Films By Women at LA Film Festival

#52FilmsByWomen

#52FilmsByWomen at LA Film Festival

Women In Film is proud to share these great films by women at LA Film Festival! With a lineup including 25 woman-made films, the festival is an excellent chance to start your list of #52FilmsByWomen, one each week for a year. In fact, those who pledge to watch #52FilmsByWomen here will receive 10% off passes to LA Film Festival. You’ll get your discount code when you make the pledge.

 

Featured Film: Namour

Directed by Heidi Saman & Written by Heidi Saman

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Steven Bassem spends his evenings at an upscale restaurant among the nouveau riche elite. But he’s not there to dine; he’s there to park cars. An all-but-invisible valet, Steven is acutely aware of his dead-end situation and begins to act out erratically. As the bonds of his once tightly knit Arab-American family erode, Steven acts out in increasingly erratic ways, and struggles to figure out who he is and what he ought to be doing. Set in the economic recession of the late 2000’s, writer/director Heidi Saman’s debut feature film sports a bold, sleek and nuanced visual style that pays homage to Los Angeles, while capturing the city’s unique capacity for alienation as a distinctly realist backdrop to Steven’s internal turmoil.

 

Featured Film: Sensitivity Training

Directed by Melissa Finell 

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Rude, crude and unapologetic, microbiologist Dr. Serena Wolfe didn’t get to where she is by playing nice. When a colleague’s untimely demise is attributed to Dr. Wolfe’s ferocious abrasiveness, she’s ordered to undergo an attitude adjustment courtesy of perpetually chipper sensitivity coach Caroline. With Caroline shadowing Serena’s every move, they develop an unexpected bond, each challenging the other’s defenses.Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Production Grant and Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, this hilarious debut feature from writer/director Melissa Finell is a fresh and welcome spin on the classic buddy comedy. Featuring an unforgettable comic turn by Anna Lise Phillips, this is a smart, tender film for anyone who has needed a little help being their “better self.”

 

Featured Film: Tracktown

Directed by Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher 

US Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets
Twenty-one-year-old Plumb Marigold has lived her entire life surrounded by coaches, teammates and fans as she trains to be an Olympic distance runner. Though she excels in her sport, she’s always felt like an outsider, as her schedule kept a normal life of boobs and boys at bay. That all changes after Plumb is ordered to take a day off from running to recover for the finals of the Olympic Trials. Her forced downtime, including a surprise connection with a boy who works at the bakery, sets her on a path where she can finally see the full picture, one step at a time. The compelling experience of a young Olympic hopeful is heightened by the casting of numerous real-life Olympic runners — including co-writer/director and lead actor Alexi Pappas. In an impressive first-time directorial collaboration, Pappas and Jeremy Teicher offer a welcome and privileged perspective to a unique, but ultimately relatable, world.

 

#AskHerFilm

#AskHerFilm Twitter Chats

Due to popular demand, we are relaunching the #AskHerFilm chats we first kicked off with The Director List as part of Women’s History Month! In celebration of the relaunch we are doing a special group chat with four filmmakers premiering at LA Film Festival. Login to Twitter and follow hashtag #AskHerFilm on Thursday, June 2 from 1-2 PM PDT to chat with the directors of three films premiering at LA Film Festival: Tracktown, No Light and No Land Anywhere, & The View From Tall. We will continue the chats on a monthly basis from here on out. 

 

Featured Film: Equity

Directed by Meera Menon & Written by Amy Fox

Buzz

Showtimes and Tickets

With an aggressive prosecutor from her past on her heels and a strained relationship with her junior prosecutor, senior investment banker Naomi Bishop is forced to reexamine her own ambitions and the cutthroat world she loves—one where the glass ceiling is yet to be broken. Meera Menon’s suspenseful sophomore feature can be considered the first female-focused Wall Street drama, with solid performances by Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn and Alysia Reiner that embody the inimitable protagonists enabling the power structures of Wall Street in the post-financial crisis.

 

Keep scrolling for a complete list of films by women at LA Film Festival!

