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September 2020 Film Preview | Women and Hollywood

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By Shayna Maci Warner and Tatiana McInnis

September is rich in documentaries and epic narratives with long-awaited releases. This month’s varied documentary releases highlight women’s storytelling in front of and behind the camera. They offer inside looks into U.S. democracy and its discontents, and capture the untold, unbelievable stories of women stunt performers. Narrative features offer similarly unbelievable heroism ranging from warriors, to legendary real-life feminists and musicians, to young women defying all constraints of polite society.

Women-directed and centric documentaries this month include clandestine examinations of retirement homes in “The Mole Agent,” (September 1), the rise and fall of prominent gymnast, Andreea Răducan, after a flu tablet plummeted her into an alleged doping scandal, in “The Golden Girl” (September 1), and voter suppression in the U.S. in “All In: The Fight for Democracy” (September 9). Lillian Lasalle’s “My Name Is Pedro” (September 17) follows a beloved teacher catapulted into prominence, while April Wright’s “Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story” (September 22) ushers in the fall season with a punch, offering insight into the experiences of stuntwomen’s struggles on and off screen. 

A complement to this month’s many examinations of women’s rights, Philippa Lowthorpe’s based-on-a-true-story “Misbehaviour” (September 25) features Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Jennifer Hosten, the first Black woman to be crowned Miss World against the backdrop of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Unjoo Moon’s “I Am Woman” biopic (September 11) follows Australian Helen Reddy’s journey to take on male gatekeepers in the music industry in the U.S. Julie Taymor’s latest, “The Glorias” (September 30), is an imaginative depiction of Gloria Steinem’s life and work based on Steinem’s “My Life on the Road.” Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson, and Ryan Keira Armstrong all portray the iconic feminist.

September also offers the streaming releases of highly-anticipated films, with Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan” (September 4), and “Antebellum” (September 18), which sees Janelle Monáe’s protagonist trapped in a horrifying, time-bending reality that places her in the pre-Civil War South. Thanks to theaters still being closed due to COVID-19, these buzzy films can be enjoyed from home, alongside Netflix releases such as “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (September 4) and “Enola Holmes” (September 23). The former features mysterious time loops as a woman (Jessie Buckley) meets the parents of the boyfriend she wants to break up with. “Enola Holmes” ends the month on an adventurous note, as Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) defies her older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, and societal expectations. Meanwhile, HBO Max’s “Unpregnant” (September 10) is a road trip flick in which a teen (Haley Lu Richardson), along with a former friend (Barbie Ferreira), crosses state lines to obtain a legal abortion.

Here are the women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films debuting this September. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.

September 1

“The Golden Girl” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Denisa Morariu-Tamaș and Adrian Robe (Available on VOD)

“The Golden Girl”

Andreea Răducan is a successful 32-year-old woman and one of Romania’s greatest gymnasts. She worked all her life to become an Olympic champion, and when she finally won the all-round Olympic gold medal in Sydney in 2000, she was stripped of it three days later, after being found positive for a doping substance found in a flu tablet that her doctor had administered to her just minutes before entering the competition. Fifteen years later, Andreea is fighting the toughest fight against the people who deceived her, as she tries to recover her medal and, along with it, her dignity. But along the way, the film uncovers another side of the medal, the trauma and the effort, the sweat and the pain behind the glitter of a gold medal and the glamour of being a champion.

“Children of the Sea” (Available on VOD)

“Children of the Sea”

When Ruka (Mana Ashida) was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora (Hiiro Ishibashi and Seishû Uragami). They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish.

“The Mole Agent” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Maite Alberdi (Available on VOD)

When a family becomes concerned about their mother’s well-being in a retirement home, private investigator Romulo hires Sergio, an 83 year-old man who becomes a new resident — and a mole — inside the facility, who struggles to balance his assignment with becoming increasingly involved in the lives of several residents.

“Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest” – Directed by Nathalia Hencker and Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy; Written by Natalya Dubovaya, Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy, and Ivan Kapitonov (Available on VOD)

A young family hires a nanny to look after their children, but after gaining the trust of the unsuspecting parents, their new guardian begins exhibiting some alarmingly unnatural behavior. When his parents don’t believe his claims, son Egor (Oleg Chugunov) is left to contend with the problem on his own, until one day he discovers that the nanny and his young sister have disappeared without a trace.

September 2

“Freaks: You’re One of Us” (Available on Netflix)

Tipped by a mysterious tramp, a meek fry cook discovers she has superpowers — and kindred spirits — and uncovers an unsavory, vast conspiracy.

