On the Power of Choice and Imagination: The Ms. Q&A with ‘Women Talking’ Producer Dede Gardner

Already showing in select theaters and releasing nationwide on Jan. 27, Women Talking is both beautiful and harrowing: an ideologically captivating drama about how a group of women with very little agency navigate making a choice that will have profound effects on their lives, their children’s lives and their community. This extraordinary film features an equally extraordinary ensemble cast, including Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Judith Ivey, with Ben Whishaw and Frances McDormand.

The film takes place in 2010 in an isolated religious community, where it’s been discovered that men and boys have been drugging and raping the women and girls while they sleep; the story concentrates on the small group chosen to make a crucial decision for all the women and girls in the colony: stay and fight back, or leave. Ms. had the opportunity to speak with producer Dede Gardner about her work on the film and its reflection of the power of community, of choice, and of imagination.

In ‘The Swimmers’ Film, Director Sally El Hosaini and Olympian Yusra Mardini Bring the Refugee Experience to the Screen

In 2015, sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini, trained as professional swimmers by their father, fled Syria with hopes of escaping their war-torn homeland. During the harrowing 25-day journey, the dinghy’s motor broke and the boat began to sink—so Yusra and Sara jumped into the frigid waters to drag the boat to shore. Eventually granted asylum in Germany, Yusra began training again at a Berlin pool and was selected to compete as part of the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Their story has been captured in The Swimmers, an evocative biographical drama directed by Sally El Hosaini and released on Netflix last month. In this Q&A, Sally El Hosaini and Yusra Mardini discuss the experience of making the film, how to tell true stories, and what they hope viewers will take away.

Abigail Disney Is Deconstructing and Rebuilding the American Dream

Some employees of the “happiest place on Earth” can barely afford housing and food, while the CEO makes an annual salary in the multi-millions.

“Without collective bargaining, in some form, whether it’s unions or some other para-union type organizations, we all live at the mercy of Jeff Bezos, we all live at the mercy of Bob Iger. Is that really the society you want to live in?” Abigail Disney told Ms., ahead of her new documentary, The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, out in select theaters and on streaming Sept. 23, 2022.

What Kate Tsang’s ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’ Can Teach Us About Magic, Connection and Coming of Age

When Marvelous and the Black Hole premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, I was instantly charmed by its clever, unique story and excellent performances—from both relative newcomer Miya Cech and the always unforgettable Rhea Perlman. The film is coming to theaters on April 22—the perfect opportunity to revisit the film and speak with writer and director Kate Tsang about her powerful debut feature.

‘The Janes,’ a Lively Documentary About the Movement to Provide Safe Abortions Pre-Roe

In five years (1968-1973), the Janes provided an estimated 11,000 safe abortions to women and girls in and around the city of Chicago. The documentary The Janes provides a somewhat chronological account of their work, ending with the public arrest of several of its members, the threat of long prison sentences, and the interventions of their attorney. But it’s so much more than a mere history lesson—it’s a vibrant, attentive film that emphasizes the collaborative spirit and radical potential of a small community able to do tremendous work on a large scale.

Sundance 2022: Film “Call Jane” Reminds Us a Post-Roe World Won’t Stop Abortion Access

Given the precarious state of abortion rights in the U.S. and the fervent hope that we’ll make it to the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade next year, it’s fitting that Sundance included two films about the Janes, an underground network of women in Chicago in the late 1960s who helped procure safe abortions for those in need of them before the legalization of the procedure nationwide.

Directed by Phyllis Nagy—the brilliant screenwriter who adapted Patricia Highsmith’s novel Carol—and written by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi, Call Jane employs a composite character, Joy (Elizabeth Banks), as a conduit through which to tell the story of the Janes. But Joy’s can-do spirit doesn’t strike the the right tone for an account of a collaborative, revolutionary group of women who put themselves at tremendous risk to procure safe abortions for desperate girls and women.

Sundance 2022: “Sirens” Is Much More Than a Documentary About the First All-Women Metal Band in Lebanon

In her screening introduction, director Rita Baghdadi reasoned that she created Sirens, part of the World Documentary competition at Sundance this year, in order to make a film about women in the Middle East that wasn’t just about victimhood or struggle. What emerges is a beautifully-wrought and surprising portrait of Lebanon’s first and only all-women’s thrash metal band, Slave to Sirens.

Sundance 2022: “Calendar Girls,” a Joyful Documentary About Women for Whom Age Is Just a Number

Currently premiering at Sundance, Calendar Girls is a documentary about a Florida dance troop made up of women aged 50-plus. Embracing whimsy in unicorn-themed headbands one minute and then discussing heavy subjects like death and assisted suicide the next, the Calendar Girls offer their perspectives on what it means to grow older while exploring the power of friendships, leisure, work and learning new things even later in life.