It’s an interesting week for high-concept series and movies. One of the benefits of writing this is that every week I pick out things I want to see that aren’t advertised very widely. I’d have never heard of them if I weren’t doing this article because series and especially films by women do not get the kind of marketing or awards consideration of films by men.
Earlier this week, I wrote a two part series on “The Films the Oscars Forgot”. While I’m happy that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won and I think the Oscars chose the right film, the wider nominations as a whole leave a lot to be desired. I am a broken record with these stats, but: only four of the last 65 Best Director nominees have been women including zero this year; only one of 10 films up for Best Picture this year was directed by a woman; out of 18 nominees in the two writing categories only two were women; only the third woman was nominated in cinematography in nearly 100 years; and only 20% of Best Editing nominees are women. This dismissal of their work does not reflect the actual output or contribution women filmmakers are making.
If you read me regularly, you’ve probably got sick of me writing this. The one thing I will promise is that you will read me write versions of it so many more times because it is a clear representation of the garbage treatment and double-standards women filmmakers have to endure. That our scope of nominating the best is so narrow is an ethical and artistic failure. It would be a waste of my time as a critic and a waste of yours as a viewer and reader to pretend only half of what’s being made exists. It would be a failure to pretend the newest and most unrepresented perspectives were somehow less worth our time when they’re doing the most to expand what storytelling on screen can be.
If you’re looking for exceptional films that didn’t get the attention they deserved last year, read Part 1 and Part 2 of “The Films the Oscars Forgot”. Seven of the 10 choices are films directed by women. Weekly entries in “New Shows + Movies by Women” go back three years now, and 100% of these selections are showrun or directed by women. I’m not going to pretend this all fixes anything, but hopefully it makes a contribution, hopefully it helps you find things that you love that you might not have known about otherwise. That’s been my own experience researching and writing this feature. It has completely changed and expanded the range of series and films I watch, and made me fall in love with storytelling on film even more than I imagined I could.
New series by women this week come from Australia and the U.S., while new films by women come from Austria, Australia, and the U.S.
Swarm (Amazon Prime)
showrunner Janine Nabers
A young woman becomes obsessed with a pop star. Her path toward the singer involves murder and narrow escapes.
Showrunner Janine Nabers created the show with Donald Glover. Nabers wrote on “UnReal”, produced on “Watchmen”, and wrote and produced on “Atlanta”.
There are a couple names to know on the writers’ staff, including Karen Joseph Adcock, who’s quickly built a phenomenal resume with scripts on “Atlanta”, “The Bear”, and “Yellowjackets”. “Swarm” also sees Malia Obama in her first writers room.
You can watch “Swarm” on Amazon Prime. All 7 episodes are out tomorrow, March 17.
Class of ’07 (Amazon Prime)
showrunner Kacie Anning
Emily Browning stars as Zoe, who attends a class reunion right as an apocalyptic tidal wave turns her high school campus into an island peak. The women left may be one of the few surviving bastions of humanity.
The Australian series is created, written, directed, and showrun by Kacie Anning. The best I can determine, I think the writers room is all women as well.
Anning is an up-and-coming Australian TV director and producer.
You can watch “Class of ’07” on Amazon Prime. All 8 episodes are out tomorrow, March 17.
directed by Magdalena Lauritsch
Earth is covered in a toxic fog. The crew of a self-sufficient space station debates whether to risk going back to the surface to save 300 survivors, or to remain safe where they are.
The English-language Austrian film is directed and co-written by Magdalena Lauritsch. It’s her first time helming a feature. She’s worked more than a decade on camera crews and as a cinematographer.
You can watch “Rubikon” on Hulu starting tomorrow, March 17.
The Magician’s Elephant (Netflix)
directed by Wendy Rogers
An orphan encounters a fortune teller, who informs him he’ll find his lost sister with the help of an elephant. To get the elephant, he must complete a list of impossible tasks.
The film is based on the Kate DiCamillo novel. DiCamillo is a two time Newberry Medal winner for “The Tale of Despereaux” and “Flora & Ulysses”. She also wrote “Because of Winn-Dixie”.
Director Wendy Rogers comes from a visual effects background, with some of her earliest work coming on “Natural Born Killers” and “The Frighteners”. As CGI animation became popular, she shifted into effects supervisor roles on films like “Flushed Away” and “Puss in Boots”. This is her first film as director.
You can watch “The Magician’s Elephant” on Netflix starting tomorrow, March 17.
American Cherry (VOD)
directed by Marcella Cytrynowicz
This psychological thriller follows a young man who becomes increasingly violent as he films a documentary about his life.
Writer-director Marcella Cytrynowicz comes from a music video direction background. She’s directed and edited MVs for Snoop Dogg and Valentina.
“American Cherry” can be rented on multiple platforms starting tomorrow, March 17.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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