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Introduction to Women Writers Week 2021

Happy International Women’s Day and thank you for joining us this week at RogerEbert.com as we celebrate our annual Women Writers Week. We are pleased to share with you once again a week of reviews and articles all written by female contributors. Collectively, the world felt that 2020 was unlike any other year in our recent history. I personally think that it was only the beginning and that it threw down a gauntlet for change that will reverberate for years to come. How we respond to that challenge may very well depend on how we as women step forward in our roles.

Besides the seismic historic change of electing Kamala Harris as the first woman for Vice President of the United States since the office was established in 1789, women’s roles are evolving in other areas. In the midst of dealing with critical health issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Walgreens chose its first woman president, Rosalind Brewer, making her the only current African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. Janet Yellen was appointed the first female Secretary of Treasury. Three women received Nobel prizes in science: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna in chemistry for their development in gene editing with CRISPR and Andrea Ghez in physics for her work on black holes. Ann Sarnoff became the first woman to head Warner Bros Studio; and Channing Dungey and Pearlena Igbokwe, among others, ascended to positions as department heads. And we even had the first African-American princess marry into the British royal family and then leave it because she didn’t want to lose her voice and the right to be seen and heard as her own person. (Let’s see what Disney does with that story.)

What do we make of these developments and how will our world change as more women assume powers of leadership? Would that we could solve all of the world’s problems this week, but I can promise you a week full of interesting, entertaining and informative essays and reviews. We will hear about a female film critic panel sponsored jointly by Cinema Femme and Cherry Picks; read more in-depth coverage of the Queen’s Gambit and what it is like to be a woman in a male-dominated world; dissect movies about women’s friendships and much more.

In addition to our regular film critics: Nell Minow, Christy Lemire, Sheila O’Malley, Tomris Laffly and Monica Castillo; we will hear from illustrious writers like Farren Smith Nehme, Roxana Hadadi, Carla Renata, Olivia Collette, Jennifer Merin, Joyce Kulhawik, Marya E. Gates, Arielle Bernstein, Justine Smith, Laura Emerick, Susan Wloszczyna, Sarah Knight Adamson, Mary Beth McAndrews, Hannah Benson, Kayleigh Donaldson, Cristina Escobar and Allison Shoemaker. We have also republished work today by Angelica Jade Bastien, Whitney Spencer, Abby Olcese and Katherine Tulich.

So, we thank you for logging on every day this week to see what we have in store for you. And now our Assistant Editor Nell Minow will tell you more about why this week is important for us...

FROM OUR ASSISTANT EDITOR NELL MINOW:

I'm very proud to be the second woman editor at RogerEbert.com, after our CEO and editor in chief Chaz Ebert, and even prouder that we are the only outlet covering the entertainment industry committed to gender balance on our masthead. Our outstanding team of critics is half male and half female, and our critics and contributors reflect other categories of diversity as well. We do not believe that a critic has to be the same race or gender as the filmmakers or the movie's characters. But we do believe that readers are best served—and best challenged and best entertained—by the perspectives of a wide range of people who bring their own lived experience to the films. We will continue to work toward even greater inclusion.

Our annual Women Writers Week, held each year during Women's History Month, highlights the brilliant work that our critics and contributors do and allows us to invite some of our favorite writers from other outlets to bring their insights to our readers. And it gives us an opportunity to guide movie lovers to films they might have overlooked or to a deeper understanding of what they have seen. Our writing this week will include an appreciation of one of the pandemic era's biggest hits, "The Queen's Gambit," and a guide to finding female-directed films online. The issue of "cancel culture" comes up in Olivia Collette's discussion of viewing older films that are offensive by today's standards. And I'm going to write about some of my favorite films about female friendship. All of the reviews published this week will be by women, and we'll be re-publishing some of our favorite work by these writers as well.

A few weeks ago, a reporter asked me why it was important to have more movies made by women. I said, “I've realized so much of the media I consume requires me to translate from the male point of view into something that speaks more directly to me. When I see these movies, I can relax. I don’t have to translate anything.” Often, that applies to writing by women as well. I am thrilled as always to see what the women who are joining us have to say. 

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