Review: ‘Miss Representation’

The ideas are unimpeachable but the execution a tad didactic in "Miss Representation."

The ideas are unimpeachable but the execution a tad didactic in “Miss Representation,” a hard-hitting documentary study of rampant sexism in U.S. media and society. With mixed results, actor-turned-filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom periodically turns the camera on herself in a bid to lighten the pic’s heavy load, which includes a useful barrage of stats that speak to the shameful objectification and disempowerment of American females on- and offscreen. An admirable work of media literacy education that may well preach to the converted at fests, “Miss Representation” stands to have its greatest impact in classrooms and via cablecast.

Only 7% of mainstream film directors and 17% of U.S. Congresspersons are women, the docu points out. Interviewees augment these and other statistics with personal stories of struggling to break a glass ceiling too many think no longer exists. Pic is impressively unsparing in holding the heads of media congloms to account, and its points are well annotated through grueling montages of misogynistic American film and TV. Alas, Newsom’s relentlessness runs the risk of alienating some of those who could be swayed by the film’s forceful arguments.

Miss Representation

Docu

Production

A Girls' Club Entertainment production. Produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Executive producer, Regina Kulik Scully. Co-producer, Julie Costanzo. Co-executive producers, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Geralyn Dreyfous. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Written by Newsom, Jessica Congdon.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Svetlana Cvetko, John Behrens; editor, Congdon; music, Eric Holland; music supervisor, Andrea von Foerster. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 27, 2011. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Katie Couric, Devanshi Patel, Jennifer Pozner, Jennifer Todd, Jehmu Greene, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Maddow, Paul Haggis, Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Cho, Condoleeza Rice, Catherine Hardwicke, Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Lisa Ling.

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