'First Run Features' Gives Female Directors the Go

Monday, August 30, 2010

Indie distributor First Run Features gives a big boost to films directed by women in September. Later in the month, viewers of all ages can see a thrilling animated feature about heroic owls, based on Kathryn Lasky's beloved epic fantasy books.

Jennifer Merin(WOMENSENEWS)--Kudos to indie distributor First Run Features for having five superb films directed by women in U.S. theaters during September.

While five may not seem like a lot, it's very rare for a film distributor to have that many fem-helmed films on its annual roster, let along in simultaneous theatrical release. New York-based First Run Features deserves bragging rights and these films deserve our support.

"Altiplano," a drama directed by Jessica Hope Woodward and Peter Brosens, is set in the Peruvian Andes. Mercury leaching from silver mines in the Andes brings illness and death to villagers, who mistakenly blame foreign doctors trying to treat them. Riots break out. In the wake of the violence, two strong women--a Peruvian whose fiance fell victim to environmental poison and the wife of a doctor killed in the riots--become friends and find solace in each other. The storytelling is heightened by haunting folkloric symbolism and magnificent cinematography.

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The other First Run movies are documentaries.

Lucy Walker and Andrew Thompson's "Mugabe and the White African" chronicles the struggle of Mike Campbell, one of few white farmers remaining in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe's violent land grab began in 2000. Campbell fights to keep the homestead that had been in his family for generations and supported 500 black workers. The film was short listed for the 2009 documentaries Oscar and has been playing festivals and single screenings since. First Run gives it a theatrical run.

Racism is also the core subject of Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano's "Neshoba: The Price of Freedom." The film takes us to Mississippi's Neshoba County, where 40 years after the murders of civil rights heroes James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner the state finally indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, the now 80-year-old who masterminded the fatal attacks.

In "Stonewall Uprising," Kate Davis and David Heilbroner document what happened at the Stonewall Inn during the summer of 1969, when gays in New York City's Greenwich Village decided to resist police oppression.

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