Caring

Directed by Maggie Kiley & Written by Erin Wagoner

Web Series

Showtimes and Tickets

This is a story about nannies and the moms that pay them. It’s a story about being a woman and caretaker and mother and the constant tug-of-war between kids and dreams and money and ovaries and eggs and sex and careers and goals and major disappointments.

 

Company Town

Directed by Natalie Kottke-Masocco, Erica Sardarian

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

What do you do when the company you work for is making you sick? Privately owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Georgia-Pacific is one of the world’s largest pulp, paper and chemical manufacturers—and is a massive environmental polluter. In Crossett, Arkansas, Pastor and Deputy Sheriff David Bouie has had enough. He and his neighbors are sick; breathing with respirators, dying of cancer and demanding that Georgia-Pacific and Koch Industries take responsibly for decades of negligence and countless lives lost. After spending years gaining the trust of the people in Crossett, first-time directors Natalie Kottke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian have crafted an inspiring David and Goliath story about community resiliency that is told as an engrossing investigative tale full of heart and sincerity.

 

Dr. Feel Good

Directed by Eve Marson 

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

Dr. William Hurwitz was sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking. Considered by many a preeminent pain specialist, Hurwitz had no moral qualms about prescribing as many opiates as his patients needed in order to fight their chronic pain and live normal lives. Placed within a larger historical context regarding the use and legality of opiates, first-time director Eve Marson presents a remarkably even portrait of a man who dared to challenge the established norms for pain treatment. Despite testimonies about how his prescriptions created life-shattering addictions, and in some cases death, Hurwitz is unabashedly firm in the face of intense criticism about the ethics of his former practice from the families of former patients, other medical professionals and even his own family

 

Equity

Directed by Meera Menon & Written by Amy Fox

Buzz

Showtimes and Tickets

With an aggressive prosecutor from her past on her heels and a strained relationship with her junior prosecutor, senior investment banker Naomi Bishop is forced to reexamine her own ambitions and the cutthroat world she loves—one where the glass ceiling is yet to be broken. Meera Menon’s suspenseful sophomore feature can be considered the first female-focused Wall Street drama, with solid performances by Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn and Alysia Reiner that embody the inimitable protagonists enabling the power structures of Wall Street in the post-financial crisis.

 

Free CeCe!

Directed by Jacqueline Gares & Written by Laverne Cox, Jacqueline Gares

Limelight

Showtimes and Tickets

On her way to the store with a group of friends, Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was attacked. While defending her life, a man was killed. After a coercive interrogation, CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including actress and executive producer Laverne Cox. Cox used this platform to explore the roles race, class and gender played in CeCe’s case. CeCe emerged not only as a survivor, but also as a leader. Documentarian Jac Gares pushed past everyday narratives of victimhood that surround the lives of transgender people, to spotlight the way CeCe and other trans people are leading a growing movement to critically interrogate and disassemble the prison industrial complex.

 

Fridays

Directed by Anna Kerrigan & Written by Shoshannah Stern, Josh Feldman

Web Series

Showtimes and Tickets

A dramedy about Kate and Michael, two best friends who are deaf, as they try to navigate their friendship through new changes in their lives: Kate is newly married and Michael is newly single

 

Girl Flu

Directed by Dorie Barton

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Bird is mature for her age, a thoughtful sixth grader who dreams of doing the grocery shopping so that all food groups are represented, but whose emotional wisdom starts to slip when her body begins to develop. After her first period arrives in an embarrassingly public way, Bird turns to her single mother for guidance; however, her mom is a flighty stoner who finds this milestone just as befuddling as her young daughter. Already frustrated by their recent move to Echo Park from the Valley, Bird wishes everything would start making sense again. First-time director Dorie Barton sets a lighthearted backdrop for this mother and daughter twofold coming-of-age story, offering a sweet perspective on a universal, yet underrepresented experience.

