Film Bitch History
Oscar History

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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Entries in film debuts (18)


Cannes: Female directors making waves...

by Nathaniel R

Leyna Bloom at Cannes

Cannes buzz never ends. So after the jump let's talk about how a handful of new films directed by women have been received including but not limited to Un Certain Regard titles like the trans drama Port Authority, and two very buzz competition titles (Atlantique and Portrait of a Lady on Fire) that sound like Palme contenders. Exciting times ahead...


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25th Anniversary: Danny Boyle's "Shallow Grave"

by Anna

Twenty-five years, a new British filmmaker made a dark splash at Cannes. Danny Boyle’s directorial debut Shallow Grave, which would become a significant sleeper success in 1995, opens with flatmates David (Christopher Eccleston), Juliet (Kerry Fox) and Alex (Ewan McGregor) looking for a new boarder (and subsequently trolling the prospective candidates). They settle on Hugo (Keith Allen) but he dies from a drug overdose within hours of moving in. Then the trio  find a suitcase full of money under Hugo’s bed, and that’s where the plot (and the meaning behind the film’s title) really kicks off.

Roughly a decade of award-winning films from the likes of Stephen Frears and David Attenborough, Boyle came and turned British cinema as a whole on its ear...

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SXSW: Elle Fanning has "Teen Spirit"

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from SXSW

It feels like every other movie these days is directed by a famous actor. There are a handful of them at SXSW this year, including Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart (reviewed) and Logan Marshall-Green’s Adopt a Highway starring Ethan Hawke. Both of those make sense given the type of films those actors have starred in, which match up decently with what they have made behind the camera. Max Minghella’s Teen Spirit, on the other hand, is a less expected debut.

Minghella is probably most recognizable from his starring role as the kindhearted Nick on The Handmaid’s Tale, and he also had a memorable part in The Social Network, among other things. His father was the late Oscar-winning Anthony Minghella (The English Patient). That piece of trivia makes the subject of Max’s first film even stranger since it doesn’t track with that kind of serious prestigious filmmaking either...

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Oscar's Foreign Race Pt 4 - Debuting Filmmakers

Previously: All 87 foreign language film contenders, all the trailers we could find (we're missing just two) along with screening information, and the 20 female directors submitted.  Okay, part four now...


First time's the charm. 26 of the 87 films Oscar-submitted by their home country are for directors making their debut. That's an extraordinary honor if you stop to think about it! Would you like to meet them? That's rhetorical as I'll hope you'll click ahead to do so...

Asim Abbasi is a Pakistani director making his feature debut with Cake. He previously made short films.  You can follow him on Twitter

More newbies after the jump...

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Oscar's Foreign Race Pt 3 - Female Directors

With the 87 wide official list of foreign Oscar submissions released to consider, we thought we'd dig a little deeper this week into various aspects of the race. We've already shared all the trailers so let's break down how the directors shake out with the rich and promising topic of women behind the camera.

Contrary to popular internet belief, very generally speaking of course, female directors overseas are not as rare or as systemically unsupported as they have historically been in the US. There are usually at least a handful of female-helmed films in the long official submission list. This year we have the second most we've ever had in the run up to the nominations. Of the 87 movies in contention, 20 were directed or co-directed by women. 

Rungano Nyoni was born in Zambia but emigrated to the UK when she was a little girl. Her debut feature is the widely acclaimed I Am Not a Witch (2018) which won the BAFTA last season for Outstanding Debut and is now playing in selected cities in the US.  She was previously nominated at the BAFTAs for a short film Mwansa the Great (2011). She is the second female filmmaker chosen by the UK for the Oscars, the first being Havana Marking for Afghan Star (2009) but that number isn't as dire as it sounds. The UK has only submitted 16 films in the history of the Oscars since most of the films produced there are in English...

Nadine Labaki is Lebanon's most internationally prominent director breaking through 11 years ago with the hit Caramel (2007). Her latest festival sensation Capernaum (2018) won a special Jury prize at Cannes and is opening in several international markets over the next few months including the US on December 14th.

18 more women after the jump...

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Funny Girl at 50

by Tim

This past week bore witness to one of the most very important anniversaries imaginable: Funny Girl turned fifty. And if you don't know what Funny Girl is and why it matters, I'm a little shocked you found this site, but I'm happy to explain that it's a Best Picture-nominated musical directed by Oscar favorite William Wyler, and the film debut of cabaret singer-turned-Broadway star-turned embodied deity Barbra Streisand. Who also got some Oscar love, winning Best Actress in a tie with Katharine Hepburn's turn in The Lion in Winter.

Not least among the achievements of Funny Girl is that, when thus compared head-to-head with one of the grandest dames of screen acting, Streisand looks like pretty worth recipient of that honor. Funny Girl, as scripted by Isobel Lennart (who also wrote the book for the 1963 stage version, also starring Streisand), is a gift to its lead, offering pretty much everything you could want to demand of a musical theater actor: broad comedy! tear-jerking heartbreak! steel-willed fortitude! songs where you have to be manic! songs where you have to be pensive!

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