September 3

“Love, Guaranteed” – Written by Elizabeth Hackett and Hilary Galanoy (Available on Netflix)

Earnest, hard-working lawyer Susan (Rachael Leigh Cook) has taken one too many pro bono cases. To save her small law firm, Susan begrudgingly takes a high-paying, high-profile case from Nick (Damon Wayans Jr.), a charming new client who wants to sue a dating website that guarantees users will find love. But Susan and Nick soon find themselves in the middle of a media storm, and as the case heats up, so do their feelings for each other — which could jeopardize everything.

September 4

“Mulan” – Directed by Niki Caro; Written by Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, Amanda Silver, and Rick Jaffa (Available on Disney+ for Additional Cost)

“Mulan”

Acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro brings the epic tale of China’s legendary warrior to life in Disney’s “Mulan,” in which a fearless young woman risks everything out of love for her family and her country to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known. When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Available on Netflix)

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”: Netflix

Full of misgivings, a young woman (Jessie Buckley) travels with her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to his parents’ (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself.

“Beau Travail” (Restoration) – Directed by Claire Denis; Written by Claire Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau (Available via Virtual Cinemas)

With her ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd, Sailor,” Claire Denis firmly established herself as one of the great visual tone poets of our time. Amid the azure waters and sunbaked desert landscapes of Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion sergeant (Denis Lavant) sows the seeds of his own ruin as his obsession with a striking young recruit (Grégoire Colin) plays out to the thunderous, operatic strains of Benjamin Britten. Denis and cinematographer Agnès Godard fold military and masculine codes of honor, colonialism’s legacy, destructive jealousy, and repressed desire into shimmering, hypnotic images that ultimately explode in one of the most startling and unforgettable endings in all of modern cinema.

“Lost Girls and Love Hotels” – Written by Catherine Hanrahan (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

Margaret (Alexandra Daddario) finds herself in the glittering labyrinth of Tokyo by night and as a respected English teacher of a Japanese flight attendant academy by day. With little life direction, Margaret searches for meaning with fellow ex-pats in a Japanese dive bar, drinking to remember to forget and losing herself in love hotel encounters with men who satisfy a fleeting craving. When Margaret crosses paths with a dashing Yakuza, Kazu (Takehiro Hira), she falls in love with him despite the danger and tradition that hinders their chances of being together. We follow Margaret through the dark and light of love and what it means to find oneself abroad with a youthful abandon.

“Dream Horse” (In UK Theaters)

“Dream Horse” tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites. The group’s investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks with grit and determination and goes on to race in the Welsh Grand National, showing the heart of a true champion.

“Switched” – Written by Alexandra Boylan, Andrea Polnaszek, and John K.D. Graham (Available on VOD)

Tired of being bullied, Cassandra Evans (Miya Horcher) prays that her nemesis, Katie Sharp (Madeleine Byrne), the queen bee of social media, would know what it’s like to walk a day in her shoes. Her prayer is answered in an unexpected way when they get “Switched.”

September 7

“My Octopus Teacher” (Documentary) – Directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed (Available on Netflix)

“My Octopus Teacher” takes viewers into a world few humans have ever seen. Eight years ago, debilitated by adrenal fatigue, Craig began free diving in a freezing underwater forest at the tip of Africa. As the icy water re-energized him, he started to film his experiences and in time, a curious young octopus captured his attention. By visiting her den and tracking her movements everyday for months, he won the animal’s trust and they developed an unlikely relationship. As the little octopus shared the secrets of her world, Craig became witness to the beauty and drama of a wild creature’s life and in the process, underwent an incredible mental and physical transformation.

September 8

“Surge” (Documentary) – Directed by Hannah Rosenzweig and Wendy Sachs (Premieres on SHOxBET)

“Surge” is a feature documentary about the record number of first-time female candidates who ran, won, and upended politics in what became the historic, barrier-breaking 2018 midterm elections. The film explores whether this is another moment in women’s political history or the beginning of a true movement. “Surge” follows three congressional candidates in Texas, Indiana, and Illinois, who were each looking to flip their deep red districts to blue, including Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman ever to be elected to Congress. A registered nurse and public health expert, Underwood is now on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and a leading voice on racial injustice. The film exposes the double standards, biases and brutal realities women face running for Congress — some, incredibly enough, without the support of their own party. “Surge” is not only about women running for office, but about women getting behind women running for office. It powerfully taps into the collective urgency of this time with a hopeful message that grassroots activism works and unlikely candidates can win.