 

Heis

Directed by Anaïs Volpé & Written by Anaïs Volpé

World Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

One of many millennial causalities of Europe’s stagnant economy, 25-year-old Pia seeks a fresh start and returns home to live with her Syrian mother and twin brother. Confronted by her brother’s cynical disapproval and her mother’s unfulfilled dreams, Pia becomes motivated to finally take charge of her life. Anaïs Volpé’s confident debut explores the emotional and existential state of contemporary youth with an exciting style that’s reminiscent of French New Wave but informed by the fragmented energy of today’s digital generation. This daring visual structure, paired with Volpé’s self-reflective questioning as Pia, beautifully represents the concerns of millennials striving for autonomy in a time of economic and societal uncertainty. Volpé, as writer, director and star, presents a fresh new voice that invites us to question what we want and rediscover ourselves

 

Her Story

Directed by Sydney Freeland & Written by Jen Richards, Laura Zak

Web Series

Showtimes and Tickets

Violet and Paige are two transgender women in Los Angeles who have given up on love—until chance encounters give them renewed hope.

 

Instababy

Directed by Rosie Haber & Written by Lauren Cioffi

Web Series

Showtimes and Tickets

Gay adoption is illegal in Mississippi, so Toni and Keeta look for a baby on Instagram.

 

Jackson

Directed by Maisie Crow

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

An impassioned pro-life activist, an earnest director of a women’s health clinic and a marginalized single mother form the basis of this unforgettable film chronicling Mississippi’s push to ban abortion and the subsequent consequences for women in the nation’s most impoverished state.A powerful snapshot of modern American life in the South, documentarian Maisie Crow’s debut feature is an unflinching look at the politics of reproductive rights at Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic. With astonishing access to all sides of the issue and presenting multiple points-of-view, Crow crafts an emotionally searing portrait of a government determined to abolish abortion access by any means necessary and the toll on the lives of women and families caught in the crossfire.

 

Jean of the Jonses

Directed by Stella Meghie & Written by Stella Meghie

Buzz

Showtimes and Tickets

The life of 25-year-old Jean Jones, part of a multi-generational, middle-class Jamaican American family of strong-minded women, comes to an arresting stop when her estranged grandfather dies on the doorstep of the family’s brownstone during Sunday dinner. Tensions rise at the funeral as the Jones women face their divorces, infidelities and past transgressions. While uncovering the family’s buried secrets, Jean faces the tough truths of her failing career and her crippling inability to move on from a past relationship to the love that is staring her right in the face. Stella Meghie delivers real black girl magic in her directorial and writing debut. Jean of the Joneses is a welcome breath of fresh air, offering a new modern depiction of Black family life anchored in the firm, albeit complicated, relationships of these dynamic women.

 

Like Cotton Twines

Directed by Leila Djansi & Written by Leila Djansi

World Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Micah, an American volunteer who takes a teaching job in a remote Ghanaian village, has great expectations for his mother’s homeland. He is enthusiastic and eager to help his students fulfill their potential, especially Tuigi, a bright 13-year-old girl. But Tuigi’s family must atone for a deadly accident committed by her father and, according to religious custom, Tuigi must abandon her education and be offered as a sex slave. Clinging to his Western moral senses, Micah pits himself in a battle against tribal culture and the state. Writer/director Leila Djansi’s feature is as ambitious as it is haunting, infuriating and ultimately hopeful. Courageous performances by Yvonne Okoro and Ophelia Dzijornu are certain to generate conversations that will continue well after the ending credits.

 

Namour

Directed by Heidi Saman & Written by Heidi Saman

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Steven Bassem spends his evenings at an upscale restaurant among the nouveau riche elite. But he’s not there to dine; he’s there to park cars. An all-but-invisible valet, Steven is acutely aware of his dead-end situation and begins to act out erratically. As the bonds of his once tightly knit Arab-American family erode, Steven acts out in increasingly erratic ways, and struggles to figure out who he is and what he ought to be doing. Set in the economic recession of the late 2000’s, writer/director Heidi Saman’s debut feature film sports a bold, sleek and nuanced visual style that pays homage to Los Angeles, while capturing the city’s unique capacity for alienation as a distinctly realist backdrop to Steven’s internal turmoil.

