September, it seems, began in retrograde: not one of the films opening on Labor Day weekend was directed by a woman.
Meanwhile the holiday's big femme-centric feature, the French thriller "Love Crime,"has an older and younger woman--formidably portrayed by Kristin Scott-Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, respectively--pitted against each other in mortal competition. No siree, sisterhood was not this month's starter.
However, September does see the launch of "Women and Girls Lead," a multiyear, multiplatform, global femme-centric cinematic initiative intended to raise consciousness about issues and empower women to take action against gender bias and other social injustice. "Women and Girls Lead" is created by ITVS, the nonprofit that provides much of the content for PBS, and partnering organizations, including the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the Girl Scouts.
The heart of the initiative will be the broadcast of 50 female-empowering documentary features on public television, with a rich variety of interactive online opportunities.
Now, back to movies in the mainstream. Two notable movies come to theaters today, Sept. 9. "Tanner Hall," a first feature written and directed by Tatiana von Furstenberg (Diane's daughter) and Francesca Gregorini (Barbara Bach's daughter, Ringo Starr's step- daughter), is a coming-of-age drama about four teens trying to define themselves and their life goals while attending an exclusive Rhode Island boarding school. The film is a strong ensemble piece, starring Rooney Mara, whose breakout performance here led to her casting for the role of Liz Salander in the upcoming English version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."
The second opener is Heather Courtney's "Where Soldiers Come From," another coming-of-age story. This one is a documentary about high school buddies from rural Michigan -- from the director's hometown, in fact -- who join the National Guard and are unexpectedly deployed to Afghanistan, where they explode IEDs and are so completely traumatized they can't re-enter civilian life. Courtney chronicles their stories with compassion and insight, capturing their personalities and quirks. These are good kids.
Each is every mother's son. And their disillusionment and anguish are heart wrenching. A must-see! Sept. 16 brings four intriguing openings. An older women is at the heart of the story told in "My Afternoons With Margueritte," a charming French film (with English subtitles). Gisele Casadesus plays the title role, a well-read senior citizen who befriends a lonely and illiterate younger man (played by Gerard Depardieu), and they give each other purpose. It's a lovely story and a lovely film fizzing with star chemistry.