September 9

“All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Documentary) – Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés (In Theaters; Available on Amazon Prime September 18)

“All In: The Fight for Democracy”

“All In: The Fight for Democracy” examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States in anticipation of the 2020 Presidential Election. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary will offer an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

“Cuties” – Written and Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré (Available on Netflix)

“Cuties”

Eleven-year-old Amy (Fathia Youssouf) lives with her mom, Mariam (Maïmouna Gueye), and younger brother, awaiting her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Amy is fascinated by disobedient neighbor Angelica’s (Médina El Aidi-Azouni) free-spirited dance clique, a group that stands in sharp contrast to stoic Mariam’s deeply held traditional values. Undeterred by the girls’ initial brutal dismissal and eager to escape her family’s simmering dysfunction, Amy, through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, propels the group to enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls’ hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.

“Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President” (Documentary) – Directed by Mary Wharton (In Theaters and Available via Virtual Cinemas)

“Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President” shows how Carter’s lifelong passion for music gave him an unexpected edge as a presidential candidate as he tapped into a force that transcended racial and generational divides, and often party lines. Carter’s appreciation for all genres of music, and friendships with the likes of Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Willie Nelson helped to define his administration. Featuring rare archival era-defining live performances from Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, and Dylan, among others, director Mary Wharton traces how Carter’s genuine approachability, combined with the unifying power of music, became key to his political appeal, and allowed him to connect with voters who may only have known him as a small-town peanut farmer.

“The Social Dilemma” (Documentary-Narrative Hybrid) – Written by Vickie Curtis, Davis Coombe, and Jeff Orlowski (Available on Netflix)

Set in the dark underbelly of Silicon Valley, “The Social Dilemma” fuses investigative documentary with enlightening narrative drama — think “An Inconvenient Truth” meets “The Matrix.” Expert testimony from tech whistle-blowers exposes our disturbing predicament: the services Big Tech provides — search engines, networks, instant information, etc. — are merely the candy that lures us to bite. Once we’re hooked and coming back for more, the real commodity they sell is their prowess to influence and manipulate us.

September 10

“Unpregnant” – Directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg; Written by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, Jenni Hendriks, Ted Caplan, and Bill Parker (Available on HBO Max)

“Unpregnant”

In “Unpregnant,” 17-year-old Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) never thought she’d want to fail a test — that is, until she finds herself staring at a piece of plastic with a blue plus. With a promising college-bound future now disappearing before her eyes, Veronica considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make. This never-taken-lightly decision leads her on a 1,000-mile hilarious road trip to New Mexico over three days with her ex-best friend, Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), where they discover sometimes the most important choice you’ll make in life is who your friends are.

“Black Boys” (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Sonia Lowman (Available on Peacock)

“Black Boys” is documentary film that celebrates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. Utilizing conversations and stories around education, criminal justice, and sports, the film reveals the emotional landscape of those experiencing racism and invites us to reimagine an America in which Black boys experience true belonging and unlimited possibilities. A film for this historic moment, in a nation still struggling to rectify its racist legacy, “Black Boys” serves as a rare glimpse into the emotional landscape of Black men and boys, illuminating their tenderness, vulnerability, joy, and resilience.

“The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show” (Documentary) – Directed by Yoruba Richen (Available on Peacock)

“The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show”

“The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show” chronicles the seminal event and almost-forgotten moment in American history during which legendary entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte hosted the iconic “Tonight Show” in place of Johnny Carson for an entire week. Amidst a backdrop of riots across the country and the Vietnam War, Belafonte introduced a fractured, changing country to itself for five nights with guests that included entertainment icons Aretha Franklin and Sidney Poitier as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. “The Sit-In” highlights never-before-seen footage from this pivotal week, which set the stage for the confluence of late-night and politics that we see today.

September 11

“I Am Woman” – Directed by Unjoo Moon; Written by Emma Jensen (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“I Am Woman”

In 1966, single mother Helen Reddy (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) leaves her old life in Australia for New York and stardom, only to find that the industry’s male gatekeepers don’t take her seriously. Helen finds an encouraging friend in legendary rock journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald), who becomes her closest confidant. When ambitious aspiring talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters) sweeps Helen off her feet, everything changes as he becomes both her husband and manager and relocates the family to California. With a strong push from Helen, Jeff secures her a recording contract and subsequent string of hit singles, including the iconic mega-hit “I Am Woman.” Increased fame leads to added pressures on themselves and their relationship, forcing Helen to find the strength to take control of her own destiny.

“Space Dogs” (Documentary) – Directed by Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter (Available via Virtual Cinemas)

Laika, a stray dog, was the first living being to be sent into space and thus to a certain death. According to a legend, she returned to Earth as a ghost and has roamed the streets of Moscow ever since. Following her trace, and filmed from a dog’s perspective, “Space Dogs” accompanies the adventures of her descendants: two street dogs living in today’s Moscow. Their story is one of intimate fellowship in a menacing world but also a magical tale of voyagers scouting for unknown spaces.

