Interview with As Good as You Star, Laura Heisler. By Kim Carr

Laura Heisler

Laura Heisler is a theater, film, and television actress. She has appeared in many Off-Broadway productions as well as television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, The Americans, and Madame Secretary. In 2015, she was cast as the lead in the feature film As Good as You, where she portrays a woman who struggles with grief after the death of her wife. The film was released in LA theaters on June 9.

Kim Carr: Please tell us about yourself. 

Laura Heisler: I’m an actor, born in Chicago, and raised in Bethesda, MD, outside DC. I was a New York theater actor for many years, before moving to LA for a spell, doing more television work. My husband and I recently moved back to the East Coast. I’m also a mom to two wondrous little boys: a two-and-a-half-year-old and an eleven-month-old. I was actually pregnant with my first son while I was shooting As Good as YouContinue reading

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Interview with As Good as You Director, Heather de Michele. By Kim Carr

Heather de Michele

Heather de Michele, a former New Yorker, cofounded  Lesbian Pulp-o-rama, a sketch comedy troupe that performed live shows in New York.  She went on to produce and direct a variety of film genres including commercials, web series, and shorts before venturing into feature films.   Now based in Los Angeles, de Michele’s first feature, As Good as You, has won best LGBT feature at the Hollywood International Film Festival.  It was released in LA theaters and on iTunes on June 9.

Kim Carr: Please tell us about yourself.

Heather de Michele: Hey, Kim! Okay! I am a theater director and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with my wife (Lisa in As Good as You) and our two awesome daughters. Continue reading

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As Good as You (2015). Reviewed by Kim Carr

Jo (Laura Heisler) and Jamie (Bryan Dechart) during their interrogation by Dr. Berg (Annie Potts) in As Good as You (Off-Chance Productions and Tanky Productions, 2015)

In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare writes: “Everyone can master a grief but he who has it.”  This summarizes the plot of Heather de Michelle’s film As Good as You (2015).  The audience watches the protagonist Jo (Laura Heisler) attempt to master her grief after the death of her wife Amanda.  Her friends offer support, but she proceeds to alienate them, one by one, until she is forced to reconcile her past with her present. Continue reading

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Interview with Blake Atwood, Author of Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic (Colombia University Press, 2016). By Chamberlain Staub

Reform Cinema in Iran: Film and Political Change in the Islamic Republic by Blake Atwood (2016) is a book that shines a detailed light on Iranian sociopolitical constructs and the media that aided the shift of these ideals. Although the author has published in academic journals, this is Atwood’s first book. He is fluent in Persian and his knowledge of the language and the politics of Iran is supported by his field visits to the country, along with his obvious passion and in-depth research. In his book, Atwood discusses reform movements linked to filmmakers and cinema, and their power to influence and instigate change. He provides a grand overview of a transitional time for Iran and film itself but focuses his ideas of Iranian politics and cinema primarily within the nine-year timeframe of Mohammed Khatami’s presidency, from 1997 to 2005. Atwood discussed his work with me for Film Matters via email in spring 2017.

Chamberlain Staub: To start off, what else should we know about you and your work?

Blake Atwood: My work explores the intersection of cinema, technology, and politics in the Middle East, and I have published extensively on media practices Iran and Lebanon. I believe that we need to globalize our understanding of film history, and in order to do that, we have to study languages, cultures, and histories outside of the economic flows of North America and Europe. Why should we understand the advent of sound technology, for example, through The Jazz Singer [1927] and the Hollywood studio system, rather than thinking about what the transition to sound meant in an Iranian context or an Egyptian one? The Persian language is really crucial to the work I do, because it gives me access to movies that aren’t represented by international distribution companies and also allows me to find and read historical sources that have not been translated. As far as what you need to know about me, I think my Instagram profile says it all: film historian/donut artisan.  Continue reading

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The Boss Baby: A Surrealist Tour de Force That Reconciles Capitalism and Love. Reviewed by Daniel Spielberger

The Boss Baby (DreamWorks Animation, 2017)

In a recent Fresh Air interview with Alec Baldwin, Terry Gross welcomed the fifty-nine-year-old star, “First things first, congrats on The Boss Baby.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this opening — a title like The Boss Baby (2017) solicits mockery, memes, and ironic engagement, not a serious, engaging panel discussion hosted by Terry’s colleague David Bianculli.  The idea of a computer-animated film about a baby played by the deep-voiced poster child of a Hollywood dynasty is absurd. Its trailer builds up to the punch line: a baby gets introduced to his family, the sibling is jealous, and then boom, the baby is played by Alec Baldwin, suggesting the film itself would be one note — the same joke of an adult’s consciousness trapped in a baby’s body over and over again. However, when I watched the film a month later, not only was I surprised, I was moved. Continue reading

