By Kerensa Cadenas | Women and Hollywood October 2, 2013 at 2:00PM
We've come off an impactful September for women in film with Haifaa Al-Mansour's Wadjda breaking boundaries for women directors in Saudi Arabia and being the country's first Oscar entry; Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's After Tiller sparking discussion around the abortion debate; and Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said stealing critics and audience's hearts with the box office numbers to prove it.
October promises tense and terrifying roles for women like Sandra Bullock's Oscar buzzing turn as an astronaut in Gravity and Chloe Moretz's take at playing the iconic horror heroine Carrie White in Kimberly Peirce's Carrie. There are also intimate looks at lesbians in different life stages like Stacie Passon's sexy and thoughtful look at a lesbian housewife (Robin Weigert) going through a mid-life crisis in Concussion or Adele Exarchopoulos as a young woman figuring out her sexuality and falling in love with another woman in the much talked about Blue is the Warmest Color.
Other films this month include documentaries looking at LGBT rights, three women living in Cambodia and the experience of being a young black man in America as well as narrative features from veteran directors like Claire Denis, Malgorzata Szumowska and the directorial debut of Young Adult and Juno writer Diablo Cody.
Here's a preview of what you should mark your calendars for in October. All descriptions (unless otherwise noted) are from IMDB.
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Concussion - Written and Directed by Stacie Passon
After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can't do it anymore. Her life just can't be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor. Read our interview with the team behind Concussion.
A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.
Grace Trey is the ideal Christian teen who is also a phenomenal singer. But at the tender age of eighteen, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the "real world" - her faith is put to the test.
Set in the Bronx, Babygirl is a bitter-sweet drama about a teen, who finds herself trapped in an unwanted love-triangle with her mom's latest boyfriend.
For as long as she can remember, Bronx teenager Lena (Yainis Ynoa) has watched her mom Lucy (Rosa Arrendondo) squander her life on a series of deadbeat men. When Victor (Flaco Navaja), her mom's latest boy toy, starts hitting on Lena, she sets up a trap to expose Victor for the creep he is... but the plan backfires.
Macdara Vallely crafts a heartfelt drama about the emotional highs and lows in the moment between childhood and adulthood. (Official Site)
I Used to be Darker - Co-Written by Amy Belk
When Taryn (Deragh Campbell), a Northern Irish runaway, finds herself in trouble in Ocean City, MD, she seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore. But Kim and Bill (Ned Oldham and Kim Taylor) have problems of their own: they're trying to handle the end of their marriage gracefully for the sake of their daughter Abby (Hannah Gross), just home from her first year of college. A story of family revelations, people finding each other and letting go, looking for love where they've found it before and, when that doesn't work, figuring out where they might find it next. (Press Materials)
Bridegroom - Directed by Linda Bloodworth Thomason (doc)
Bridegroom tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death-- of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized--is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality and human rights like no speech or lecture ever will.
On the anniversary of Tom's death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner entitled "It Could Happen to You." The video went viral and garnered over four million views to date. Although it was a cathartic process for him and a tribute to the love of his life, more than anything, Shane wanted it to serve as a warning to other LGBT couples, and show the world what can happen when two people are legally barred from having equal rights and equal protections under the law to marry. (Press Materials)
All Is Bright - Written by Melissa James Gibson
Lie, cheat, steal...it's all part of the holiday spirit for ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti) and fast talker Rene (Paul Rudd) when they try to make a quick buck selling Christmas trees in New York. For Dennis it's a chance to go straight, and for his best friend and former partner-in-crime, Rene, it's a chance to make some easy cash so he can marry Dennis's ex-wife. But for two not-very-bright guys now stuck together on the cold streets of Brooklyn, this holiday season may bring some of the most unexpected miracles of all. (Press Materials)
Zero Charisma - Co-Directed by Katie Graham
As the strict Game Master of a fantasy role-playing game, Scott (Sam Eidson) leads his friends in a weekly quest through mysterious lands from the safety of his grandmother's kitchen. But his mastery of his own domain starts to slip -- along with everything else in his life -- when neo-nerd hipster Miles (Garrett Graham) joins the game, winning over the group with his confident charm and dethroning Scott with an unexpected coup. Caught in delusions of grandeur, Scott must roll the dice and risk everything to expose Miles as the fraud he believes him to be. A darkly comedic fable of epic proportions, Zero Charisma is an ode to nerds from every realm. (Press Materials)
A River Changes Course - Directed by Kalyanee Mann (doc)
A River Changes Course is the moving and insightful 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film that follows three young Cambodian women and their struggle to maintain their traditional ways of life amid rapid development and environmental degradation of the river they have lived and worked on for generations. Working in an intimate, verite style, filmmaker Kalyanee Mam spent two years in her native homeland: from the remote, mountainous jungles and floating cities of the Cambodian countryside to the bustling garment factories of modern Phnom Penh. The documentary traces a devastating and beautiful story of an ancient culture ravaged by globalization and the ever changing environment. This village and this film is but a small example of what is going on around the world in many third world countries. The film is a haunting tale of what's around the corner for our world and Kalyanee's directorial debut. (Press Materials)
Camille Claudel 1915
Juliette Binoche gives a mesmerizing performance as the brilliant sculptress, protege of Auguste Rodin (and later his mistress), and sister of the Christian/mystic poet Paul Claudel -- who, by 1915, was confined to a remote, church-run asylum for the mentally ill near Avignon. Dumont's rigorous, hypnotic portrait suggests that Camille's intense creativity and bohemian mores were on an inevitable, tragic collision course with her conventional Christian family and the expectations of early 20th century French society. Camille's paranoia (she believes Rodin is plotting against her and is responsible for her incarceration) and occasional violent outbursts complicate her situation. Dumont peoples his film with real-life asylum inmates, a controversial decision that gives the film a disturbingly realistic dimension and adds to the story's considerable poignancy. (Press Materials)
Carrie - Directed by Kimberly Peirce
A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.