“Dad Wanted” – Written by Paulette Hernandez, Javier Colinas, Victor Avelar, and Fernando Barreda Luna (Available on Netflix)

Blanca’s (Natalia Coronado) mom stopped letting her ride her BMX bike after her dad died in an accident. So, after reading about a BMX contest happening soon, she tries to enter it without her mom’s knowledge. The only problem? A parent needs to sign her in.

September 15

“In the Life of Music” – Directed by Caylee So and Sok Visal; Written by Caylee So and Dane Styler (Available on VOD)

“In The Life of Music”

“In the Life of Music” follows the journey of Hope (Ellen Wong) a young American girl visiting her relatives in Cambodia for the first time. Determined to learn the history of her parents, Hope discovers the story of how one song, “Champa Battambang,” played an integral part of three generations.

“Vitalina Varela” – Written by Vitalina Varela and Pedro Costa (Available on VOD)

“Vitalina Varela”

A Cape Verdean woman navigates her way through Lisbon, following the scanty physical traces her deceased husband left behind and discovering his secret, illicit life.

September 16

“The Secrets We Keep” (In Theaters)

In post-WWII America, a woman (Noomi Rapace), rebuilding her life in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina), kidnaps her neighbor (Joel Kinnaman) and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she believes he committed against her.

September 17

“My Name Is Pedro” (Documentary) – Directed by Lillian Lasalle (Available via Virtual Cinemas)

This film explores what public education meant to South Bronx Latino maverick educator Pedro Santana, and what he, in turn, meant to public education. Infectious in his optimism, Santana becomes one of the most influential public school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system after turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. He is unapologetic in his commitment to create change for kids, no matter the odds. When a glowing front page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion to use his famed “out of the box” and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district.

September 18

“Antebellum” (Available on VOD)

“Antebellum”

Successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.

“Rocks” – Directed by Sarah Gavron; Written by Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson (In UK Theaters)

“Rocks”

The film follows teenager Rocks (Bukky Bakray), who fears that she and her little brother (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) will be forced apart if anyone finds out they are living alone. With the help of her friends, she evades the authorities and navigates the most defining days of her life. “Rocks” is a film about the joy, resilience, and spirit of girlhood.

“Blackbird” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

Lily (Susan Sarandon) and Paul (Sam Neill) summon their loved ones to their beach house for one final gathering after Lily decides to end her long battle with ALS on her own terms. The couple is planning a loving weekend complete with holiday traditions, but the mood becomes strained when unresolved issues surface between Lily and her daughters Jennifer (Kate Winslet) and Anna (Mia Wasikowska). Joining the collective farewell are Lily’s son-in-law (Rainn Wilson), her lifelong friend (Lindsay Duncan), her daughter’s partner (Bex Taylor-Klaus), and her grandson (Anson Boon). Her story is ultimately one of hope, love, and a celebration of life.

September 22

“Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story” (Documentary) – Directed by April Wright (Available on VOD)

“Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story” is the inspiring untold story about the unsung professionals, their struggles on screen to perform at the highest level, and their fight off-screen to be treated fairly and equally. The movie takes us behind-the-scenes and introduces us to the female stunt performers who drive the action and thrills of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies from the silent age of cinema to present day.

September 23

“Enola Holmes” (Available on Netflix)

“Enola Holmes”

England, 1884 — a world on the brink of change. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) wakes to find that her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts but no apparent clue as to where she’s gone or why. After a free-spirited childhood, Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies. Refusing to follow their wishes, Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. But when her journey finds her entangled in a mystery surrounding a young runaway Lord (Louis Partridge), Enola becomes a super-sleuth in her own right, outwitting her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history. 

September 25

“Misbehaviour” – Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe; Written by Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“Misbehaviour”

In 1970, the Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by U.S. comedy legend Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear). At the time, Miss World was the most-watched TV show on the planet with over 100 million viewers. Claiming that beauty competitions demeaned women, the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition. Not only that, when the show resumed, the result caused uproar: the winner was not the Swedish favorite but Miss Grenada (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the first Black woman to be crowned Miss World. In a matter of hours, a global audience had witnessed the patriarchy driven from the stage and the Western ideal of beauty turned on its head.

“Kajillionaire” – Written and Directed by Miranda July (In Theaters)

“Kajillionaire”

Con-artists Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) have spent 26 years training their only daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), to swindle, scam, and steal at every opportunity. During a desperate, hastily conceived heist, they charm a stranger (Gina Rodriguez) into joining their next scam, only to have their entire world turned upside down.

