Fierce females in Cinema Akil’s women on screen series

Here’s a preview of the silver screen action you don’t want to miss

It’s usually quite easy to determine the success of a Hollywood blockbuster – just check out the number of rave reviews it garners and see how big the box office numbers are.
Sometimes, however, you have to look a little bit deeper to get the whole story. Superhero flick Wonder Woman was hugely impressive on both counts upon its release last year, but it has made a cultural impact that has been felt long after the credits rolled and the last handful of popcorn was polished off.
During what continues to be a tumultuous time for gender equality in the film world, the DC Comic-inspired juggernaut made a major mark for female empowerment both on and off the screen. Not only was it the first female-led superhero movie for more than a decade, it was the first to be directed by a woman – with Patty Jenkins (of Monster fame) in the hot seat.
But you don’t have to wear a cape and carry a shield like Gal Gadot to be a true wonder woman.
Inspiring tales of female heroism – from a tiny child fighting for her family’s survival, to a teenage boxer dreaming of an Olympic gold medal – are being put in the spotlight in a new film programme now underway at Dubai’s cultural hub in Alserkal Avenue.

Cinema Akil, an independent movie theatre in the UAE, has joined forces with the Embassy of the United States and the United States Consulate General in Dubai to present FIERCE!, an American film showcase programme dedicated to pioneering women who took risks and broke down barriers.

The film programme – putting the female perspective front and centre – is now in motion and will run throughout the summer until September. The first film you can catch – The If Project – is on Saturday June 23.
Six more documentaries and films will be shown after that, so there’s sure to be something to pique your interest, if not all of them. All the showings are free and are held on Saturdays at 7pm.

Here’s a sneak preview of the coming silver screen action you don’t want to miss.

June 23: The If Project

This gritty, feature-length documentary, directed and produced by Kathlyn Horan, tells the gripping tale of a group of inmates incarcerated in a maximum-security women’s prison who take part in a writing workshop created by a repeat offender and a Seattle police detective. The cameras capture their emotional journey as they forge an unlikely bond with the police officer and embark on new lives after being released from prison. The thought-provoking film provides a unique insight into the trials and tribulations faced by those trying to re-enter society and grasp their second chance.

June 30: She Started It
The 2016 documentary follows five ambitious women over a period of two years as they build teams, pitch to venture capitalists, bring products to the market, fail – and then start all over again. Viewers are taken on a global roller coaster ride, taking in San Francisco, Mississippi, France and Vietnam. She Started It explores the cultural roots of female underrepresentation in entrepreneurship, putting issues such as self-doubt, fear of failure and risk aversion among young women under the microscope, as well as hot topics such as a lack of female role models and the dearth of funding made available to women-led companies. Along the way, inspiring success stories such as Joanne Wilson; White House CTO Megan Smith; GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling; and Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook, offer their own perspective.

July 14: Supergirl
Success can weigh heavily on anyone’s shoulders – particularly a nine-year-old girl. The Supergirl in question is Naomi Kutin, who rose to fame after smashing a powerlifting world record. Swiftly transformed from anonymous school girl to international sensation, the coming-of-age tale sees Naomi navigate strict religious obligations and health issues as, with the support of her family, she finds out that she can be just as strong in mind as she is in body.

July 28: Custody
Tense legal proceedings and intimate family business intertwine in this 2016 drama. Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis (for Best Supporting Actress in Fences) stars as an embattled family court judge facing marital troubles of her own, Hayden Panettiere – best known for starring in US television shows Heroes and Nashville –plays a recent law-school graduate flung into a custody case and Catalina Sandino Moreno plays a single mother at the centre of the case who risks losing her two children.

August 11: The Big Flip
Family and financial strife is detailed through the personal lives of four American couples who see their circumstances and society’s expected norms of the marital dynamic “flipped”. Chuck and Amy are seemingly comfortable with her being the main breadwinner, until Chuck is laid off and the delicate balance in their middle class lives is thrown off. Meanwhile Fred and Robyn, who met as young snowboarders, are stuck in a rut, 15 years and two kids later, as Fred struggles to come to terms with the end of his snowboarding career and Robyn feels trapped as a sole income provider. Bonnie and Chip and Jullee and Ross must face their own battles as life changes around them and the traditional role of the man and the woman in the home
is reversed.

August 19: Dream, Girl
Dream, Girl shows that dreams really can become a reality. The documentary highlights the successes of inspiring and enterprising female entrepreneurs, from brand-new start-ups to million-dollar industries. This film shows how girls can lead the way. It premiered at The White House in 2016 and was produced by an all-female crew, headed up by Komal Minhas and Erin Bagwell.

September 1: Loretta Lynn: Still A Mountain Girl
She’s the queen of country music – and is still reigning supreme after decades on the throne. Musical icon Loretta Lynn, now 86, embodies the American dream so fully that her rags-to-riches story is too fantastic to have been scripted. She has influenced generations of country singer-songwriters and played to sold-out crowds across America, with her early songs helping to lead the charge for feminism and other social issues in the 1960s and ’70s. At the age of 72, she released a Grammy-winning, bestselling album with rock icon Jack White, of the White Stripes. Lynn’s awe-inspiring life story won acclaim in Michael Apted’s Oscar-winning 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter and is now being told again for a modern audience by director Vikram Jayanti. Her 60-year career is celebrated with the help of musical giants such as collaborator White, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks. She’s still a mountain girl – and she’s still at the summit of the industry.
Free. Jun 23-Sep 1 (screenings at 7pm). Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz

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