 

No Light and No Land Anywhere

Directed by Amber Sealey

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Grieving her mother’s death and her own failing marriage, Lexi boards a plane from London to Los Angeles in search of the estranged father who abandoned her when she was three years old. Based out of a seedy Hollywood motel, she follows a tenuous trail of breadcrumbs, collecting numbers and addresses in the hopes that one will lead to her father, while establishing unexpected connections along the way. A stranger in the City of Angels, Lexi’s reckless searching leads to cautious discoveries in this atmospheric and introspective quest. LA Film Festival alum Amber Sealey’s third film is an assured exploration of the ties that bind us to (and unbind us from) the people we love and to the people we wish would love us back.

 

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

Directed by Deborah Riley Draper

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

Before defiant fists were raised in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics, 18 African American athletes paved the way for future generations by competing in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. History has placed Jesse Owens on his own pedestal, but Deborah Riley Draper’s debut feature film sheds light on the cumulative work of 17 other Black athletes and their journey from America’s attempted boycott of the ’36 Olympics, to the trials, competition and the athletes’ unceremonious return home. The courage and success of these men and women sparked pride among the African American community, as they defied both the institutional racism of Jim Crow America and the Nazi doctrine of Aryan supremacy. Their camaraderie and collective action was a critical step towards the Civil Rights Movement. Compelling footage is paired with interviews from athletes, experts and surviving family members who share an important story that was almost lost to history.

 

Out of Iraq: A Love Story

Directed by Eva Orner, Chris McKim 

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

How far would you go to be with the love of your life? In 2003 in the midst of war, in a country where homosexuality is banned, two Iraqi men meet by chance and fall in love. Nayyef, a translator for the U.S. military, and Btoo, a soldier in the Iraqi army, face persecution—and possibly death—if they stay in their homeland. After obtaining a visa, Nayyef leaves his love behind, settling in Seattle with a determination to one day reunite with Btoo in a place where they can express their love freely and without fear. Directors Eva Orner and Chris McKim tell the story of this audacious journey of love, sacrifice and courage with a heartwarming and energetic style.

 

Paint It Black

Directed by Amber Tamblyn 

US Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Josie is a young woman struggling to cope with the tragic death of her boyfriend. In the aftermath of his death, she finds herself both repelled and attracted to his pianist mother, Meredith, who holds Josie responsible for her son’s passing. The two women are drawn into a twisted relationship raging with equal parts distrust and blind need as they become consumed with each other while trying to navigate life without the one they love. Adapted from the eponymous book by Janet Fitch, Amber Tamblyn’s impressive directorial debut is visually decadent, elaborately reflecting the intensity of her characters’ spiraling emotional states. Commanding performances by Janet McTeer and Alia Shawkat make Paint It Black a startlingly visceral experience and affirm Tamblyn’s unique voice as a director.

 

Play the Devil

Directed by Maria Govan & Written by Maria Govan

World Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Gregory, a gifted student from a working class family, is favorably positioned to win a coveted medical scholarship, and yet is secretly cultivating a desire to become a photographer. James, an established businessman, uses his wealth and access to pique the young man’s latent artistic inclinations. When James cannot accept Gregory’s boundaries, the relationship spirals into a fateful, carnal dance during the “Jab” (devil) play, on Carnival’s Monday night. Bursting with confidence, style and vision against the lush landscape of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, Bahamian writer/director Maria Govan’s sophomore feature complicates notions of masculinity, privilege and sexuality in this nuanced, yet brutal, coming-of-age portrait that deftly thwarts any easy moral judgments of her characters’ actions and desires.

