February 09, 2020
In the weeks before the release of Greta Gerwig’s luminous and superbly crafted Little Women, film wonks on social media wondered aloud about its chances: Did the world really need another adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 novel? Would men see the title and think “girl germs”? And when the Golden Globe nominations were announced, in early December, neither Gerwig nor the film, specifically, got one. Good movies are overlooked by awards bodies all the time, but accolades still serve as a kind of advertising to the public. Plenty of people, it seemed, had doubts about Little Women.
Greta Gerwig Didnt Get a Best Director Nod. But the Radical Triumph of Little Women Will Outlive the Oscars
But when the movie opened on Christmas Day, it made a more-than-respectable $16.8 million in its first weekend, holding its own against a new Star Wars picture and a Jumanji sequel: Those movies had bigger box-office returns overall, of course, but they’re also mega-budget behemoths aimed at a mass audience. In the weeks since its release, Little Women has continued to make money, and many of those who have seen the picture feel a fierce affection for it. It’s hard to know how many of those viewers are men, but it’s unlikely that those steadily climbing box-office numbers represent women alone. And there are men who have confessed, on social media and elsewhere, that they sobbed through the whole thing. Somehow Little Women, a relatively quiet movie about family life, with no obvious special effects, is a hit.
Maybe that’s because Gerwig’s film is both respectful and invigorating, a reimagining that reaches out to young people making their way in the world today even as it’s true to the manner in which Alcott herself—a woman writer in a field ruled by men—had to push her way forward. Saoirse Ronan plays the story’s heroine, aspiring writer and all-around firecracker Jo March, the second-oldest daughter in a family of sisters living in Concord, Mass., during the Civil War. Gerwig preserves the book’s essence, though she does take some intelligent liberties, reshuffling elements of the plot and stressing certain beats to heighten the story’s modern relevance. This is the sort of smart, gorgeously detailed movie that the people who dole out awards usually love. But Gerwig’s achievement as a director has been mysteriously overlooked by awards groups; on Jan. 13 she received an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay, but not for direction. It’s as if this thoughtful, confident picture, one that has also struck a chord with audiences, had somehow directed itself.
Gerwig has thus far been gloriously good-natured about the awards oversights, even in a season where she has often appeared publicly to support her colleague and partner, Noah Baumbach, as he promotes the movie he directed this year, Marriage Story. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! after the Golden Globes ceremony (she had attended with Baumbach, whose movie was nominated for Best Motion Picture—Drama, among other awards), she said that as she waited alone in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton for Baumbach to finish doing pre-ceremony press, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association kept approaching her to tell her they’d supported her movie. “They all were like, ‘We voted for you,’ and I was like, ‘Well, you didn’t, because I didn’t get nominated. So, maybe one of you did, but it’s not possible that all of you did.”
Just telling the story makes Gerwig laugh; there’s nothing self-righteous or scolding about her tone. But it’s not hard to tease out a possible subtext behind the whole ridiculous situation. Gerwig may have been thinking, I believed in this movie, I worked hard to make it happen, and I’m proud of it—don’t condescend to me with obvious lies.
She also isn’t alone in the field of women directors who have done great, under-recognized work this year. (Marielle Heller and Céline Sciamma are just two, among numerous others.) But as an experiment, let’s compare her achievements not to those of other women, but to those of other men. In the 1970s, a group of maverick directors radically changed the vibe and texture of Hollywood movies: relatively early in their careers, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas all made inventive and invigorating pictures using big-studio money. The point was to use the entrenched system to shake things up and say something new.
Big-studio movies today have largely gone stale. Not even Scorsese can get a movie made, on his own terms, with major-studio money; the biggest budgets go to comic-book franchises (and we’ve heard how he feels about those). Yet with just one previous directing solo credit to her name—the terrific Lady Bird—Gerwig earned the confidence of a big studio, Columbia, and set out to adapt material that’s been around for a century and a half.
Awards are meaningful because everyone wants and needs to be recognized for good work. They can also help a filmmaker get another movie made, and that could be particularly important for woman directors struggling to pull together their next project. But even if Little Women comes away with nothing, Gerwig will at least have pulled off a movie-brat-style coup. The directors of many of the ’70s pictures we revere today—Scorsese for Mean Streets, De Palma for Carrie, to name just two—got little or no awards attention when they sent these movies out into the world. By the time Scorsese finally won an Oscar for Best Director—in 2007, for The Departed—his career had already been cooking for some 40 years. There’s something to be said for making a vital, daring movie that flies under the radar of the squares who give out the prizes. When that movie is based on a 150-year-old book about a family of women? Now that’s a truly radical act.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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