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24 Frames per Second, Women's History Month

21st-Century Women on Film

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Jefferson Market recognizes Women's History Month with its March film series

Global women's issues are the focus of Jefferson Market Branch's Monday night film series in March, which is National Women's History Month.

Volver screens March 15 at Jefferson MarketVolver screens March 15 at Jefferson MarketThe series, titled 21st-Century Women on Film, includes five movies made in the first decade of the 2000s, and examines contemporary challenges facing women across four continents. The opening film, screening Monday, March 1 at 6pm, is the 2007 Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, which follows the harrowing experience of a young woman helping her friend obtain an illegal abortion. Though set in 1987, during Romania's oppressive Communist-era Ceausescu regime, director Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm winner unblinkingly looks at a subject that continues to be of great relevance to women worldwide. 

Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's 2001 film Kandahar, being shown Monday, March 8 at 6pm, turns its eye on an even more brutal environment for women: that of pre-9/11 Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. One woman who escaped the country as a girl returns to find her sister, who has been disabled by a land mine. Shot on the Iran-Afghanistan border, the film uses non-professional actors and a semi-documentary style to establish an authentic portrait of the location and its inhabitants.

Though its plot includes abuse, terminal illness, and murder, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodovar's 2006 Volver, on Monday, March 15 at 6pm, is of an altogether more upbeat character. Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz (whose costumes are generously padded to suggest an Iberian Sophia Loren) stars as Raimunda, a working woman juggling family responsibilities to her daughter, sister, and aunt; when her thought-to-be-deceased mother (Almodovar vet Carmen Maura) returns from the dead, Raimunda really has her hands full.

Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace, screening Monday, March 22 at 6pm, follows a young pregnant Colombian woman (Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno) on her unorthodox journey to the United States, acting as a drug mule with a bellyful of cocaine packets. The film portrays the American Dream beckoning Maria as it has so many others, and also the mixed dividends paid by reality once she arrives in New York. 

To most eyes, the wealthy L.A. women in Nicole Holofcener's Friends with Money would appear to be living the American Dream. And so they are--which of course doesn't guarantee them personal happiness. Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, and Joan Cusack play three of the well heeled women, while Jennifer Aniston co-stars as their downwardly mobile friend.

National Women's Day was established by the Socialist Party of America in 1909, and International Women's Day followed in 1911; March 8 has been the date for the observance since 1913. March was designated National Women's History Month in 1987; the theme for the 2010 celebation is Writing Women Back into History. One thing that Jefferson Market's series is meant to demonstrate is that women's history is an ongoing process.

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