At Last –
Joins Local Film Critics
by Marion E. Gold
Palmer Contest Coordinator Cecilia Green
presents 2005 “Silver Feather” award.
Chicago - It is the job of the film critic to carefully assess the works that appear on screen - to provide the public with enough objective information to make a decision: "Should I plunk down $7 or more to see this film?,” "Should I get a babysitter, pay for parking…?"
Many of us read more than one review before deciding to see a movie. Some of us have a "favorite" reviewer, someone we really, really trust - who "thinks" like we do.
In a perfect world, we trust that the critic has viewed the "work" from all vantage points - including the qualities of the story line, the script, how the characters are portrayed, and the technical details of lighting, cinematography and music - and whether the overall work might appeal to male or female audiences, or both.
That's in a perfect world. In the world of film critics, there are few women. And in my hometown of Chicago - none of the major news outlets show a woman's name at the top of their Critics' Columns. There's not even a "he says/she says" arts & entertainment duo to be seen (or heard). Unfortunately, for women (and some enlightened men) we are left virtually without a local female critic's voice.
That is, until now!
Enter Jan Lisa Huttner - this year's winner of the coveted "Silver Feather Award" of the Illinois Woman's Press Association, for her movie reviews, filmmaker interviews and articles focusing on the silver screen.
Huttner, and her husband Rich Miller, host the website
FILMS FOR TWO: The Online Guide for Busy Couples
(www.films42.com) which is designed to help couples choose good movies that both men and women will enjoy - so the decision to plunk down $14 or more is a gender-balanced one!
Huttner walked off the stage at the Chicago Athletic Association on May 14th with NINE awards in the annual Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest. Five of her first place awards have been entered by IWPA in the Communications Contest sponsored later this year by the National Federation of Press Women. Huttner's other awards included one 2nd Place, two 3rd Places, and two honorable mentions for her feature articles, film reviews, columns, and interviews for publications such as World Jewish Digest, Women's eNews. JUF News, ReallyGoodFilms.com, and Chicago Woman. (See links below.)
The independent judges of IWPA's contest had these words to say about Huttner's reviews and articles: "Solid & artful," "skillful," "opinionated - interesting," "good detail of [these] women. Liked that you included their work."
As I sat among the applauding audience of men and women in communications, and other award-winners and award-winning high school journalists and their parents, I could not help but feel the pride of knowing that Huttner was about to change the landscape of the male-dominated world of critical film review.
Fledgling women writers now had an example to follow — the curtain was opening on a new stage of opportunity for women.
Does it really make a difference if the reviewer is a man or a woman? If you don’t believe me, ask the thousands of women (and men) who read Huttner's reviews and articles. Better yet! Read her articles yourself.
Marion Gold's award-winning articles on marketing, diversity, career planning and women in the workforce appear in marketing trade journals, and national newspapers and magazines. She is the author of two books: the award-winning "Personal Publicity Planner: A Guide to Marketing YOU," and the nationally acclaimed "TOP COPS: Profiles of Women in Command." "TOP COPS" was endorsed by former Illinois Governor George Ryan, New York Governor George
Pataki, and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. Marion has been featured in Working Woman magazine and included by Today's Chicago Woman in its list of 100 Women Making a Difference. She is a past-president of the Illinois Woman's Press Association. To learn more about Marion and to read excerpts from her books, log on to:
I am truly blessed by all the encouragement
I have received from family and friends since I began my third career, as a writer, in 1999.
Many colleagues cheered me on when I made the difficult decision to leave healthcare consulting, most especially Marc Carter, Karen Geisler, Marilyn Krainen, Mark Lederman, Lucy Newell, and Tracy Singer.
Powerful mentors in various women’s organizations gave me practical advice, most especially Kim
Benziger, Marion Gold, Linda Henning Cohen, Jo Ann Horowitz, Jean Hunt, and Grace
Inspiring new teachers entered my life, most especially Wendy Rohm, Nathaniel Stampfer, and Sandi Wisenberg, as well as wonderful classmates like Joyce Miller Bean, Mary Lou Edwards, Roz Lettvin, Joan Levin and Sara Susmano.
It has been an honor and a privilege to interview &/or correspond with outstanding directors, screenwriters, scholars, and others interested in film. In this long list, the following individuals have made the most profound impact on my work: Sally Heckel, Martha Lauzen, Wendy Lesser, Daniel Mendelsohn, Deborah Dash Moore, Peter Novick, Frank Rich, and June Sochen. I have also worked for some terrific editors, especially Simona Fuma (at the
WORLD JEWISH DIGEST) and Alana Newhouse (at the
FORWARD). The most exhilarating day in the past five years was the day I received a letter from Sheldon Harnick with his home phone number, and the fact that I always describe myself as “born & raised in the heart of Philip Roth country” speaks for itself.
I have a fabulous webmaster, Dan
LaVallie, a super transcriptionist, Dana Sinn, and a lovely and tolerant office assistant, Sara Yono.
Two dear friends live close by: Dorthea Juul smiles through my endless rants and raves, and Elisa Steinberg scrutinizes all my rough drafts. The warm voice that is always just a phone call away belongs to Fran Gragg.
My husband and partner, Richard Miller, is my greatest source of support (of every kind) in this world, and my father, Edwin Huttner, is my champion in the next world.
Then there’s Bart Neuman. At the end of our very first meeting, when he interviewed me for a job in 1986, Bart said: “You’re not remotely qualified for what you say you want to do, but you appear to be a very determined woman.” When he hired me, Bart made my consulting career a reality. Fifteen years later, I was talking to Bart on the phone and wondering aloud if it was too late to start a writing career. “Well,” Bart asked, “Does anyone else have your slant?” By the time we both stopped laughing, the dye was cast!