Gender Is Still Burning: The Ms. Q&A with Jennie Livingston

When filmmaker Jennie Livingston stumbled upon drag ball culture in the late 1980s, they had no idea how much the resulting film would resonate. Released in 1990, Livingston’s first documentary Paris Is Burning showcases drag balls during the late 1980s in Harlem, New York City, and features interviews with numerous queer and trans Black and Latinx performers who comprised the various “houses” in competition at the balls. Decades later, the film continues to resonate.

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.

If the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Met the Dynamic Mrs. Dennett—Sex Ed And Censorship Would Be So 20th Century

Like other fans of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I’ll be binge-watching when the fourth season of the hit series finally drops on Friday, Feb. 18.

I can’t help but wonder if the fictional Midge Maisel was influenced by the real-life Mary Ware Dennett or what would happen if they met. From 1915 through the 1930s, Dennett’s pioneering battles against U.S. government censorship helped pave the way for the freedom of speech Mrs. Maisel relies on and fights to expand.

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.