By Inkoo Kang | Women and Hollywood February 26, 2014 at 10:26AM
This year's March Madness comes courtesy of the Veronica Mars movie, which will receive a day-and-date release on March 14. Kristen Bell's noir detective, now a decade out of high school, returns to her hometown to save her high-school boyfriend, screw-up rich kid Logan (Jason Dohring), from his latest legal trouble. If you haven't yet been acquainted with Bell's smart, winsomely bitter teen detective, there's still three weeks until the film's premiere -- plenty of time to binge-watch one of the best coming-of-age shows of all time.
In another life, Veronica might have been Divergent's Tris, another thrill-seeking young heroine who's determined to do something about the injustice she sees all around her. Adapted from Veronica Roth's best-selling YA series, Divergent stars Shailene Woodley as a high-school student seeking to stand out among the militaristic adrenaline junkies she left home to join. Kate Winslet co-stars as one of the representatives of the dystopian future that seeks to stamp out Tris, who poses a threat to their highly segregated society.
A handful of films explores the lives of women we're much less accustomed to seeing on the big screen. Annette Bening plays a middle-aged widow coming to grips with the loss of her husband as she embarks on a new relationship. Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club aims for comedic catharsis in the travails of single motherhood. Finally, Shirin in Love finds meet-cute love among the Iranian Americans of LA.
The indie world offers a quintet of films from women helmers next month -- every single one about female protagonists. Italian director Valeria Golino's Honey follows a nurse who helps patients die with dignity but finds herself confronted with a moral dilemma. French filmmaker Emmanuelle Bercot's On My Way centers on an older woman floundering romantically and professionally who seeks an escape through a road trip with her grandson. Wiebke von Carolsfeld's Stay stars Orange is the New Black lead Taylor Schilling as a woman who faces a potential breaking point in her relationship with her partner, who doesn't want the child they made together. Eliza Hittman's It Felt Like Love looks at love and sex from an entirely different perspective -- that of an awkward teenage girl overly eager for sexual experience. Last but not least, playwright-turned-director Jessica Goldberg explores the new responsibilities of a young woman who takes care of her siblings after their parents abandon them in Refuge.
Here are the March films written, directed by, and/or starring women. All descriptions are from press materials.
Honey - Directed by Valeria Golino; Written by Valeria Golino, Francesca Marciano, Valia Santella
Irene lives alone on the coastline outside Rome. To her father and her married lover, she's a student. In reality, she often travels to Mexico where she can legally buy a powerful barbiturate. Working under the name of Miele ("Honey"), her clandestine job is to help terminally-ill people to die with dignity by giving them the drug. One day she supplies a new "client" with a fatal dose, only to find out he's perfectly healthy but tired of life. Irene is determined not to be responsible for his suicide. From this point on, Irene is determined to get the drug back. She and Grimaldi become unwillingly locked in an intense and moving relationship which will change Irene's life forever.
The Face of Love
Five years after the death of her beloved husband Garrett (Ed Harris), Nikki (Annette Bening) meets a man who seems his exact duplicate. Not only does this stranger possess the same deeply lined face and startling blue eyes, he also shares Garrett's kindness, humor, and passion for art. And yet he is a stranger. Romance blossoms between Nikki and this alluring doppelganger, but she can't bring herself to tell him the truth about what drew her to him. So she hides her photos and prevents him from meeting friends and family. Still, she can't resist taking him to all the old haunts.
Veronica Mars - Co-Written by Dianne Ruggiero
A new case draws Veronica Mars back to her hometown of Neptune, CA, just in time for her ten-year high school reunion.
On My Way - Directed and Co-Written by Emmanuelle Bercot
Facing a failed relationship and a struggling restaurant, a woman hits the road for a trip with her grandson.