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Hollywood Is Everywhere, Melis Behlil, (2016). Reviewed by Zulaika Popal

Melis Behlil, associate professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, takes it upon herself to interrogate the definition of Hollywood, with the perspective and focus on global directors in the twentieth century: “If it was difficult to define Hollywood in the times of Ford or Forman, it became even more challenging in the final decades of the twentieth century, when media industries underwent major changes, particularly in terms of ownership and organization” (27). In other words, in this book, Behlil illustrates the transnationality Hollywood has achieved over time and development. Continue reading

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2017 Judges Found!

Film Matters is happy to report that we have found our three judges for the 2017 Masoud Yazdani Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Scholarship. Many thanks to all who offered! And we look forward to announcing the winner toward the end of 2017 — watch this space!

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Calling All Instructors: Judges Needed

Now that all volume 7 (2016) issues have been released, Film Matters is searching for three judges to determine the winner of the 2017 Masoud Yazdani Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Scholarship. For more information about this award, please see the initial announcement (

If you are a current instructor of film (graduate student, tenured/tenure-track professor, adjunct, etc.) at an institution of higher education, then please think about providing this valuable service to Film Matters and recognizing the dedicated work of an emerging film scholar, as well as his/her mentor and academic department.

All authors whose articles were published in 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 of Film Matters as the result of a peer-review process automatically qualify for consideration. Twenty authors from volume 7 are eligible, representing the following institutions:

  • American University
  • Carleton College
  • Concordia University
  • King’s College London (2)
  • Muhlenberg College
  • New York University
  • Portland State University
  • Simon Fraser University
  • Southampton Solent University (2)
  • University of Florida
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Passau
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Warwick
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Washington and Lee University

Please email Liza Palmer (futurefilmscholars AT as soon as possible, indicating your interest in serving as a judge. Materials and policies/procedures will be provided to the judging board once it is populated. And the board, as a group, will decide whether they want to work anonymously or not.

Thanks, in advance, for your support and promotion of this award, which celebrates not only young film scholars, but also Masoud Yazdani of Intellect.

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FM 7.3 (2016) Has Arrived!

Film Matters is pleased to announce that issue 7.3 is officially out.  It’s our last 2016 issue — and a big one, at that!

Here, you’ll find the following peer-reviewed feature articles:

  • Constructing (Black) Girlhood: Americanization, Assimilation, and Ambivalence by Ouma Amadou
  • Putney Swope and Watermelon Man: Black Replacements of White Character Tropes by John Bennett
  • “The Good, the Bad and the Strudel”: How Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) Manipulates Its Audience with Violence by Sarah E. Beyvers
  • Betraying Dostoevsky: Robert Bresson and the Art of Faithful Adaptation by Christopher LeMaire
  • Dystopian British Films in the Postmodern Era: A Critical Analysis of V for Vendetta and Never Let Me Go by Myrto Nika
  • España Reimagined by Robert Yeagle
  • “Images Are My Memory”: Chris Marker’s Sunless by Nace Zavrl

The latest “Mapping Contemporary Cinema” article:

  • Affairs of the Phone: Indiewood, a Bespoke Future, and Virtual Love in Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) by Donya Maguire

A special dossier on the 2015 New York Film Festival from students at Hendrix College:

  • New York Film Festival Dossier: Introduction by Christian Leus, Connor NewtonAdam Reece, and Dominique Silverman
  • Sweet Dreams: The Power of Compassion and Politics in Cemetery of Splendour (2015) by Christian Leus
  • Cinema’s Right to Tragedy: A Personal Exploration of 9/11’s Inclusion in Thomas Bidegain’s Les Cowboys (2015) by Connor Newton
  • Shared Dreaming by Adam Reece
  • Copy Is Everything: The Power of Communal Memorializing Through Film by Dominique Silverman

The following featurette:

  • Unleashing the Barbaric Yawp: The Elusive Quest for Carpe Diem by Catherine Douglas Moran

An original infographic:

  • How the Trope of Time Travel Is Used in Movies Infographic by Zhanat Tolubaev

As well as book and film/DVD/Blu-ray reviews by:  Abigail Anundson, Jackson CooperConnor HaslamHarsh Mahaseth, Brianna Okamoto, Jordan Parkhurst, Lydia Plantamura, Mina Radovic, Chic Scaparo, Jordan Scharaga, Lesley Alicia TyeKailyn N. Warpole, and Rachel Wassil.

