To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Hollywood Theatre has Feminist March—a series showcasing over a dozen films about women and from women directors, encompassing a slew of genres. Between the screenings and guest presenters, Feminist March is a lot, so before we get to the Mercury’s recommendations, please understand that I want to see everything. (Working woman comedy classic 9 to 5, with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin? Yes, please! Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary about the Hollywood movie star who also invented a whole new way to sink Nazi U-boats? Hell yeah! The Gentleman Bank Robber, about Oregon’s butch bank robber who was also a classy bank robber? YES.) So if you see something on Feminist March’s schedule that isn’t mentioned here, rest assured that I recommend it in my heart and will probably see it. I am blonde and cry when women self-actualize onscreen. See you there.
In the meantime, though, here are just a few of my picks for this month-long film series, which I think should be extended to at least a year.
(dir. Agnes Varda, screens Sun March 11)
French director Agnes Varda is grounded, endlessly curious, and 89 years old, and her entire existence is feminist art at its very best. Though she’s often tagged as the godmother of the French New Wave, all that really means is that she’s the only woman grouped within that school; her career goes well beyond early New Wave projects like Cléo de 5 a 7 (which is wonderful), spanning decades, ideas, and genres. (Feminist rec: 1985’s Vagabond, in which Mona, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, hits the road and fends for herself with each passing mile.) In her latest, Faces Places, Varda joins forces with French street artist JR to travel throughout French villages, meeting locals and creating large-scale portraits of their faces. In an interview with Deadline, Varda said of Faces Places: “It’s [an idea] of documentary which is like being a sociologist but not as a teacher—sociologist as a friend. I say it as a ‘smiling sociologist.’” If the idea of a smiling sociologist appeals to you, so will Varda’s films. Any time you have a chance to see one on the biggest screen available, you should take it.
(dir. Sean Baker, screens Mon March 26)
2015’s Tangerine was shot on iPhones, and it still ended up with gorgeous, neon-tinged visuals that’re similar to the dreamlike, Lisa Frank color palette in writer/director Sean Baker’s follow-up, The Florida Project. But what’s really notable about Tangerine is its exploration of the lives of LA’s transgender sex workers of color, and the fact that they’re actually played by transgender actresses of color, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. As Baker follows heroines Alexandra (Taylor) and Sin-Dee (Rodriguez)—who’s just gotten out of jail and is on a quest to track down her cheating pimp/boyfriend—he brings humanity and compassion to his marginalized characters. Stories about sex workers are often presented in supposedly “gritty” shakycam by less imaginative directors, but here, what could have been yet another bummer cautionary tale turns into something much more interesting and funny. This screening is also a benefit for social justice collective NXT LVL PDX.
(dir. James L. Brooks, screens Mon March 5)
Is your favorite kind of movie a “Let’s do the news!” movie? Do you wish The Post spent more time on Meryl Streep and less on men in short-sleeved dress shirts? Did The Newsroom’s depiction of women journalists as weepy, incompetent messes hurt your feelings on a deeply personal level? Good news! Feminist March includes the journalism classic Broadcast News, starring Holly Hunter as an extremely competent (yay!) news producer. There’s also some romance stuff, but who cares—what matters is this movie stars Holly Hunter as an extremely competent news producer. This screening will be introduced by the Mercury’s own What’s She Mad About Now? columnist Courtenay Hameister, whose extreme competence IRL is something I can happily vouch for.Feminist March runs Mon March 5-Sat March 31. See hollywoodtheatre.org for complete schedule.