Exposed (doc) - Directed by Beth B
Exposed profiles eight women and men who use their nakedness to transport us beyond the last sexual and social taboos that our society holds dear. These cutting edge performers -- operating on the far edge of burlesque -- combine politics, satire, and physical comedy to question the very concept of 'normal.' Flying high with them, we get to look down on our myriad inhibitions. This film creates a unique perspective, taking the audience into the clubs an other hidden spaces where 'new burlesque' is challenging traditional notions of body, gender, and sexuality. The body types of the performers range from statuesque to trans-gender to disabled, and their personalities from sensational to scintillating.
The Right Kind of Wrong - Written by Megan Martin
Ryan Kwanten portrays a dishwasher and failed writer made famous by his ex-wife's blog, "Why You Suck."
The Den - Co-Written by Lauren Thompson
After receiving a grant for her graduate thesis, Elizabeth Benton (Melanie Papalia) logs onto a video-chat site known as The Den, on a mission to explore the habits of its users. During one of her random video-chats, Elizabeth watches in horror as a teenage girl is gruesomely murdered in front of her webcam. While the police dismiss it as a viral prank, Elizabeth believes what she saw is real and takes it upon herself to find the truth. Her life quickly spirals out of control as she gets pulled deeper into the darkest recesses of the internet. And eventually, Elizabeth finds herself trapped in a twisted game in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.
Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club
Brought together by an incident at their children's school, a group of single mothers from different walks of life bond, and create a support group that helps them find comedy in the obstacles of life, as well as their inner strength to overcome their personal challenges.
Shirin in Love
Nazanin Boniadi plays Shirin, an absent-minded, young Iranian-American living in "Tehrangeles" (the large Iranian community in Los Angeles) with her overbearing mother and empathetic father. Despite being engaged for years to a successful Iranian plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Shirin finds herself breaking loyalty and tradition when she falls in love with a mysterious young man who lives in a lighthouse in northern California. As her secret unravels and cultures clash, Shirin discovers what it ultimately means to be true to herself.
Divergent - Co-Written by Vanessa Taylor
An adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late.
It Felt Like Love - Written and Directed by Eliza Hittman
Lila wants to emulate the sexual exploits of her more experienced best friend. She fixates on a tough older guy who will "sleep with anyone" and tries to insert herself into his world, putting herself in a dangerously vulnerable situation.
Stay - Written and Directed by Wiebke von Carolsfeld
Taylor Schilling and Aidan Quinn deliver performances as Abbey and Dermot, a couple struggling to find their way in life. After retreating to the rugged expanse of the Irish countryside, their happy existence is upended when Abbey discovers she's pregnant. Dermot, a long-since disgraced professor, has no interest in being a father. With their lives now at a crossroads, Abbey and Dermot's relationship hangs in the balance. They must both face the truth of who they are and which path in life to take that will finally lead them home.
Anita (doc) - Directed by Frieda Mock
Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, Anita reveals the intimate story of a woman who spoke truth to power. Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, the film is both a celebration of Anita Hill's legacy and a rare glimpse into her private life with friends and family, many of whom were by her side that fateful day 22 years ago. Anita Hill courageously speaks openly and intimately for the first time about her experiences that led her to testify before the Senate and the obstacles she faced in simply telling the truth. She also candidly discusses what happened to her life and work in the 22 years since.
50 to 1 - Co-Written by Faith Conroy
A misfit group of New Mexico cowboys find themselves on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. Based on the inspiring true story of Mine That Bird, the cowboys face a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs, becoming the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world's racing elite.
Refuge - Written and Directed by Jessica Goldberg
After their parents abandon the family, a young woman works to take care of her younger siblings.
Finding Vivan Meier (doc)
Finding Vivian Maier unearths the mysteries behind Vivian Maier, who was a nanny in the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Maier’s secret world is unraveled slowly through her photo collections and interviews with those who knew her, from the parents who hired her and the children she cared for to store owners, movie theater operators, and neighbors.
When a foreign exchange student arrives in a small upstate New York town, she challenges the dynamics of her host family's relationships and alters their lives forever.