It could only be her. Carey is… just famously good and she chooses so carefully and she’s really always kept to her own journey in terms of what she picks. She’s very private, which makes quite an enigmatic actress. I really wanted somebody who wasn’t going to come and make her a kick-ass superhero comic book character. I wanted her to be the stillness at the center of it all. She was my dream person. — Emerald Fennell
Film Independent Presents will host a members’ screening of Fennell ’s remarkable debut feature PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, as well as a Q & A with the writer-director joining the film’s star CareyMulligan.
And the American Cinematheque has added an online Q & A as well, which Bo Burnham will join. A free PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN screener link is available now with this event, while supplies last.
For information on all the events, VOD streaming, and Film Independent membership, see the links below.
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS is Eliza Hittman’s third cinéma vérité feature, starring Sidney Flanigan as a young woman from rural Pennsylvania traveling to New York City for an abortion.
The film screened earlier this month at a Film Independent Presents event in Culver City, and is now playing in Hollywood and on the Westside, opening next week in Pasadena.
The spark for my new film came in 2012, when a woman named Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning in a hospital in Galway after being refused a life-saving abortion. Out of devastation, I naively began to research the history of abortion rights in Ireland. In a country where abortion was criminalized, I became fascinated to learn that women who needed abortions were forced to travel from Ireland to England.
I began to read more and more about Ireland’s hidden diaspora and saw a compelling untold narrative about ‘women on the run’ traveling with the unbearable burden of shame. These migratory abortion trails also exist within our own country from rural areas with limited and restrictive access, past state lines and into progressive cities. Through extensive research and interviews over several years I developed this script. After premiering Beach Rats at Sundance in 2017 and following the inauguration of Trump, I felt an urgent need to make this film now. The fate of a woman’s fundamental right to access is at risk. If Roe v. Wade is attacked and abortion made illegal nationwide, how far will we have to travel?
Savita Halappanavar’s death revolutionized Ireland. It unified feminist groups throughout the country and galvanized a movement to reverse the cruel Eighth Amendment that recognizes the life of a mother and a fetus as being equal. They were activated because her identity was not anonymous. She had a name, a face, a warm smile that the country could feel and mourn. The abortion ban was historically repealed last May.
Amidst such a fraught moment in U.S. history, it’s hard not to ask myself how I am doing in my artistic practice can create change. Women’s issues are global issues. By taking a social and political issue and demonstrating its impact on one individual or character, my goal is to find ways to get past our audiences’ defenses against this stigmatized subject and open people up to confronting difficult realities.
As an extension of my body of work, the film balances realism and lyricism, beauty and horror, fear and hope. It is infused with intimacy, discomfort, tension and truth. It will ignite controversy and conversation. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is ultimately a story about resistance and will perhaps even inspire change. — Eliza Hittman
Last night, longtime collaborators Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan joined FilmIndependent artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga at the ArclightHollywood following a screening of GREED, Winterbottom’s new satire.
The film follows the money and the clothes as a London-based mogul builds a fast-fashion empire on the backs of overseas workers, working elaborate (but legal) self-enrichment schemes by stripping his companies of their assets just before filing for bankruptcy. To celebrate (and distract competitors), he hosts an over-the-top party in Greece.
In a filmmaker’s letter, Winterbottom explains GREED’s genesis and what he hopes audiences will take away from the experience:
In 2016, Britain’s most famous and flamboyant retailer—Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop and Topman—was hauled before the House of Commons select committee and quizzed about his business practices. That was the starting point for making GREED.
Retail fashion is a huge industry, which employs tens of millions of workers in low wage economies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam—the vast majority of them women.
The brands are owned by some of the richest men in the world. Stefan Persson, the owner of H&M, is worth about $20 billion; Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, is worth more than $60 billion.
GREED is a fiction, a satire on the world of Sir Richard McCreadie [played by Steve Coogan], a retail fashion tycoon, the “King of the High Street.” His reputation has suffered a blow as one of his brands has gone bankrupt. He has been hauled over the coals by the Select Committee of the House of Commons and they are threatening to take away his Knighthood.
So he decides to throw a lavish, Roman-themed party on the Greek island of Mykonos, and invite his celebrity friends. But it all goes horribly wrong.
One of the attractions, and challenges, of making the film was to show the real connections between the billionaire relaxing on his super yacht in Monaco and the women we filmed with in Sri Lanka, who are being paid $5.30 a day making clothes for international brands, and living in accommodations with no running water. They seem to live in different worlds, but they are in fact intimately connected, as the clothes that these women make have created the wealth of Sir Rich and his real world counterparts.
