The semi-autobiographical debut film of
Georgian-born Nana Ekvtimishvili (co-directed with husband Simon Gross) is
receiving a gradual release from Big World Pictures and has grossed $22,870
from two theaters. Steph Green’s debut feature Run & Jump, which follows an Irish wife
and mother dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s stroke, is another foreign import. The
American-born Green, who often works in Ireland, was nominated for an Oscar in
2009 for her short film “New Boy,” based on a Roddy Doyle story. IFC Films released Run & Jump on VOD the same day as in theaters, where it has
grossed $6,569.

Gregorini’s psychological thriller The
Truth About Emanuel
premiered in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film
Festival as Emanuel and the Truth About
. Gregorini’s theatrical debut, released by Tribeca Films and Well Go USA
Entertainment on VOD in November 2013, opened in January and has made
$4,404. Another Sundance 2013 film, the 3D indie Charlie Victor Romeo (directed by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels and
Karlyn Michelson) that recreates the black-box recordings of airline disasters,
opened in New York and Los Angeles at the end of January, but the Collective:
Unconscious and 3-Legged Dog Media release has not reported its box-office

Also not reporting
grosses is Band of Sisters, Mary
Fishman’s self-distributed debut documentary, which chronicles the social-justice activism of American nuns following Vatican II reforms in the 1960s.
Annemarie Jacir (Salt of This Sea)
also revisits that era in When I Saw You,
set in a Palestinian refugee camp during 1967. The Match Factory release
follows an 11-year-old boy and his mother who flee to Jordan following the
Arab/Israeli Six-Day War.

Three additional
debut features got small releases in January via Gravitas Ventures, Phase 4
Films and Artists Public Domain, respectively. Maggie Kiley’s Brightest Star (formerly called Light Years) features Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars, Enlisted) as a recent college grad navigating his professional and
personal lives. Anna Paquin (who’s also a producer) stars in writer/director
Shana Betz’s Free Ride, based on her
mother’s life as a marijuana smuggler in Florida during the 1970s. Shannon
Plumb’s filmmaker husband Derek Cianfrance and their sons join her in Towheads, which is about a wife and
mother whose artistic pursuits are stymied by her demanding family. 

grosses and theater numbers for January 2014 are courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

#12 | 2014 Oscar Nominated Short
Films | $329,505 | 105 theaters

#23 | In Bloom | $22,870 | 2

#36 | Run & Jump | $6,569 | 2

#41 | Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic
Cowboys | $5,359 | 1 theater

#43 | The Truth About Emanuel |
$4,404 | 11 theaters

Also: Maidentrip | $33,067 | 5

Serena Donadoni
is a freelance film critic in Detroit. She runs 
The Cinema Girl (with movie
reviews, interviews and more) as well as The Cinema Girl blog, which tracks
movie releases and has a page devoted to women directors. Follow her

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