Elevate Difference


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I knew when I bought my ticket that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps would not be a feminist film. I had an idea of the storyline: Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) returns for Oliver Stone’s modern depiction of the beginnings of the current economic crisis, told through the eyes of Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a young ambitious businessman, and his girlfriend Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gekko’s daughter.

Made in India

Made in India is a documentary about the growing trend of infertile American couples who outsource a surrogate pregnancy to a woman in India. The film follows one such couple, Lisa and Brian, from San Antonio, Texas, who have experienced seven years of infertility. They don’t have a lot of money (“by American standards, anyway,” they say) and are taking their last chance to start a family of their own on by using a “medical tourism” agency based in Los Angeles called Planet Hospital.

Shirley Adams

Interlacing themes of poverty and perseverance in the Cape Flats area of post-Apartheid South Africa, Oliver Hermanus explores the relationship between a mother, Shirley, and her quadriplegic son, Donovan, as he slips into depression after having been shot in his neighbourhood. Having given up her job to care for her son, and having been abandoned by her husband, Shirley struggles to support Donovan’s mental and physical well-being and at the same time take care of herself.

Toe to Toe

Toe to Toe was part of the official selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The story is simple: Jesse and Tosha are both lacrosse players at a Washington, D.C. prep school and although they seem predestined to be rivals, they become the best of friends. Each girl is completely different from each other. Jesse (Louisa Krause) is the wealthy yet lonely and promiscuous daughter of detached parents with Daddy issues.

I Spit On Your Grave

There's very little chance of spoiling anyone with this review. The original I Spit On Your Grave is notorious, if not for its legend then for its lingering controversy, especially amongst feminists. Meir Zarchi, writer and director of the 1978 film, apparently based his simple rape-revenge story on his own experience finding a woman who had been brutally beaten and raped near a park in New York City.

The Two Horses of Genghis Khan

When actor Urna Chahar-Tugchi was growing up, her grandmother showed her the hand-carved neck of an ancient violin—all that was left of a precious family heirloom. On it were a few words from a once-popular song called "The Two Horses of Genghis Khan." "No other song touches the soul of the Mongolian people like this one," Chahar-Tugchi says in Davaa Byambasuren’s powerful documentary, a tribute to cultural legacies called The Two Horses of Genghis Khan.

My Tehran for Sale

Granaz Moussavi’s documentary-style film (winner of an Independent Spirit Award in 2009) is an understated peek inside the contradictory nature of everyday life in Iran. My Tehran for Sale opens with a scene that would probably be familiar to many Westerners: young adults at a rave. Things suddenly take a turn when Iranian moral police raid the barn where the party is being held to arrest and assault party-goers.

The Romantics

Walking in to watch The Romantics, I feared it might be a movie that relies on star power to get by. Valentine’s Day is what came to mind, and even though the level of celebrity of the stars of The Romantics isn’t exactly the same (Katie Holmes and Anna Paquin aren’t quite Julia Roberts and Jessica Alba), I was nonetheless worried.


Winner of the Amnesty International Film Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, Storm is the story of prosecutor Hannah Maynard’s (Kerry Fox) and key witness Mira Arendt’s (Anamaria Marinca) struggle to obtain justice through the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. This docudrama directed by Hans-Christian Schmid derives from the real life story of international criminal prosecutor Hildegard Uertz.

Los Canallas (Podría Ser Peor)

Los Canallas are a jolly group of scoundrels, featured in this film, written, shot, edited and promoted by a gang of enthusiastic Acting and Directing students. These young people make up the very first promotion of the newly minted film program in Ecuador. This strange and stimulating film received third place at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2008, for the best opera prima, and is now available to English-speaking audiences (and well subtitled, be it said in passing).

Easy A

Remember when Superbad was released and everyone was freaking out about what a great teen film it was? Did you wonder why the story didn't include the ways girls break the rules in high school? I did. But the film did have a minor yet interesting female role, Jules, who was made memorable by the candid humor of newcomer Emma Stone. In Easy A, Stone effortlessly tackles her first starring role, and presents a realistic story of teenage identity, friendship, and the challenges of self-discovery.

All of Us

Emily Abt's emotionally stirring documentary, All of Us, takes us not just on a journey from the South Bronx to Ethiopia and back, but to a place deep within ourselves. The film follows Dr. Mehret Mandefro, as she embarks on a mission to uncover the truth behind the startling statistics regarding women of color and HIV infections in the United States. According to the film, African-American females compose approximately 12% of the population, yet according to the 2005 CDC report, a staggering 66 % of this minority accounted for new infections with the virus in the United States.

The Other City

Most cities are comprised of at least two distinct sub-cities, so to speak. It’s particularly appalling that Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital and symbolic of the triumph of democracy, has a higher HIV/AIDS rate than Port au Prince, Haiti or Dakar, Senegal. A one percent infection rate of a city’s population is considered an epidemic; D.C.'s can be estimated between three and five percent.

El Espiritu De La Salsa (The Spirit of Salsa)

I love to dance, but I am not gifted with quick feet. As a teen, this made me a hesitant and awkward dance student. Thankfully, when I discovered African dance, it changed my outlook in many positive ways. In the first year, my intimate class included a grandmother in her seventies and her teenage granddaughter. By creating art through movement together, we also created community and bonds similar to an extended family.

