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.
This award-winning series by Donald Glover is about a Princeton drop-out who returns home and tries to manage his cousin’s burgeoning rap career while marginally helping his on-and off-again girlfriend Van with their toddler. But that’s just the premise. The show’s magic (figuratively and literally) lies in the low-key ensemble cast that Glover has curated. Just watch Brian Tyree Henry embody the complicated cousin Alfred aka Paper Boi, a rapper unsure of his new-found celebrity. The New York Times says “Atlanta is one of the best cast and most brightly acted shows of any kind on TV.”
I recently attended a Q&A where Glover described the show as “Twin Peaks for rappers,” and I’d say that’s pretty apt. Just spend some time in the location itself where Country meets City meets Black Hollywood meets the Bible Belt. The half-hour comedy is as funny as it is weird, and Glover is proud of the weirdness.
Auben Wise as Jayde (left) and Zazie Beetz as Van (right) in Atlanta for FX (2016)
The entire series is binge-worthy, but for the purpose of #SummerHours, the episode to watch is “Value” written by Stefani Robinson. As the AV Club observes, “It makes such a huge difference to know that someone with insights about how black women communicate contributed to an episode that mostly consists of black women communicating and mis-communicating.” “Value” takes a break from the main narrative with the guys and settles in with Van reuniting with an old friend from college. The eight-minute dinner exchange between the two women is gripping – there’s a class thing at play here as well as gender politics. And the whole scene drips with the authenticity of two friends “who love each other but don’t really like each other.”
Atlanta will be available to stream on Hulu ahead of its second season premiere in 2018.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)
Cynthia Lowen’s latest documentary "Battleground" offers an eye-opening window into the anti-choice movement, featuring three women from varying walks of life who have dedicated themselves to rendering abortion illegal. Per the Tribeca website: “Told with restraint and balance, director Cynthia Lowen seeks to clarify rather than condemn, and presents a new point of entry for this challenging topic.” While the film itself clearly aligns with progressive pro-choice advocates (who also appear throughout) it offers a fascinating perspective on the sheer systemic power of the anti-abortion movement and the perilous future, felt painfully today, of Roe v. Wade. "Battleground" was Executive Produced by NYWIFT member Ruth Ann Harnisch and co-produced by member Steffie van Rhee, who sat down with us to discuss the premiere and how this film – from this particular perspective – came to fruition.READ MORE
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
We kick off our Tribeca coverage with a conversation with Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and VP of Programming! Cara previews exciting changes to this year's festival - including a new name! - as well as some special appearances and events.READ MORE
NYWIFT and USA Local 829 member Naomi Wolff Lachter has designed the costumes for feature films, dozens of plays and musicals, and assistant designed on several major TV series. Every day she is on the job, Naomi posts a motivational saying from her whiteboard on her Instagram account, @wolffie78. She offered us insight into her philosophy – and why good vibes are contagious.READ MORE