Many might see 2017 as a tumultuous year for women in film, but it wasn’t. I see it as the year that women in the industry began the long journey towards ending the tumult, starting with the huge artistic risks they have taken in their work. Each film I chose for this list holds a purely individual voice, each voice starting a conversation about the future of not just women in film but the future of film as a whole. 2017 was only the beginning of hearing our stories, and we have a lot more to say…
1. Most Beautiful Island
Luciana, an undocumented immigrant, flees her homeland after a tragic accident, thrown into a sea of New York bodies churning for a better life. Regulated to Craigslist gigs, she finds herself descending into a Manhattan basement where a chilling, high-stakes game of terror unfolds. Loosely based on true events experienced by writer, director, actress Ana Asensio with hints of Polanski’s Repulsion and the highest class of B movie/social-issue thriller (think Get Out), the film hovers in a strange space of the wildly fantastic but also asphixatingly real. The garishness of the crowded streets, the saturated Super 16mm film and the somewhat overblown characters give the film a reserved cartoonish-ness that makes it even more sinister when darkness looms. The unmoored life of an illegal immigrant in the United States striving, yearning, trusting and hoping that things can improve is laid bare in this eerie narrative delivered with utmost control and perfectly sustained suspense. Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury prize for narrative feature, it is a balanced, relevant film that captures a strange unease that will forever remain synonymous with 2017.
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