 

Political Animals

Directed by Jonah Markowitz, Tracy Wares & Written by Jonah Markowitz

Documentary

Showtimes and Tickets

Former California state representative Sheila Kuehl says you have to be a bad girl to be in politics—and she should know. As one of the first openly gay representatives in California’s history, Kuehl endured lectures from her fellow representatives comparing gay people to cattle and pedophiles. She introduced and fought for legislation to protect California’s LGBT schoolchildren from bullying four times before it finally, barely passed. Kuehl and her fellow representatives Jackie Goldberg, Christine Kehoe and Carole Migden suffered through years of verbal abuse related to their introduction of the state’s first domestic partnership law, which paved the way for federal gay marriage rights. Political Animals is an inspiring portrait of four defiant women who refused to let hatred and homophobia stop them from making history and achieving legal recognition for LGBT people throughout California and the United States.

 

Sensitivity Training

Directed by Melissa Finell 

LA Muse

Showtimes and Tickets

Rude, crude and unapologetic, microbiologist Dr. Serena Wolfe didn’t get to where she is by playing nice. When a colleague’s untimely demise is attributed to Dr. Wolfe’s ferocious abrasiveness, she’s ordered to undergo an attitude adjustment courtesy of perpetually chipper sensitivity coach Caroline. With Caroline shadowing Serena’s every move, they develop an unexpected bond, each challenging the other’s defenses.Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Production Grant and Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, this hilarious debut feature from writer/director Melissa Finell is a fresh and welcome spin on the classic buddy comedy. Featuring an unforgettable comic turn by Anna Lise Phillips, this is a smart, tender film for anyone who has needed a little help being their “better self.”

 

Quirky Female Protagonist

Directed by Yulin Kuang & Written by Aliee Chan

Web Series

Showtimes and Tickets

Turning the genre of female-centric comedies on its head, the ladies face one drama after another.

 

Tracktown

Directed by Alexi Pappas, Jeremy Teicher 

US Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Twenty-one-year-old Plumb Marigold has lived her entire life surrounded by coaches, teammates and fans as she trains to be an Olympic distance runner. Though she excels in her sport, she’s always felt like an outsider, as her schedule kept a normal life of boobs and boys at bay. That all changes after Plumb is ordered to take a day off from running to recover for the finals of the Olympic Trials. Her forced downtime, including a surprise connection with a boy who works at the bakery, sets her on a path where she can finally see the full picture, one step at a time. The compelling experience of a young Olympic hopeful is heightened by the casting of numerous real-life Olympic runners — including co-writer/director and lead actor Alexi Pappas. In an impressive first-time directorial collaboration, Pappas and Jeremy Teicher offer a welcome and privileged perspective to a unique, but ultimately relatable, world.

The View From Tall

Directed by Erica Weiss, Caitlin Parrish & Written by Caitlin Parrish

US Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Justine is like many 17-year-olds who struggle in high school: She is smart but unpopular, her parents don’t understand her and even her sister pretends not to know her in public. What sets Justine apart is that the entire school is aware of her recent sexual relationship with a teacher. Feeling both visible and ignored to uncomfortable degrees, she is mandated to see a therapist, Douglas, a disabled man with demons of his own. Justine finds a sympathetic ear in Douglas, and ultimately recognizes an equally lonely kindred spirit. As the lines of propriety between them are stretched, Justine must navigate the thorny issues of age, lust and leaving adolescent life behind.

First-time directors Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss bring their years of theatrical experience and collaboration to this unique and rare take on female empowerment on the cusp of adulthood.
–Drea Clark

Woven

Directed by Salome Mulugeta, Nagwa Ibrahim & Written by Salome Mulugeta, Ryan Spahn, Kristin Hangg

US Fiction

Showtimes and Tickets

Willfully independent, Elenie Tariku is a young Ethiopian American psychologist who finds herself caught between cultural tradition and family responsibilities. When a mysterious crime takes the life of her only brother, Elenie becomes relentless in her search for the truth and learns to reconcile cultural expectations with her own pursuit of self-identity and love. First-time directors Salome Mulugeta and Nagwa Ibrahim craft an intricately layered story about our interconnected world and the richness of the immigrant experience. Woven distinctly showcases Ethiopian culture—a refreshing depiction rarely seen in American cinema. Mulugeta shines as Elenie, bringing to life the nuanced complexity of a strong, yet flawed woman demanding to forge her own way.