A still from Sharp Stick by Lena Dunham, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Sharp Stick

In Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” she wasn’t afraid to go there by pushing taboos of sexuality for women onscreen. It was liberating to watch. In “Sharp Stick,” it’s no different. We follow Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) who is coming of age in her sexuality at the age of 26. She has been self conscious about her body because of a hysterectomy she had when she was young that left a scar on the lower side of her stomach. Spurred on by a conversation with her sister (Taylour Paige of “Zola”), and her mother, (Jennifer Jason Leigh) about love, she finds herself attracted to the father (Jon Bernthal) of the child she aids as a caregiver. Once she begins an affair with him, it lights a fire under her to pursue her sexual conquests. During the process she is able to fully embrace her sexuality, and Froseth’s performance makes it a joy to watch. – Rebecca Martin, Managing Editor

A still from Mija by Isabel Castro, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Isabel Castro.


What does freedom mean to you? In Isabel Castro’s documentary, “Mija,” Doris Muñoz poetically says that freedom means having the ability to follow your dreams. Doris’ dream is to help Latinx people rise in the music industry, and also assist her parents in getting their green cards so they can also achieve their desires. We follow Doris at the height of her success, and then when her success is taken away, she must reevaluate her direction. Doris finds a future in Jacks Haupt, a young singer, by supporting her future. The two come together and help each other realize that their dreams are possible. This is a deeply moving ode to the vitality of family.- Rebecca Martin, Managing Editor

Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power

“Perception is not whimsical, but fatal.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seasoned filmmaker Nina Menkes takes us through a topic that is close to her heart, and shows us the subliminal messaging of how women are objectified onscreen. She shows how this has been going on since the beginning of Hollywood, which has led to employment discrimination and sexual assaults in the industry from people like Harvey Weinstein. Menkes walks us through clips of highly regarded films to demonstrate how the lighting is on a female character and the pan of her body says a lot of what our culture thinks about women. What triggered Menkes’ pursuit to study and teach on this topic was how this onscreen objectifying of women made her look at herself in a negative light. Although I don’t know if I 100% agree with Menkes’ theories, I do feel there is a need for stronger female characters, and better representation onscreen and behind the camera. This includes the principle that sex onscreen should also include the woman’s POV, and not just the male gaze. – Rebecca Martin, Managing Editor

Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver appear in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Call Jane

It’s a crime that I did not know about “The Janes”, especially since I’m from Chicago. “Carol” screenwriter Phyllis Nagy’s directorial effort “Call Jane” shows the power of women helping women. The film takes place during the unrest in Chicago during the 1960s, previous to Roe vs. Wade. The Janes are an underground organization and movement that helped women get abortions since it was illegal at the time. We see their story through the eyes of Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a suburban housewife who learns she probably will die if she does not get an abortion. The doctors will not help, and this leads her to The Janes. From that point on, her life will never be the same. And it’s worth noting that the ensemble showcases great performances from Sigourney Weaver, Kate Mara and Wunmi Mosaku. – Rebecca Martin, Managing Editor

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