There are a number of deeply promising series this week, including one of the most anticipated fantasy adaptations, one of the most accomplished ensembles ever cast, and a new Mindy Kaling comedy. The films this week come from a range of cultures that aren’t often featured in the U.S. They’re made by filmmakers who are Salvadoran-Mexican, Cree-Metis, and Trinidadian, not to mention an Australian Aboriginal revenge western.
November and December introduce a wealth of new projects, and it can be easy to get locked into the ones that see the most marketing and are created by filmmakers with established names. Yet studios rarely invest in marketing films made by women and people of color. That means they don’t invest in establishing their names, which means most of the “awards competitors” that get pushed at us come from a narrow range of perspective.
Many films by women and directors of color will be lucky to see a push for a single nomination in major awards meant to get them on the map. Most will go without the kind of awards marketing blitzes that middling films by men will see much more easily. This means that when it comes to buzz, it’s easy to believe the films that need to be seen this time of year are mostly by white, male directors. It becomes even easier than usual for viewers to completely overlook work that comes from other voices.
Make sure you seek out the work of women and people of color, especially in these months where some of the best films you’ll see in your life get even more buried than is usual.
The Wheel of Time (Amazon)
mostly directed by women
The long, long-awaited adaptation of Robert Jordan’s fantasy novel series finally arrives. “The Wheel of Time” centers on Rosamund Pike’s Moiraine, who gathers five people for an adventurous journey. She believes one of them is the reincarnation of the Dragon, who will either save the world or destroy it.
While the showrunner is Rafe Judkins, at least five of the first season’s eight episodes are directed by women. This includes Uta Briesewitz, Sanaa Hamri, and Salli Richardson. Briesewitz has directed on “Orange is the New Black”, “Stranger Things”, “Jessica Jones”, and “UnREAL”, as well as being the cinematographer for “Hung”. Hamri has helmed on “Shameless” and directed more episodes of “Empire” than any other director. Richardson has directed on “Luke Cage”, “American Gods”, and “Dear White People”.
“The Wheel of Time” premieres today on Amazon with three episodes. The remaining five episodes will drop every Friday.
mostly directed by women
A plane carrying a high school soccer team once crashed into the Ontario wilderness. Not all of the girls on the team made it out alive. Years later, someone is sending them postcards that suggest they know what really happened. It’s up to a small group of survivors to piece it back together.
This is one of the best series casts ever assembled. Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, and Christina Ricci are the big names, but Samantha Hanratty, Keeya King, Sophie Nelisse, and Ella Purnell shouldn’t be overlooked.
While Jonathan Lisco serves as showrunner, the series is mostly directed by women. Eva Sorhaug directs three episodes. She’s also directed episodes of “Witch Hunt”, “American Gods”, and “Your Honor”. “Jennifer’s Body” director Karyn Kusama helms the premiere. Deepa Mehta and Daisy von Scherler Mayer also direct.
“Yellowjackets” premiered its first episode this week on Showtime. You can also watch that first episode for free on YouTube to see if it sparks your interest. New episodes will drop on Showtime every Sunday.
The Sex Lives of College Girls (HBO Max)
co-showrunner Mindy Kaling
Freshman roommates at Evermore College navigate student life in an acidic comedy.
Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble showrun. Kaling is, of course, known as a writer, producer, and lead actress on “The Office” and “The Mindy Project”. (I’d also recommend “Never Have I Ever”, which she co-created, produces, and writes on, but doesn’t star.)
The release schedule for “The Sex Lives of College Girls” can be summed up as multiple episodes dropping on HBO Max every Thursday. Two episodes are available now, with three more on November 25, three more on December 2, and then the final two on December 9. And, you know, be careful if you Google the series.
The Madame Blanc Mysteries (Acorn TV)
showrunner Sally Lindsay
An antiques dealer loses her savings when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. She relocates to France to begin investigating his death.
Sally Lindsay created, writes, and stars in “The Madame Blanc Mysteries”. The former “Coronation Street” actress also conceived of and starred in “Scott & Bailey”.
The first two episodes of “The Madame Blanc Mysteries” premiered on Acorn TV this week, with new episodes dropping every Monday.
Christmas Flow (Netflix)
directed by Nadege Loiseau
In this three-episode French series, a rapper and journalist fall for each other. His music is misogynist and she resents him for that. I don’t know how thoroughly the series will address that premise. Shirine Boutella and Tayc star.
Nadege Loiseau has directed on a few French series, including an episode of crime drama “Profilage”.
You can watch “Christmas Flow” on Netflix.
Hollington Drive (Sundance Now)
directed by Carolina Giammetta
Two sisters investigate the disappearance of a child in this British thriller.
Carolina Giammetta is a British series director who also helmed this year’s “The Drowning”.
All four episodes are available to watch on Sundance Now.
Prayers for the Stolen (Netflix)
directed by Tatiana Huezo
“Prayers for the Stolen” follows the lives of three girls growing up in a town at war. Girls are stolen from the poor town by soldiers, and it’s only a matter of time before one of them is taken.
Tatiana Huezo is one of the most important directors working today. She’s chiefly worked in documentaries before this. Her “Tempestad” investigated the experiences of women who had been trafficked, and won Best Documentary, Director, Cinematography, and Sound at the Ariel Awards (Mexico’s equivalent to our Oscars). “Prayers for the Stolen” is her first dramatic feature.
You can watch “Prayers for the Stolen” on Netflix.
co-directed by Kate McLean
An elderly, off-the-grid pot farmer sees her business dwindle when cannabis is made legal. She considers what to do next as she harvests her final crop.
Kate McLean writes and directs with Mario Furloni. McLean has primarily worked in documentary films up till now.
See where to rent “Freeland”.
The Flood (VOD)
directed by Victoria Wharfe McIntyre
In this anachronistic western, an indigenous Australian wife and husband set out for revenge after they lose their daughter.
This is the first feature from writer-director Victoria Wharfe McIntyre.
You can rent “The Flood” on Redbox.
directed by Maria Sodahl
Andrea Braein Hovig and Stellan Skarsgard star as Anja and Tomas, partners who have grown into their own separate worlds over the years. When she’s diagnosed with cancer, Anja needs Tomas to come back into her world and help support her.
The Norwegian film is written and directed by Maria Sodahl, who got her start in the 90s as a casting director.
See where to rent “Hope”.
Night Raiders (VOD)
directed by Danis Goulet
Blackfoot and Sami actress Elle-Maija Tailfeathers stars as a mother whose daughter is kidnapped by a war-obsessed government. She joins a band of vigilantes to rescue their children.
Danis Goulet is a Cree-Metis filmmaker. This is her debut feature. Goulet has served for several years as the artistic director for imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest indigenous film festival.
See where to rent “Night Raiders”.
She Paradise (VOD)
directed by Maya Cozier
A teenager takes up with a dance crew. She’s not prepared for the world of money and predation that it opens up to her, though.
This is the first feature from writer-director Maya Cozier.
See where to rent “She Paradise”.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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