While there’s obviously still a lot of work to be done in terms of diverse representation in filmmaking I do find it encouraging, when looking at the upcoming film releases for April, to see how many are directed by women. Even five years ago, I highly doubt there were ever 10 female-directed films in total coming out in a month, let alone 10 that look great.
Here are some suggestions for what to look forward to next month.
High Life (April 5)
It would feel wrong to start this list with any other movie when April features the release of a new film from French master Claire Denis. High Life marks Denis’ first filmmaking foray into the English language, and stars Robert Pattinson as an astronaut (!) who finds himself in a rather unorthodox situation out in space. The somewhat befuddled (but mostly positive) response from last fall’s festival circuit only makes me more excited.
Edge of the Knife (SGaawaay K’uuna) (April 5)
Co-directed by Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw, Edge of the Knife (SGaawaay K’uuna) is the first film made solely in the Haida language. (Haida is an endangered language spoken by the Haida people who live in Haida Gwaii, off the coast of British Columbia in Canada.) It tells the story of a Haida man wracked with guilt who begins a supernatural transformation, and it takes inspiration from traditional Haida folklore.
It’s been wonderful to see attention drawn to Edge of the Knife here in Canada, as art made by and about Indigenous people is often vastly underrepresented. I’m not sure what sort of release it will get internationally, but Edge of the Knife opens in Toronto on April 5.
The Wind (April 5)
All I needed to read was the first part of The Wind’s description on Letterboxd: “A supernatural thriller set in the Western frontier of the late 1800’s”. It’s directed by first-timer Emma Tammi, and based solely on its promotion, it’s given me vibes akin to The Keeping Room and Brimstone. That said, female-directed horror films about women often have a very unique feel, and I’m certainly intrigued to see what Tammi has crafted.
Unicorn Store (April 5)
Though Unicorn Store started playing festivals in 2017, I suppose Netflix has picked a strategic time to release this directorial debut from Brie Larson (who also stars in the film). Initial response was a bit mixed, with some critics dismissing the film as too cutesy for its own good. But Larson has proven to be savvy and bold in her role choices as an actress, so it’ll be interesting to see how that will translate for her behind the camera as well.
Little (April 12)
Starring Issa Rae and Reginal Hall, Little looks to follow a long tradition of body swap/age-change comedies like Big, 13 Going on 30, etc. This one following Jordan (Hall), a stressed-out adult who transforms back into her younger self (played by Black-ish’s Marsai Martin). With any luck, it’ll be just the sort of vehicle its leads deserve.
Girls of the Sun (April 12)
Girls of the Sun, from director Eva Husson, played as part of the Official Competition at Cannes last year and finally makes its way to North American theatres this April. Following an all-female Kurdish battalion defending their town from extremists, it looks to be a powerful and harrowing tale of female resistance.
Rafiki (April 19)
Having undergone an extensive battle in her home country of Kenya (where officials at first banned Rafiki for its lesbian content, but ultimately reversed the decision), director Wanuri Kahiu finally gets the opportunity to bring Rafiki to North America in April. It was a favourite on the festival circuit last year and looks to be a must-watch on all fronts.
Fast Color (April 19)
I adored Julia Hart’s debut feature Miss Stevens, and she now returns with what looks to be a low-key sci-fi indie. Starring the wonderful Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Fast Color is about a woman who possesses special powers. This one looks great, though in fairness, I’d probably be jazzed for Hart’s next film no matter what it was.
Little Woods (April 19)
Starring the power pairing of Tessa Thompson and Lily James, Nia DaCosta’s Little Woods earned strong notices out of last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It tells the story of two working-class sisters who’ve taken up illegal practices to earn a living. Trying to leave it all behind them, they find it more difficult than expected to get back on the straight and narrow.
Someone Great (April 19)
Also coming straight to Netflix this month is Someone Great, an ensemble lady-led comedy starring Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, and DeWanda Wise. Coupled with a supporting cast that includes Lakeith Stanfield and Rosario Dawson, there’s certainly going to be a lot of talent on display, if nothing else. This sort of comedy doesn’t always hit, but when it does, you can get something great like Bridesmaids.