For more information about issue 7.3, please visit Intellect’s website:,id=3261/

Film Matters is always looking for new authors and guest editors.  Please get in touch with us today!

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Filmatique Screens New Asian Voices in May

During the month of May, Filmatique will host a collection of films from New Asian Voices. First films from Peng Fei Song, Hyun-ju Lee, and Eddie Cahyono screen alongside the elegant third feature from Le-Van Kiet.

Though from countries as diverse as China, South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam, common themes pervade these narratives — rapid urbanization, economic hardship, ill-fated love, and the erosion of individual identity. Peng Fei Song’s Underground Fragrance delves into a sprawling subterranean community on the outskirts of Beijing; Eddie Cahyono’s Siti takes place in a small Indonesian beach town. Both, however, explore communities forsaken by society, and the determination of young people to survive by whatever means they can. While both Gentle and Our Love Story explore the vicissitudes of love, the former deconstructs an unequal marriage and the role of religion in contemporary Vietnam while Our Love Story chronicles the fears and jubilations of a first love unfolding amid homophobic attitudes in South Korea.

Filmatique’s New Asian Voices Series assesses the social, political and cultural landscape of contemporary Asia through some of the newest and most exciting voices in its cinema.

May 4 – Underground Fragrance by Peng Fei Song / China, 2015

A doomed romance between two inhabitants of a vast underground labyrinth portrays a little-seen Beijing community’s collective dream — to surface to air. Underground Fragrance provides a dark portrait of rapid urbanization and the consequences of economic stratification in contemporary China. The use of silences and extended, masterfully composed shots lends a haunting, surreal atmosphere to this debut feature, registering Peng Fei Song as a talent to watch.

Underground Fragrance premiered at Venice’s Giornate degli Autori, where it won Best Film, and Chicago where it won Best New Director.

May 11 – Our Love Story by Hyun-ju Lee / South Korea, 2016

Yoon-joo is a timid art student in the midst of preparations for her graduate exhibition.  Ji-soo is a bartender who radiates confidence.  Following a chance encounter at a convenience store they embark on a romance that defies what remain intolerant attitudes toward homosexuality in South Korea. Hyun-ju Lee’s lyrical debut feature explores the nuances of first love between two characters that just happen to both be women.

Our Love Story premiered at San Sebastián, Vancouver, and  Jeonju, where it won the Grand Prize for Best Korean Film.

May 18Siti by Eddie Cahyono / Indonesia, 2014

Siti is a young mother living in Indonesia.  After her husband was gravely injured in a fishing accident, Siti is the sole breadwinner in the household — beachside crab-cracker vendor by day, karaoke entertainer by night. This vivid black-and-white portrait of an ordinary Indonesian woman transforms a symptom of economic hardship — the need to hold two jobs — into a mise-en-abîme of the schizophrenic relationship between a corrupt, oppressive society and its citizens.

Eddie Cahyono’s visually stunning debut feature premiered at Singapore, Hong Kong, Hamburg and Shanghai, where it won Best Screenplay.

May 25Gentle by Le-Van Kiet / Vietnam, 2014

Linh is a Vietnamese woman saved from an arranged marriage by Thien, a well-to-do pawnshop owner.  She is young and curious; he is older, more controlling. Over time Thien’s unsentimental approach to marriage suffocates Linh, who seeks solace in the Church, infuriating her husband even further. Le-Van Kiet’s elegant third feature delves deep into the psychology of its characters, deconstructing a marriage that was doomed from the start.

Gentle premiered at Busan, Rotterdam and Warsaw.

*Filmatique’s new streaming service introduces films that are socially, culturally, or politically relevant to audiences — often for the first time. The ultimate movie lover’s dream online movie site.

Filmatique is available to US audiences for $4.95/month, with a 30-day free trial. There is a rotating library with 24 films: each week, a new film comes in.

In April, Filmatique emphasized its collection on Post-Soviet cinema, in May it is exploring New Asian Voices, and in June will showcase cinema from Brazil.

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