“The Artist’s Wife” – Written by Nicole Brending, Tom Dolby, and Abdi Nazemian (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“The Artist’s Wife” tells the story of a once-promising painter, Claire (Lena Olin), who now lives in the shadow of her husband Richard’s (Bruce Dern) illustrious career. While preparing work for his final show, Richard’s moods become increasingly erratic, and he is diagnosed with dementia. Challenged by the loss of her world as she knew it, Claire must now decide whether to stand with Richard on the sidelines or step into the spotlight herself. 

“Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles” (Documentary) – Directed by Laura Gabbert (Available on VOD)

Via London, Versailles, and Instagram, “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles” follows famous chef Yotam Ottolenghi on his quest to bring the sumptuous art and decadence of Versailles to life in cake form at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He assembles a team — a veritable who’s who of the dessert world, including Dominique Ansel and Dinara Kasko — to help bring his vision to life. The pastry chefs create a true feast of Versailles complete with a cocktail whirlpool and posh jello shots, architectural mousse cakes, chocolate sculptures, swan pastries, and an edible garden. Ottolenghi acts as our guide throughout, disassembling pastries to give us the history of ingredients that we now take for granted, like sugar and chocolate. “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles” perfectly captures the heights of human achievement and the frailty of decadence, adding taste as one more sense with which to experience the Met.

“Ava” (In Theaters)

“Ava”

Ava (Jessica Chastain) is a deadly mercenary who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe and specializing in high profile hits. Ava’s career takes a bad turn when a job goes wrong due to faulty information. With a botched hit — as well as a track record for questioning the validity of her targets — Ava is told to take a hiatus until the heat blows over, but secretly the head of the organization, Simon (Colin Farrell), has ordered a hit on her. With the recent death of her father, Ava decides to go back home to Boston and attempt to mend her relationship with her mother and sister, Judy (Jess Weixler), though the homecoming proves to be far from happy as the years of estrangement have created resentment. To complicate things further, Ava’s ex-fiancé, Michael (Common), is now in a relationship with Judy, and involved with an underground gambling ring that Ava knows all too well from her younger days. Ava now has to save her family and herself from multiple threats, while battling her own demons.

“Secret Society of Second Born Royals” – Directed by Anna Mastro (Available on Disney+)

“Secret Society of Second Born Royals” follows Sam (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), a teenage royal rebel second in line to the throne of the kingdom of Illyria. Just as Sam’s disinterest in the royal way of life is at an all-time high, she discovers she has super-human abilities and is invited to join a secret society of similar extraordinary second-born royals charged with keeping the world safe. With guidance from their Secret Society instructor (Skylar Astin), Sam and a new class of royal recruits must first learn to harness their new powers at a top-secret training camp before they can save the world.

September 29

“Sno Babies” – Directed by Bridget Smith (Available on VOD)

A gripping and emotive tale, “Sno Babies” depicts the grim realities of addiction and its effects on a middle-class suburban town. Kristen (Katie Kelly) and Hannah (Paola Andino) are best friends — smart, likable, and college-bound — and also addicted to heroin. The pair of seemingly unlikely addicts spiral down a path of destruction, hiding their secret from well-meaning but busy parents behind pink bedrooms and school uniforms. “Sno Babies” shows how easy it can be to both miss and hide the signs of addiction behind the façade of “good” neighborhoods and pleasantly busy communities.

September 30

“The Glorias” – Directed by Julie Taymor; Written by Julie Taymor and Sarah Ruhl (Available on Amazon Prime and VOD)

“The Glorias”: Sundance Institute

Journalist, fighter, and feminist Gloria Steinem is an indelible icon known for her world-shaping activism, guidance of the revolutionary women’s movement, and writing that has impacted generations. In this nontraditional biopic, Julie Taymor crafts a complex tapestry of one of the most inspirational and legendary figures of modern history, based on Steinem’s own memoir “My Life on the Road.” “The Glorias” traces Steinem’s (Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson, Ryan Keira Armstrong) influential journey to prominence — from her time in India as a young woman, to the founding of Ms. magazine in New York, to her role in the rise of the women’s rights movement in the 1960s, to the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference and beyond.

“American Murder: The Family Next Door” (Documentary) – Directed by Jenny Popplewell (Available on Netflix)

In 2018, 34-year-old Shanann Watts and her two young daughters went missing in Frederick, Colorado. As heartbreaking details emerged, their story made headlines worldwide. Told entirely through archival footage that includes social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages, and never-before-seen home videos, director Jenny Popplewell pieces together an immersive and truthful examination of a police investigation and a disintegrating marriage. “American Murder: The Family Next Door” is the first film to give a voice to the victims.

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