51Fest, A Girl From Mogadishu, After the Wedding, Brittany Runs a Marathon, documentaries, film festivals, For Sama, IFC Center, Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story, movies, New York City, Official Secrets, Otherhood, Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, Unbelievable, Untouchable, Women in the World
July 17, 2019
by Carla Hay
In the United States, women make up 51 percent of the population and at least half of all moviegoers. With that in mind, the feminist organization Women in the World and the independent arthouse cineplex IFC Center in New York City have teamed up for the inaugural 51Fest, a film festival aimed at promoting movies about women. All of the selected projects have at least one female producer or a female director. The event takes place July 18 to July 21, 2019. All of the screenings will be held at IFC Center, except for “Kathy Griffin: Hell of a Story,” which will take place at the SVA Theatre. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director(s) and/or stars from the movie.
Most of the movies in the first 51Fest lineup have already had their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival or South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, but there are a few offerings that will have their world premieres at 51Fest: The first episode of the Netflix limited series “Unbelieable,” a drama starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever, as well as the Netflix comedy film “Otherhood,” starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman.
Here is the lineup of programming for the inaugural 51Fest:
“Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story”
Thursday, July 18, 7:30 p.m. at SVA Theatre
Controversial comedian Kathy Griffin self-financed this documentary, which chronicles her comeback tour after being blackballed from most of the entertainment industry on the 2017 fallout from posing for a photo holding a fake, bloody head of Donald Trump. “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” got mostly positive reviews after its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. It’s scheduled to be released nationwide by Fathom Events for a one-night-only screening on July 31, 2019.
106 minutes. Directed by Troy Miller. A Brainstorm Media release in partnership with Fathom.
Post-screening conversation with Kathy Griffin and Tina Brown.
Women in the World Spotlight: Supermajority
Friday, July 19, 7 p.m. at IFC Center
Women in the World co-founder Tina Brown (who also founded The Daily Beast) will have a conversation with former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and Ai-jen Poo, the co-founders (along with Alicia Garza) of Supermajority, an activist organization aimed at empowering women. According to a description on the 51Fest website, “the conversation will be introduced by filmmaker Yoruba Richen with an exclusive clip of the forthcoming documentary ‘And She Could Be Next,’ about a movement of women of color claiming political power.”
(In alphabetical order)
“After the Wedding”
Saturday, July 20, 8:30 p.m. at IFC Center
Isabel (played by Michelle Williams) has dedicated her life to working with the children in an orphanage in Calcutta. Theresa (played by Julianne Moore) is the multimillionaire head of a media company who lives with her artist husband (played by Billy Crudup) and their twin boys in New York. When word comes to Isabel of a mysterious and generous grant for the financially struggling orphanage, she must travel to New York to meet the benefactor—Theresa—in person. After premiering at Sundance, “After the Wedding” (a remake of the 2006 Danish film directed by Susanne Bier) makes its New York premiere at 51Fest. The movie is set for release in select U.S. theaters on August 9, 2019.
110 minutes. Directed by Bart Freundlich. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Post-screening conversation with producer and star Julianne Moore and Tina Brown.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon”
Saturday, July 20, 2:45 p.m. at IFC Center
Winner of the Audience Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, this comedy was inspired by real events. The irresistible cast, led by Jillian Bell, lends heart and soul to this inspirational story of a party girl who finally finds real friends — and dignity — by taking control of her future, one city block at a time. At 27, her hard-partying ways, chronic underemployment and toxic relationships are catching up with her, but when she stops by a new doctor’s office to try to score some Adderall, she gets slapped with a prescription she never wanted: Get healthy. Too broke for a gym and too proud to ask for help, Brit is at a loss, until her seemingly together neighbor Catherine pushes her to lace up her Converse sneakers and run one sweaty block. The next day, she runs two. And soon, after finishing her first mile, she sets an almost unthinkable goal: running in the New York City Marathon. After its New York premiere at 51Fest, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be released in select U.S. theaters on August 23, 2019.
103 minutes. Directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. An Amazon Studios release.
Post-screening conversation with real-life subject Brittany O’Neill and Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR’s “Tell Me Another”
Sunday, July 21, 12 p.m. at IFC Center
After winning awards at the SXSW Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, the documentary “For Sama” makes its New York debut at 51Fest. “For Sama” is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice–whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. “For Sama” will be released in select U.S. theaters on July 26, 2019, before premiering on the PBS show “Frontline.”
95 minutes. Directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. A PBS Distribution/Frontline release.
After the screening, filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts and subject Dr. Hamza al-Kateab will be interviewed by Anne Barnard, who led coverage of the war in Syria for the New York Times from 2012 to 2018, as Beirut bureau chief.
