Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights. Progressive suburbanite wife and homemaker, Joy, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies when the procedure was illegal in most of the U.S. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival Sundance programmed several films about abortion, including the documentary The Janes and the international drama Happening.
With a talent-laden cast led by Banks and Sigourney Weaver, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nagy made her directorial debut with this film based on the real-life Jane Collective, an underground organization that helped women access abortions before Roe V. Wade. Written by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi, Call Jane explores the gender and body politics of the time within a positive and non-judgemental lens. Nagy also wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a forward-looking narrative.
Roadside Attractions announced it acquired U.S. rights to the film on February 4, with a planned theatrical release this fall. In addition, Call Jane is a nominee for the Golden Bear, the top prize at the upcoming 2022 Berlin Film Festival, set for February 10th – 20th, 2022. Four stars.
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival promised culture-shifting voices and none were more pronounced than Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, starring Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.
Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.
Emily The Criminalfrom Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.
Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,” R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.
Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.
Sundance Film Festival completed the second day of its online festival programming featuring conversations with John Boyega, Elizabeth Banks, Regina Hall, Sigourney Weaver, Abi Damaris Corbin, Phyllis Nagy, Connie Britton, Colin Farrell, Hayley Lu Richardson, Wuumi Mosaku, Zoe Renee, Mariama Diallo, Chlose Okuno, Kogonada, and more. Stay tuned. In the meantime check out “How To Fest With Tabitha Jackson.”
Making the festival easily accessible to everyone is a primary driver and here is a daily segment titled, “How To Fest With Tabitha Jackson,” chock full of wise words combined with a Shari Frilot and Phyllis Nagy filmmaker chat. In addition, suggestions for the day’s films and events with brief overviews are provided to ease the sense of inundation. Furthermore, it’s a fun piece! Go forth and discover…