Ihope our film is funny, and I hope you enjoy it, but I also hope it makes you angry. No matter how ludicrous our fictional world is, it pales in comparison to the real world. When we walk into a high street store we see images of powerful, beautiful people endorsing the brand, or modeling the clothes. We aspire to be like them, and we think of them when we buy the t-shirt or the dress, when really we should be thinking of the women who have made our clothes and the lives they lead. The world doesn’t need to be like this. We can change things. Doubling the wages of women garment workers would hardly make any difference to the price of the clothes in our local store—so why don’t we do something about it? — Michael Winterbottom
After a recent Film Independent Presents screening of AFTER THE WEDDING, Julianne Moore said something that revealed a uniquely generous approach to acting:
What I love about what we do is, regardless of age or experience, we all meet as peers. It doesn’t happen in a lot of professions, but it happens with acting.
In her new drama, the great accomplishment of Moore and two of her remarkable peers—MichelleWilliams and Abby Quinn—is delivering memorable performances in the service of a schematic script about privilege and legacy among the one-percenters.
Moore plays Theresa, a nouveau-riche start-up billionaire ready to cash out. One of the loose ends that needs tying up is Isabel (Williams), an American-in-India who helps run an underserved aid facility for thousands of Calcutta street kids. Theresa would like to donate a very large sum to the program and—just before the Hamptons wedding of her daughter (Quinn)—Theresa summons Isabel to Manhattan for a meeting. Since she’s in town, Isabel also attends the wedding, where she meets Oscar (Billy Crudup), Theresa’s husband.
This comes as a shock to Isabel, since the last time she saw Oscar was twenty years ago, when they were both in their late teens…
AFTER THE WEDDING is Moore’s fourth feature collaboration with her husband, writer and director Bart Freundlich.
After the Wedding, from top: Michelle Williams (left), Billy Crudup, and Julianne Moore; VirPachisia and Williams; Film Independent Artistic Director Jacqueline Lyanga (left), Moore, Abby Quinn, and Bart Freundlich, July 30, 2019, The Landmark cinema, photograph by Araya Diaz, courtesy of Getty Images and Film Independent; Williams and Moore; Quinn and Williams; Williams. Film images courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
In the 1960s, Hydra was a seemingly magical refuge from the world, a bubble that kept you safe as long as you stayed inside it. But for many who left the Grecian island and returned to what was then referred to as the “rat race,” life away from their sanctuary proved dangerous, and there were many casualties along the way.
Leonard Cohen met an early, essential inspiration for his life’s work on Hydra—Marianne Ihlen, a Norwegian woman who was visiting Greece with her husband and son. This is where MARIANNE & LEONARD—WORDS OF LOVE—the fascinating new documentary by NickBroomfield—begins. Cohen’s obsessive self-involvement provided its own buttress against straight society:
“A large part of my life was escaping, whatever it was… It was a selfish life, but at the time it felt like survival.”
It was left to Marianne to take what Broomfield—during his Film IndependentPresents post-screening interview with artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga—called the “oddly unflattering” role of muse. MARIANNE & LEONARD brings us the lifelong entanglements, the separations and reunions, the breakdowns and break-ups, the round-the-clock use of speed, wine, LSD, and other substances (“They used to call me Captain Mandrax,” explains Cohen in the film, citing the Quaalude-like drug he used to combat paralyzing stage fright)—all told through the eyes and hindsight of a man, Broomfield, who was also on Hydra in the ’60s and also fell in love with Marianne.
The film ends with Cohen reciting the last lines of his poem “Days of Kindness”:
“… What I loved in my old life I haven’t forgotten It lives in my spine Marianne and the child The days of kindness It rises in my spine and it manifests as tears I pray that loving memory exists for them too the precious ones I overthrew for an education in the world.”
Ihlen and Cohen died less than four months apart. And in the end he did give her what she wanted most, sending her a last message on her death bed: “See you down the road my friend. Endless love and gratitude, your Leonard.”
Black and white photographs: Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen in Marianne & Leonard—Words of Love (2), courtesy and Nick Broomfield and Roadside Attractions. Color photographs: Broomfield (2) and Jacqueline Lyanga at the Film Independent Presents special screening of Marianne &Leonard at the Arclight Hollywood on July 2, 2019. Photograph by Araya Diaz/Getty Images.