“A Girl From Mogadishu”
Sunday, July 21, 5:15 p.m. at IFC Center
“A Girl From Mogadishu” is a drama is real-life-inspired story about the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM), based on the testimony of an Irish-Somali campaigner (played by Aja Naomi King). The film opens with a harrowing escape, as 17-year-old Ifrah Ahmed flees war-torn Somalia, evading smugglers and traffickers to seek asylum in Ireland. When she returns to Somalia to confront her family about being an unwilling victim of FGM, she also is determined to save other young girls at risk of FGM. “A Girl From Mogadishu” has its North American premiere at 51Fest.
112 minutes. Directed by Mary McGuckian.
Post-screening discussion with writer-director Mary McGuckian, actor Barkhad Abdi, and real-life subject Ifrah Ahmed, moderated by journalist Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani of Verizon Media
Saturday, July 20, 5:30 p.m. at IFC Center
She risked everything to stop an unjust war. Her government called her a traitor. Based on world-shaking true events, “Official Secrets” tells the gripping story of Katharine Gun (played by Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist whose job involves routine handling of classified information. One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, Gun receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on United Nations Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into an illegal war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press. So begins an explosive chain of events that will ignite an international firestorm, expose a vast political conspiracy, and put Gun and her family directly in harm’s way. After its New York premiere at 51fest, “Official Secrets” will be released in select U.S. theaters on August 30, 2019.
112 minutes. Directed by Gavin Hood. An IFC Films release.
Post-screening conversation with real-life subject Katharine Gun, moderated by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen.
Sunday, July 21, 2:30 p.m. at IFC Center
51Fest is having a sneak preview of the comedy film “Otherhood.” Feeling marginalized and forgotten, longtime friends Carol (played Angela Bassett), Gillian (played by Patricia Arquette) and Helen (played Felicity Huffman) decide to drive to New York to reconnect with their adult sons, and in the process they realize their sons are not the only ones whose lives need to change. A journey to relate becomes a journey of rediscovery that forces these women to redefine their relationships with their children, friends, spouses and most importantly, themselves. Netflix will premiere “Otherhood” on August 2, 2019.
Post-screening discussion with director Cindy Chupack and producers Cathy Schulman and Jason Michael Berman.
100 minutes. Directed by Cindy Chupack. A Netflix release.
“Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins”
Saturday, July 20, 12 p.m. at IFC Center
This documentary about the late columnist/writer Molly Ivins got rave reviews after its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and the movie has its New York premiere at 51Fest. At 6 feet tall, the politically outspoken Ivins was a force to be reckoned with in expressing her liberal viewpoints. The film also includes her battles with alcoholism and breast cancer, the latter of which took her life in 2007. Featuring interviews with Ivins’ friends and former colleagues, “Raise Hell” gives an in-depth look at her life and her lasting legacy. Magnolia Pictures will release “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins” in Texas on August 30, 2019, and in New York City and Los Angeles on September 6, 2019.
93 minutes. Directed by Janice Engel. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Post-screening conversation with director Janice Engel along with friends and admirers of Molly Ivins.
Friday, July 19, 8:30 p.m. at IFC Center
When teenager Marie Adler (played Kaitlyn Dever) files a police report claiming an intruder sexually assaulted her in her home, several people begin to doubt her story. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, detectives Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duvall (played Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) are investigating a case that is similar to what Marie has reported. The limited drama series “Unbelievable,” whose first episode will have its world premiere at 51Fest, is inspired by the real events in The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and the “This American Life” radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt.” Netflix will premiere “Unbelievable” on September 13, 2019.
60 min. Episode directed by Lisa Cholodenko. A Netflix release.
Post-screening conversation with showrunner and executive producer Susannah Grant, executive producer Sarah Timberman, executive producer and episode director Lisa Cholodenko, and actors Kaitlyn Dever, Danielle Macdonald and Merritt Wever.
Sunday, July 21st, 8:15 p.m. at IFC Center
This documentary chronicles the downfall of former entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein because of sexual abuse allegations. Although stories about Weinstein being a sexual predator had been circulating in the industry for decades, he wasn’t fully exposed until 2017, when the New York Times and the New Yorker published articles that had several famous women (including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino) telling their stories of being sexually harassed by Weinstein. The articles are considered the catalyst for the #MeToo movement. This documentary, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, includes interviews with Weinstein accusers Rosanna Arquette, Hope D’Amore, Paz de la Huerta, Erika Rosenbaum, and others. After its New York premiere at 51Fest, “Untouchable” will premiere on Hulu on September 2, 2019.
98 minutes. Directed by Ursula Macfarlane. A Hulu release.
Post-screening conversation with director Ursula Macfarlane and subjects Hope D’Amore and Erika Rosenbaum.