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)
Violet Du Feng’s "Hidden Letters" tells the story of Chinese women trying to balance their lives as independent women in modern China while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Connected through their love for Nushu—a centuries-old secret text shared amongst women—each of them transforms through a pivotal period of their lives and takes a step closer to becoming the individuals they know they can be. Hot off her 2022 Tribeca Festival premiere, Director Violet Du Feng, an Emmy-award winning documentarian, spoke to us about Nushu, modern-day China, women’s equality, and her filmmaking process.READ MORE
Signe Baumane’s "My Love Affair With Marriage" is a brilliant animated film for a decidedly adult audience. It’s a semi-autobiographical musical exploration of love, sex, romance, and gender as viewed through the lens of neurochemistry – not your average animated love story! New York Women in Film & Television was proud to present Baumane with a NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant for the film, and even prouder to then see it premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Festival! We sat down with Signe to discuss her wildly inventive, intelligent, and very fun film.READ MORE
Longtime NYWIFT Member Véronique N. Doumbé comes to the 2022 Tribeca Festival as the editor of Carrie Hawks' short film Inner Wound Real, which was supported by Black Public Media. The 15-minute experimental animated short relays the story of three BIPOC folks who self-injure, then find new ways to cope. Doumbé discusses the editing process and what she hopes audiences will take away from this powerful film.READ MORE
Found is a compassionately told story of the girls finding one another, finding their homeland, and finding themselves. Director Amanda Lipitz and Producer Anita Gou spoke with NYWIFT Board Member Christina Kiely about the experience of making the film and the powerful and often unexpected stories that emerged in the process. This is part two of their conversation.READ MORE