Apple TV+ features diverse work from women

Apple TV+ launches Nov. 1, featuring a diverse lineup of content from female directors. The first all-original video subscription service will be available on the Apple TV app in more than 100 countries at the price of $4.99 per month. 

“With Apple TV+, we are presenting all-original stories from the best, brightest and most creative minds, and we know viewers will find their new favorite show or movie on our service,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “Each Apple TV+ original offers its own unique story, fresh perspective and powerful message — all meant to entertain, connect and inspire cultural conversations.”

Original content created by Apple TV+ for this launch are fortunately gender-balanced. Of 15 announced films and series, eight will feature female writers and directors. Though detailed information has not yet been released on all titles, almost all of the content has women credited as executive producers. 

Original films include documentary The Elephant Queen, following a herd of elephants in their delicate Africa habitat. “[Directors] Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble create a loving and emotional story of the life of animals,” FF2 Media Contributing Editor Katusha Jin wrote in her review. “The cinematography is astounding, and the editing by stone and David Dickie perfectly curates the images to the narrative.” Narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Elephant Queen portrays the African savannah elephant – one of the few species that lives in a matriarchal society. 

Sundance favorite Hala will hit the service Nov. 22 after making its way through the festival circuit as a heralded spiritual follow-up to Lady Bird. Written and directed by Minhal Baig (1 Night), the film follows a Muslim daughter of immigrants navigating her teen years. 

“This beautiful film is as much about family as it is about coming of age and finding your place, as Hala grows to see her parental dynamic in a different light. [Lead actress] Geraldine Viswanathan acts like a real teenager, not a melodramatic caricature of one,” according to our FF2 Media review. “Her parents (Purbi Joshi and Azad Khan) are similarly realistic, drawing boundaries and expectations for their daughter without being stereotypically overbearing.”

This moving and memorable feature from a promising writer-director is likely the most prestigious original to be featured on Apple TV+ in its opening months. 

Minhal Baig (1 Night) directs Hala in Chicago. Photo Courtesy: Apple

George Nolfi’s feature The Banker will follow Samuel L. Jackson as one of the nation’s first African-American bankers. The film from credited screenwriter Niceole R. Levy (Shades of Blue) will drop Dec. 6 on Apple TV+.

On the television side, Mimi Leder-directed The Morning Show is the most impressively female-driven new offering from Apple. Executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston star as morning news reporters facing a new dynamic in their network TV workplace following a scandal. The official trailer for the series dropped on YouTube August 19 and has more than 24 million views. 

The pilot, finale and several episodes in between are directed by the prolific Leder (On the Basis of Sex, Pay It Forward, ER, Shameless). Feature film directors Roxann Dawson and Lynn Shelton direct hours of The Morning Show, available to stream Nov. 1.

Sword of Trust, Outside In and Laggies director Shelton also helmed an episode of Dickinson, a half-hour comedy series starring Hailee Steinfeld as the famed titular poet. According to Apple, the 10-episode show is “a coming-of-age story that finds Emily to be the unexpected hero for our millennial generation,” despite being set in the 19th century. Created and written by The Affair and The Newsroom staff writer Alena Smith, Dickinson is also available to stream on launch day.

The 10-part series Truth Be Told boasts a female showrunner Nichelle D. Tramble (The Good Wife, Justified) and executive producers Witherspoon and series star Octavia Spencer. Adapted from the novel by Kathleen Barber, the drama follows a crime podcaster played by Spencer who must reopen the murder case that drew national attention, forcing her to come “face-to-face with the man she may have mistakenly helped to put behind bars,” according to Apple. Though it won’t drop until December 6, the show features an impeccable cast including Aaron Paul, Lizzy Caplan, Ron Cephas Jones and Elizabeth Perkins. Featured episodes are directed by Minkie Spiro and Sarah Pia Anderson, who has directed more than 60 hours of television. 

 Though it does not have a release date, Apple announced that series Little Voice “explores the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s.” Sara Bareilles provides original music for the series, produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Several episodes are written and directed by Jessie Nelson, screenwriter of Stepmom and Because I Said So and director of I Am Sam and Love The Coopers. Other directors include Emma Westenberg and Cherien Dabis. 

© Georgiana E. Presecky (10/27/2019) FF2 Media

The Morning Show stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. A majority of episodes are written and directed by women. Photo Courtesy: Apple
Tags: Apple TV+, Hala, The Elephant Queen, The Morning Show

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