Jack Goes Boating

I had no idea that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had such a devoted fan base. Yeah, he won Oscars for his work in Capote and Doubt and he did liven up overrated stinkers like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Magnolia. Still, I was shocked by how many people streamed into the theatre to see his directorial debut, Jack Goes Boating. Nearly all the chairs in the 600-seat space were filled.

Radical Act

Tex Clark made the documentary Radical Act in 1995. It was originally intended as a snapshot of the rise of cisgender female involvement in indie rock following riot grrrl's and queercore's impact, particularly amongst lesbians and feminist women. After over a decade, Million Movies a Minute is officially releasing it this month.

A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop

I walked out of the screening of A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop feeling vaguely dissatisfied. While the official selection of the 2010 Berlin Film Festival bills itself as a “black comedy thriller [which serves] as an expose of how intense desires can consume humanity,” it neither thrills nor tickles the funny bone.

High Water

In his second full-length documentary, High Water, surf journalist Dana Brown composes a love letter to Hawaii’s North Shore by chronicling the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing big wave competition. Home to the largest rideable waves on the planet and nicknamed “The Seven Mile Miracle," this stretch of sand is the place where legends are made; a natural Mecca for those who worship the sea and a place where one wave can change your life.

A Call Girl (Slovenian Girl)

“Life is just one big disappointment after another,” laments the main character Alexandra in Damjan Kozole’s award-winning film about a Slovenian college student who delves into prostitution. Unfortunately for Alexandra and for viewers, the tone of A Call Girl never ascends much higher that that sentiment. To her small town father, Alexandra seems like a bright, if moody, college student working on her English skills in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana.

Picture Me

There is a moment in Picture Me, a documentary about the fashion industry, where model Sara Ziff’s father recalls hearing his daughter’s look described as the girl next door. The camera closes up on Ziff in a two page Tommy Hilfiger ad. “I guess that depends where you live,” her father quips, flippantly alluding to the exclusive world of high fashion.

Modus Operandi

My younger sisters and I used to tune into Lifetime to laugh at the formulaic (read: bad) movies that were regularly broadcast on that network. While I was watching Modus Operandi, a “comical homage to low budget exploitation-style films of the 1970’s,” I kept wishing my sisters were there with me. We would have been rolling in the aisles. I found the plot to be difficult to follow so I going to quote directly from the synopsis that I received at the screening: “Two briefcases with mysterious contents are stolen from Presidential candidate Squire Parks (Michael Sottile)...

Going the Distance

When I first read about this film in the making, I was psyched. I’m a huge Drew Barrymore fan, and it appeared that finally, a romantic comedy was in the works that presented a more modern interpretation of male female relationships. It looked like it might actually include both sides of the story rather than just a fairy tale version of the woman’s desire to be desired. Mission accomplished… sort of.

Pressure Cooker

In Northeast Philadelphia’s Frankford High School, students swipe IDs to gain access to the cafeteria at lunchtime. They pass through metal detectors. Police greet them after school. Forty percent of their classmates will drop out before senior year. So why are Frankford students showing up at school in the wee hours of the morning to tournée potatoes while a teacher screams at them? Students show up because teacher Wilma Stephenson demands their dedication to culinary arts training, and earns their respect with her expertise and her results.

Quest for Honor

Should the fate of our lives be put in the hands of another human being merely because we are women? The right to feel secure in one’s own body is a basic and fundamental human right that should be employed by all human beings, despite their race, sex, gender, religion, age, and class. Unfortunately, many individuals run the risk of being physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically abused merely for being women.

The Owls

The anticipation for Cheryl Dunye’s latest feature, an experimental narrative entitled The Owls (Older Wiser Lesbian) was high as information about the project has been accessible for some time. The filmmaker and actors belong to the Parliament Film Collective, a matrix of lesbian and new queer cinema creativity. The film cost $22,000 to make, and seems to fit in with the challenge made by Maya Deren to make good affordable films.

The Girl on the Train

Upon watching The Girl on the Train, it may not be immediately obvious that this is based on a real event: the 2004 scandal in which Marie-Leonie Leblanc fabricated an anti-Semitic attack by six Arab youth. In fact, the film’s lead character, Jeanne (Émilie Dequenne), seems like a typical teen in need of inspiration.


Inspired by sports movies like Rudy and The Karate Kid, and presenting smatterings of others like Lucas and Hoosiers, the John Cena vehicle, Legendary is the WWE’s ninth foray into the movie making business. The movie centers on Cal Chetley (Devon Graye), a scrawny fifteen-year-old geek who earns pocket money by farming catfish. He’s sweet-natured, and enjoys a tight bond with his mother (Patricia Clarkson).

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

When I think of the films of Tamra Davis, a smile comes to my face. I think of the giggly afternoons spent with my college roommates watching such treasures as Billy Madison and Half Baked while ingesting whatever substance struck our fancy.

8: The Mormon Proposition

Following the passage of California’s Proposition 8, a bill that constitutionally outlaws gay couples from legally marrying, rage and frustration was concentrated towards the Mormon Church for their supposed role in passing the legislation.

Daniel & Ana

Daniel & Ana is an opinion piece, the film equivalent of an op-ed. While it is a forgone assumption that a film will represent the opinion of its authors and that every film necessarily adopts a particular point-of-view on its subjects, Daniel & Ana endorses a position.