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Maya Deren was a Ukrainian-born American experimental filmmaker and important promoter of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet, lecturer, writer, and photographer. Her film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) has been one of the most influential experimental films in American cinema history. Through creative editing, distinct camera angles, and slow motion, the surrealist film depicts a world in which it is more and more difficult to catch reality. In 1990, Meshes of the Afternoon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", going into the registry in the second year of voting. In 2015 the BBC named the film the 40th greatest American movie ever made.
Chloé Zhao is a director, producer and screenwriter.Her debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), premiered at Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and earned a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. Her second feature film, The Rider (2017), was critically praised and received nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director. Both films used a cast of non-actors who lived at the filming location.Zhao’s next film Nomadland (2020) was shot over four months traveling the American West in an RV with many actual nomadic workers.The film received critical acclaim and international recognition winning many awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and numerous Best Picture awards. Zhao won awards for directing at the Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and British Academy Film Awards; at each she was the second woman to win. Earning four Academy Award nominations for the film, Zhao won both Best Picture and Best Director, becoming the second woman in history to win and the first non-white woman to win the category. Variety reported that with "34 awards season trophies for directing, 13 for screenplay and nine for editing, Chloe Zhao [has become] the most awarded person in a single awards season in the modern era."Zhao directed the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals, slated for release in November 2021. Zhao is also tackling the classic Universal monster Dracula, as the writer, producer and director of a new take on the character in the vein of a futuristic sci-fi western.
// Photo by Pat Martin
Ekwa Msangi <a class='bp-suggestions-mention' href='https://nycwomenfilmmakers.org/members/ekwapics/' rel='nofollow'><noscript><img src=
Mila Kunis is a Ukrainian actress and producer. At age nine, Kunis started taking acting classes, and landed a Barbie & Lisa Frank commercial.In 1998, Kunis was cast as Jackie Burkhart in the Fox sitcom That '70s Show. Famously, Kunis, who was 14 at the time, told the casting directors she would be 18 but did not say when. Though they eventually figured it out, the producers still thought Kunis was the best fit for the role, running for eight seasons. She won two consecutive Young Star Awards as Best Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series in 1999 and 2000 for her performances. In 1999, Kunis replaced Lacey Chabert in the role of Meg Griffin on the animated sitcom Family Guy, and was nominated for an Annie Award in the category of Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production in 2007.Kunis's breakout film role came in 2008, playing Rachel in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She gained critical acclaim for her performance in the psychological thriller Black Swan (2010), where she received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress, and nominations for the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other major films include the action films Max Payne (2008) and The Book of Eli (2010), the romantic comedy Friends with Benefits (2011), the fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) as the Wicked Witch of the West, and the comedies Ted (2012), Bad Moms (2016) and its sequel, A Bad Moms Christmas (2017).In 2017, she contributed a piece to the memoir Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America. So what six words did Kunis think best encapsulate the immigrant experience? “A better life for our children.”In 2020, Kunis co-starred with Glenn Close in the film Four Good Days. Deadline Hollywood stated Kunis was "a revelation" in the role, & The Chicago Sun-Times concluded her performance "represents the finest work she has done”.
// Photo by Michael Tran
Margot Robbie is an Australian actress and producer. She has received nominations for two Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and five BAFTA Awards. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017 and she was ranked among the world's highest-paid actresses by Forbes in 2019.
With the aim to produce more female-driven projects, Robbie and her  husband Tom Ackerley started their own production company LuckyChap Entertainment. Their first release was Craig Gillespie's sports black comedy I, Tonya, based on the life of figure skater Tonya Harding, played by Robbie. She received numerous accolades for her performance, including nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics' Choice Movie Award, all for Best Actress.
In 2019, she starred as Sharon Tate alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's comedy-drama Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Robbie being Tarantino's "first and only choice" to play the late actress.
Robbie became the first person to portray DC Comics villain Harley Quinn in live-action when she signed on to David Ayer's 2016 superhero film Suicide Squad alongside an ensemble cast. Preparing for six months before the role, she performed a majority of her own stunts in the film. In 2020 she reprised the role of Harley Quinn in Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey. Determined to make a female ensemble action film, she pitched the idea for the film to Warner Bros. in 2015. Robbie spent the subsequent three years developing the project under her production company, making a concerted effort to hire a female director and screenwriter. Robbie will next reprise the role of Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad (2021).
She is also set star in a live-action Barbie film co-written by partners Greta Gerwig (also directing) and Noah Baumbach, in David O. Russell's untitled film, and in Damien Chazelle's Babylon.
@Lupita_Nyongo is a Kenyan-Mexican actress, producer and writer.
While working professionally, she pursued a master's degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama, where she won the Herschel Williams Prize for "acting students with outstanding ability”.Immediately after her graduation, she starred as Patsey in Steve McQueen's biographical period drama 12 Years a Slave (2013). Nyong'o was nominated for several awards for her performance, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, including Best Supporting Actress, which she won. She was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the sixth black actress, the first African actress, the first Kenyan actress, and the first Mexican to win the Oscar.Nyong'o made her Broadway debut as a teenage orphan in the play Eclipsed (2015), for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Nyong'o's career progressed with her role as Nakia in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Black Panther (2018) (the eleventh highest-grossing film of all time), & her starring role in Jordan Peele's critically acclaimed horror film Us (2019) where she won a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress.Aside from acting, Nyong'o supports historic preservation. Nyong'o has also written a children's book named Sulwe (2019), which became a number-one New York Times Best-Seller. In 2019, Nyong'o narrated the Discovery Channel docu-series Serengeti, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Narrator. That same year, Nyong'o was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine, and was named among Africa's "50 Most Powerful Women" by Forbes in 2020.
// Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Congratulations to Julia Ducournau on her historic Palme D'or win at the Cannes Film Fest for her film Titane. She's the 2nd woman to win after the 1993 fest when Jane Campion shared honors in a tie between her The Piano and Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.
// Photo via Getty
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