Paradise - Written and Directed by Diablo Cody
After surviving a plane crash a young conservative woman suffers a crisis of faith.
In this reverse ghost story, teenager Lisa Johnson (Breslin) and her family died in 1986 under sinister circumstances but remain trapped in their house, unable to move on. Over a period of six "days", Lisa must reach out from beyond the grave to help her present-day, living counterpart, Olivia, avoid the same fate Lisa and her family suffered. (Press Materials)
American Promise - Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson - October 18 (doc)
American Promise spans 13 formative years in the lives of two young black boys, their son Idris and his best friend Seun, as they navigate an elite, performance-driven, ivy league New York City prep school in a universe still largely segregated by race, class and culture. Filmmakers Brewster and Stephenson, a Harvard and Stanford-trained psychiatrist and Columbia Law School graduate, respectively, are middle class African-American parents from the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. When they open their cameras onto the world of five-year-olds Idris and Seun, two talented boys both accepted into the prestigious Dalton School in kindergarten as part of the institution's commitment to diversity, a sprawling and epic verite essay on the education of young black males in America unfolds. While Idris grafts easily into social structure of his new school, Seun struggles to find his place in the scheme of things, and by high school ultimately transfers to the mostly black Benjamin Banneker Academy, a public high school in Brooklyn. Both boys face the challenges of their unique situation amidst the normal formidable pressures of growing up, including discipline from their parents, a mother's diagnosis of cancer and the tragic death of a sibling. Chronicling the boys' poignantly divergent -- yet essentially interconnected -- paths through high school graduation, this provocative and profoundly warm documentary presents complicated truths about societal coming of age on issues of race, class and opportunity in America today. (Press Materials)
Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue is the Warmest Color centers on a 15-year-old girl named Adele (Exarchopoulos) who is approaching adulthood and dreams of experiencing her first love. A handsome male classmate falls hard for her, but an unsettling erotic reverie upsets the romance before it begins. Adele imagines that the mysterious, blue-haired girl she encountered in the street slips into her bed and possesses her with an overwhelming pleasure. That blue-haired girl is a confident older art student named Emma (Seydoux), who will soon enter Adele's life for real, making way for an intense and complicated love story that spans a decade and is touchingly universal in its depiction.
Bastards - Directed and Co-Written by Claire Denis
Bastards follows Marco Silvestri, a captain on a container-ship who is called urgently back to Paris by his desperate sister Sandra. Sandra's husband has committed suicide, the family business has gone under, her daughter has gone adrift - and she holds powerful businessman Edouard Laporte responsible. Determined to exact a terrible revenge for the violence done to his family, Marco moves into the building where Laporte's mistress Raphaelle lives; but he can't avoid Sandra's secret manipulations… or the fact that he is falling in love with Raphaelle. (Indiewire)
Girl on a Bicycle
Paolo, an Italian tour bus driver living in the "second most beautiful city in the world", Paris, has just summoned up the courage to propose marriage to his flight attendant girlfriend Greta when, per chance, he encounters the alluring, mysterious Girl on a Bicycle. Infatuation is immediate. Obsession follows. Unable to get the image of this beauty out of his head, he seeks advice from his best friend, the witty and womanizing Derek. In his bumbling attempt to meet the Girl, French model Cecile, Paolo accidentally knocks her over with his bus and his life turns madly chaotic.
In the Name of... - Co-Written and Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska
Winner of the Teddy Award for best LGBT narrative film at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, Malgorzata Szumowksa's Polish drama "In the Name Of" sensitivity approaches the central character of a gay priest. Father Adam (Andrzej Chyra, in a rather mesmerizing performance) is the pastor of a tiny parish in the middle of the Polish countryside. As drama begins to surround Father Adam, "In The Name Of..." develops into a thoughtful, distinctive portrait of a truly devout man struggling to come to terms with himself (notably after developing a relationship with a Jesus lookalike youth at the center for difficult boys he devotes time to). And though the film is largely a serious affair, look out for the film's doozy of a sole comic scene, in which Adam gets ridiculously drunk and dances with a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI. (Indiewire)