Number of women directors steady at CFCA Film Festival

The 6th Annual Chicago Film Critics Association Film Festival, taking place from May 4-10 at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago, will present 24 feature films, nine of which are written, directed or based upon a novel by a woman for a respectable 37.5 percent ratio.  Short films, shown in two programs, are also well-represented by women as seven out of 13 films or 54 percent are directed by women.

The curtain will rise on Friday, May 4 featuring Fast Color directed by Julia Hart and co-written by the director and Jordan Horowitz.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in this unusual superhero film with a twist, pushing the envelope of expectations as she discovers her powers and abandons her family. Both Mbatha-Raw and Horowitz are scheduled to attend.

Three of the four very different documentaries are created by women. Abducted in Plain Sight by Skye Borgman, documents the bizarre kidnapping of a young girl by a neighbor…twice. Hal by Amy Scott takes us into the life of the renowned Oscar-winning talent, Hal Ashby he witnesses his contemporaries, Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg, threatening to dethrone him as reigning filmmaker.  And Liyana, by Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp follow five Swaziland children as they retell ancient stories, escaping from the reality surrounding them and preserving traditions.   

Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, a hit from the Sundance Film Festival, takes us into the Pacific Northwest where a father (Ben Foster) and his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) are living off the grid, in the lush temperate rainforest only to be discovered and thrust back into society.  The film delves deeply into societal pressures and responsibilities, relationships and PTSD.

Josephine Decker directs and co-writes with Donna di Novelli the dramatic film Madeline’s Madeline. The film promises to wax and wane poetically while taxing your every sense as we are introduced to the young actress, Madeline (Helenea Howard), who takes her acting skills a bit too far.

Coralie Fargeat writes and directs the horror film Revenge which is also set to be released in May. The film explores the bloody mistakes of a married man who takes his mistress along on his annual guys’ trip.

Hannah Marks and Joey Powers team up to write and direct Shotgun, starring Marisa Tomei and Maika Monroe in this dramedy about how a young couple’s relationship quickly changes after a medical diagnosis.  And finally, Marc Turtletaub has his directorial debut with Puzzle based on a story by Natalia Smirnoff. The film stars Kelly Macdonald in this offbeat drama about a frustrated wife and mother who finds a renewed sense of hope in jigsaw puzzle competitions.  

The representation of women at this festival is approximately the same as we saw at the Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals and while that is progress, the statistics were far closer to a 50-50 split at Tribeca this year. It’s hopeful that we will see this trend continue to increase at all festivals to give women parity in both the director’s chair as well as the scriptwriting seat.  For more information about the festival, go to

© Pamela Powell (4/27/18) FF2 Media

Featured photo: Skye Borgman in Abucted in Plain Sight (2017)

Middle photo: Fast Color (courtesy of  LD EntertainmentOriginal Headquarters)

Bottom photo: Jeremy Allen White and Maika Monroe in Shotgun (2018)

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New York native film critic and film critic Pamela Powell now resides near Chicago, interviewing screenwriters and directors of big blockbusters and independent gems as an Associate for FF2 Media. With a graduate degree from Northwestern in Speech-Language Pathology, she has tailored her writing, observational, and evaluative skills to encompass all aspects of film. With a focus on women in film, Pamela also gravitates toward films that are eye-opening, educational, and entertaining with the hopes of making this world a better place. 
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