As part of the Tel Aviv Polish Institute and the Polish Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s “Polish Zoom” film festival this month and next, Wanda Jakubowska’s The Last Stage (1947) is screening in Israel Sunday night seventy years after it debuted there, according to Haaretz. It is the first feature-length picture about the Holocaust, shot on location at Auschwitz, and the filmmaker, scriptwriter, and many cast members – all women – were camp survivors. As ahead of its time as the movie is with its intersectional feminism, though, it is still a Stalinist propaganda piece, sanitizing the Soviet war criminals into warriors of liberation.
Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers (2019) joins Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012), Gregory Jacobs’s Magic Mike XXL (2015), as well as Gene Graham’s This One’s for the Ladies (2019) in its empathetic representation of the camaraderie between strippers, according to The Atlantic. This marks a progression from the likes of Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance (1983), which isolates star Jennifer Beales from her fellow dancers, or Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls (1995), wherein Elizabeth Berkley’s unlikable protagonist sabotages her relationships with other strippers. Hustlers castmate and consultant Jacq the Stripper tells Variety the film’s nuanced treatment of her community is because of their inclusiveness toward her.
With the advent of streaming platforms from media corporations looking to compete against Netflix, Syracuse University television, radio, and film professors say their freshmen are entering the entertainment industry at a lucrative time, according to student newspaper The Daily Orange. Department chair Michael Schoonmaker says this is a “Golden Age of Entertainment” for traditional movies and television as well. Even though film majors are stereotypically faced with skepticism, especially because anyone who owns a camera phone can become a filmmaker now, original content is in demand from undiscovered, young artists, as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime, and CBS flood their collections.
Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy (2019), based off the Robert Harris novel of the same name, garnered the second-place prize Saturday at the Venice Film Festival, according to France 24. In it, Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin) clandestinely reinvestigates evidence that proves Captain Alfred Dreyfus (Louis Garrel) is innocent of the treasonous accusations against him, only for the anti-Semitic Third French Republic to suppress it in the 1890s. Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian Jewish journalist corresponding in Paris at the time for an Austrian newspaper, would go on to become the father of Zionism as we know it today because of the Dreyfus Affair, leading to the founding of Israel in 1948.
Dakota Fanning took to Instagram Wednesday to respond to the controversy surrounding her part as a Muslim woman in Ethiopia in Zeresenay Berhane Mehari’s Sweetness in the Belly (2019), according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The twenty-five-year-old actress says her character is British, abandoned by her parents in Africa at seven years old and raised Muslim; the film, based on a book by Camilla Gibb, will debut at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival later this month. Twitter’s reaction to the casting is still divided, with some defending the faithfulness to the source material and others criticizing the whiteness of the protagonist.
With the United States and the Taliban negotiating to end their eighteen-year conflict, archivists at Afghan Film, the nationalized filmmaking company, are conserving and digitizing reels not yet destroyed or decayed since the civil war began in 1992, according to The Washington Post. After taking over Kabul in 1996, the Islamic militants, enforcing the strictest interpretations of religious modesty, banned music and motion pictures to keep women’s faces from appearing onscreen with uncovered hair, lusting for a leading man. Actor Mamnoon Maqsoodi says Afghanistan cherishes movies because they function as a coping mechanism in a rich culture devastated by decades of war.
The University of Southern California Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative, in partnership with the National Partnership of Latino Independent Producers, has found that only three percent of the leads in the top hundred grossing films from 2007 to 2018 are Latino, according to TheWrap. Even further, four-and-a-half percent of all speaking characters are Latino, despite the ethnic group being the largest in the United States, and these roles are commonly relegated to such stereotypes as poor, isolated criminals. Of greater than a thousand top-grossing movies from 2007 to 2018, only four percent of the American directors are Latino (one out of thirteen hundred is Latina), and just three percent of the producers are Latinx.