Goodbye, winter caps—hello, summer hats! It’s that glorious time of year where many of us can switch from content creators to content consumers. NYWIFT members Mellini Kantayya and Kathryn O’Kane have put together #SummerHours, a series of fun summer books, movies, and TV shows by or about women.
Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None has enjoyed high critical praise for its first two seasons. It’s a show about Dev, played by Ansari, a New York-based actor struggling with his career and relationships. Most 20-somethings wrestle with identity – ‘who am I and what do I want to do with my life?’ and Master of None weaves funny stories of dating, job hunting, and life in NYC with the added pressure of being a first-generation American. Dev’s journey is sometimes compounded by the weight of his immigrant family’s expectations to maintain his Indian culture. Loveable and funny, Dev’s friendship circle helps him find the balance.
In Season 2, the one to watch is “Thanksgiving” directed by Melina Matsoukas and co-written by Lena Waithe, who does double duty as both the writer and star of this episode playing Dev’s best friend Denise. This is Denise’s coming out story (which is largely autobiographical) told over the course of many Thanksgiving dinners that Dev spends with her family. Beginning with Denise as a young girl before she is fully out to herself, one holiday after the other marks the passage of time and gives the episode its structure.
Angela Bassett as Catherine (left) and Lena Waithe as Denise (right) in Master of None for Netflix (2017)
We should all bow down to Angela Bassett, who plays Denise’s mother and family matriarch, blind to her daughter’s queer identity. Bassett’s performance is magnificently layered – it’s clear that she loves her daughter, but she’s not asking questions that she doesn’t want to know the answers to. When Denise finally comes out to her, Bassett plays the reaction with such honesty that the mother-daughter relationship feels genuine and real. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Waithe describes Bassett’s influence: “The coming-out scene, and the whole episode, wouldn’t be what it was if she wasn’t across from me, giving all of herself and being vulnerable in that way.”
Nobody tells you that your 20s are going to be as hard as they are, but they can also pretty great.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)
Welcome to NYWIFT, Eileen Wolter! After working as a motion picture lit assistant at CAA, working on the Universal lot, and writing lots of coverage in LA, Eileen brings her creativity to us in New York! She holds a BA in Art History & Film from Vassar College, studied acting as The Atlantic Theater Company and The Actors Studio/The New School, and studied writing at UCLA, NYU, Sundance Collab, Stowe Story Labs, and NJ Play Lab. Eileen tells us about her fascinating family history, covering Fashion Week for Comedy Central in 1993, and attending SNL dress rehearsals.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Luchina Fisher’s powerful new film The Dads features fathers tackling tough, complex issues of parenthood, masculinity, and more – learning to love and support their children the best they can. On a fishing trip with Matthew Shepard's father, five disparate dads discuss their love, hopes and fears for their trans kids in this short documentary. The film is screening now at DOC NYC, where is was named to the festival’s influential awards short list. We spoke to director and producer Luchina Fisher about her personal connection to the dads, her exciting Netflix opportunity, and the film’s superstar supporter.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Rose Vincelli Gustine! Rose Vincelli Gustine is Director of Operations and on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) MFA Social Documentary Film program. She is currently producing the feature documentary The Sum of Our Parts and was consulting producer for Busy Inside (PBS America Reframed, 2020). She directed the documentary short What We Discover Along the Way, which is looking ahead to 2024 festivals. Rose was a programmer for filmmakers’ support organization IFP (now called The Gotham) and for AFIDocs Festival. She lives, cooks, and walks in Brooklyn with her family and cats. Rose spoke to us about what it means to be a filmmaker advocate, her own creative practice, and what she loves about the art of documentary filmmaking.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT Pallavi Bakshi! Following an incredible career in investment banking and equity research, Pallavi Bakshi is now part of Disney Streaming’s Strategic Finance team. Any given day might include reporting to executives, preparing data sets or market research. She has worked on projects for iconic brands in the Disney portfolio, including Marvel and Pixar. Pallavi shares more about her dynamic days here!READ MORE