Closing in on October means an influx of indie horror films. It also means the very beginning of a ramp-up toward awards contenders. Beyond this, it’s interesting to see what’s getting brought in from other countries. The pandemic meant a slowdown in production, and a more deliberate pace as things get back underway. In the effort to keep the rate of new series and movies steady, streaming services have increasingly brought in projects that they might not have just a few years ago.
Netflix has been particularly good when it comes to a few countries – their curation of Filipino, Nigerian, and South Korean projects didn’t start with the pandemic, but the slowdown seems to have made them a greater priority. In addition, Amazon and Netflix have invested in India’s filmmaking industry. A number of women writers and directors have been empowered by this, as India’s sometimes misogynistic production structures and laws mean half the talent is often skipped over. I wrote last month about new Indian laws and ‘enforcements’ that are attempting to crack down on and silence women filmmakers in the wake of streaming services picking up their projects.
This week is mostly English-language projects, and there are some good ones, but please don’t skip over what comes out of other countries. When I started this weekly feature, I thought about shoving anything with subtitles to the back of every list, knowing that some readers might skip over these. I decided not to because it shouldn’t be that way. Acting as if the projects from women in the U.S. and U.K. matter more than women from other countries would just be kicking the can down the road on misogyny, and my generation has seen how dangerous that is as we come across every issue those before us declined to handle. Why repeat that? Look at non-English projects. The less of these you’ve watched, the more great work is out there just waiting for you to see it. If you feel like shows are redundant and repeating, and all you watch is English-language projects, then the explanation should be obvious – you’re only seeing things from a narrow range of perspectives. Of course they’ll repeat.
There are shows from France, Japan, and Nigeria this week. Take a look at them. Consider the list of Indian shows and movies by women from last month – if there’s enough of an audience for them, streaming services will be more likely to buck India’s crackdown on women filmmakers and continue to fund their work. Streaming services organize films from other countries pretty well. Choose a place you’ve never seen a film from, and pick what looks interesting. Watching shows and movies doesn’t become repetitive if the places you’re picking from aren’t repetitive.
Y: The Last Man (Hulu)
showrunner Eliza Clark
directed by women
Based on the comic book series, “Y: The Last Man” posits a world where every mammal with a Y chromosome suddenly dies…with the exception of a single artist. This is Yorick, and he is chased by those wanting to protect him, experiment on him, and kill him.
Both the original comic and the series base this on chromosomes – so trans women with a Y chromosome and women with androgen insensitivity are part of this. Showrunner Eliza Clark has been specific in saying what sets Yorick apart isn’t his maleness, as other men also survive. What sets him apart is simply that Y chromosome. There are updates that need to be made to the comic series – it started 20 years ago, and cultural and scientific knowledge has improved since then. The series looks promising in terms of including trans creative talent, with actor Elliot Fletcher in a role, and Hugo Award-winning writer Charlie Jane Anders in the writers room.
Showrunner Eliza Clark is a playwright and actress. All the directors on the show are women.
You can watch “Y: The Last Man” on Hulu, with new episodes weekly.
The Heike Story (Funimation)
directed by Naoko Yamada
Biwa is a blind girl with the ability to see the future. She travels as a musician to make her living. When she meets the patriarch of a powerful clan, she offers him a prophecy of bloodshed and war. The series is based on a 13th century epic about the rise and fall of the Taira clan.
Director Naoko Yamada has directed series including “K-on!” and films such as “A Silent Voice”.
You can watch “The Heike Story” on Funimation, with new episodes weekly.
Smart Money Woman (Netflix)
directed by Bunmi Ajakaiye
Zuri is living a life she can’t afford. Her four best friends each have their own problems, but they’re able to help her figure out her life step by step.
“Smart Money Woman” comes from Nigeria and is directed by Bunmi Ajakaiye. She’s a well known photographer, writer, and director who’s helmed two films and now her second series.
You can watch “Smart Money Woman” on Netflix.
Cheyenne & Lola (Sundance Now)
showrunner Virginie Brac
Lola murders the wife of the man she’s sleeping with. Ex-convict Cheyenne witnesses it, and believes she’ll be the one blamed. The two pair up to hide the crime. The series is subtitled; there just isn’t a subtitled trailer available.
Creator, showrunner, and writer Virginie Brac is a prolific French TV writer.
You can watch “Cheyenne & Lola” on Sundance Now.
CW: sexual assault
What She Said (VOD)
directed by Amy Northup
Sam decides she’s going to drop the charges against her rapist. Her friends and siblings stage an intervention at Thanksgiving.
This is the first film from director Amy Northup, an intimacy coordinator who runs classes on consent practices for filmmakers. On her website, Northup discusses, “the same way that we have prioritized the safety of our teams in violent scenes with stunt choreographers, it’s time to normalize the safety, boundaries, and consent of everyone involved in the making of intimate scenes”.
See where to rent “What She Said”.
CW: involuntary commitment
The Mad Women’s Ball (Amazon)
directed by Melanie Laurent
A woman is forcibly institutionalized in a Paris asylum. She plans her escape with the aid of an employee there.
Director, co-writer, and star Melanie Laurent is probably most familiar to U.S. audiences as the vengeful survivor Shosanna in “Inglourious Basterds”. She’s had an extensive career acting in both French and U.S. film. “The Mad Women’s Ball” is her fifth film as director.
You can watch “The Mad Women’s Ball” (listed as “Le Bal des Folles”) on Amazon.
Best Sellers (VOD)
directed by Lina Roessler
Aubrey Plaza and Michael Caine star as a young publisher and the author she coaxes out of retirement. The polar opposites invite disaster as they mount a publicity tour for a man who resents the public. Cary Elwes also stars.
This is director Lina Roessler’s first feature. As an actress, she’s starred in “Lost Girl” and Canadian staple “Murdoch Mysteries” (aka “The Artful Detective”).
See where to rent “Best Sellers”.
CW: stalking, suicide
directed by Sarah Pirozek
Rosie discovers the man who bullied and harassed her sister into suicide a year earlier is still seeking new victims online. She decides to take revenge into her own hands.
This is the first narrative feature from writer-director Sarah Pirozek.
You can watch “#Like” on Shudder.
Giddy Stratospheres (VOD)
directed by Laura Jean Marsh
Life happens chaotically in the UK indie music scene of the 2000s.
This is the first feature for writer-director Laura Jean Marsh, who also stars in the film.
See where to rent “Giddy Stratospheres”.
Bad Candy (VOD)
co-directed by Desiree Connell
A range of local urban legends are recounted by two Radio DJs on Halloween in a campy horror film.
Desiree Connell directs with Scott B. Hansen. This is her first film as director.
See where to rent “Bad Candy”.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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