Review: ‘The Honor List’ highlights female high school relationships; the good, the bad, and the embarrassing.

High school relationships, especially among girls, can turn on a dime. Emotions are in high gear which means even small miscommunications can take down friendships. In the new film The Honor List, we discover that what tears us apart can bring us back together.

The summer before high school, Piper, Sophie, Isabella, and Honor are inseparable; by senior year, they barely speak. When tragedy strikes before graduation, the former best friends reluctantly put their differences aside and reunite to complete a forgotten bucket list. THE HONOR LIST explores the complexities of friendships, family, love, loss, and high school.

High school, in general, is no cake walk, but this film delves into the cliche pitfalls of popularity in creative ways. The characters are flawed, as they should be. Each of the four main characters with their own personality and ideas. But it’s in those differences that allow the script to shine. Some of the most enduring relationships I still have from high school are with people with whom I share interests but we could not be more different from one another in most aspects almost 20 years later. True friendship happens over small moments that shape who we become. The Honor List will do well with a Freeform demographic. It’s a bit bold and very honest if not slightly saccharin at times. It would be something I would recommend Moms watch with their kids. While the entire cast has wonderful talent and chemistry, the biggest treat has to be Sasha Pieterse. In her first role since the finale of Pretty Little Liars, Pieterse gives a riveting performance as a young woman surrounded by home turmoil. She has a sharp wit, an edgy artist’s mindset, who is struggling with incidents of body shaming. The role is a complete departure from her previous work. I, for one, am seriously looking forward to more from her.

The Honor List is available digitally and On Demand now. Check out the trailer below:

The Honor List stars lifestyle, beauty vlogger and social media influencer Meghan Rienks (“Freakish”), Karrueche Tran(“Claws”), Arden Cho (“Teen Wolf”) and Sasha Pieterse, who is starring in her first lead role since the hit teen drama “Pretty Little Liars” ended. Directed by Elissa Down, written by Marilyn Fu from a story by Fu and Meghan Rienks, Lionsgate’s Studio L released the film digitally on May 11th. It was produced by Liz Destro, Zoe, Cisely and Mariel Saldana’s Cinestar Pictures, along with PopSugar Films. Over 60% of the crew were women; it is truly a film made by women for women.


10 Feature Narratives by Female Directors on Liz’s watchlist at the Tribeca Film Festival

This year’s festival demographic for female directors has gone up to 46%. That is huge. Here are 10 feature-length narratives by female directors that I am looking forward to catching. Bonus: Most of these films also focus on a female protagonist.

All About Nina
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Eva Vives
Writer: Eva Vives
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, Beau Bridges, Eva Vives
Nina Geld’s passion and talent have made her a rising star in the comedy scene, but she’s an emotional mess offstage. When a new professional opportunity coincides with a romantic one, she is forced to reckon with the intersection of her life and her art

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Daughter of Mine (Figlia mia)
Feature Narrative
Country: Italy, Germany, Switzerland
Director: Laura Bispuri
Writer: Laura Bispuri, Francesca Manieri
Starring: Michele Carboni, Udo Kier, Sara Casu, Alba Rohrwacher, Valeria Golino
On the windswept coast of Sardinia, two women compete for the affections of 10-year old Vittoria: her troubled, alcoholic birth mother Angelica and her doting adoptive mother Tina.

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Dead Women Walking
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Hagar Ben-Asher
Writer: Hagar Ben-Asher
Starring: and Ashton Sanders, June Carryl, Colleen Camp, Lynn Collins, Dot Marie Jones, Dale Dickey
Nine vignettes depict the stages leading to execution for women on death row in this emotional account of the human toll of the death penalty—on both the inmates and those they encounter in their final hours.

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Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Marianna Palka
Writer: Risa Mickenberg
Starring: Gbenga Akinnagbe, David Alan Basche, Alysia Reiner, Anna Camp, Christina Hendricks
In provocateur Marianna Palka’s sharp and unflinching satire, two couples and a surrogate lay bare the complications, contradictions, heartbreak, and absurdities implicit in how we think about motherhood. Click for tickets

Lemonade (Luna de Miere)
Feature Narrative
Country: Romania, Canada, Germany, Sweden
Director: Ioana Uricaru
Writer: Tatiana Ionașcu, Ioana Uricaru
Starring: Ruxandra Maniu, Milan Hurduc, Dylan Scott Smith, Steve Bacic, Mălina Manovici
Mara hopes to move her son from Romania to the U.S. and obtain a green card. But bureaucratic processes give way to authoritarian nightmares in this simmering social drama about American immigration and the institutional corruption of power.

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Little Woods
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Nia DaCosta
Writer: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby, James Badge Dale, Lance Reddick, Nia DaCosta
In this dramatic thriller set in the fracking boomtown of Little Woods, North Dakota, two estranged sisters are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to pay back her mortgage.

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Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Ondi Timoner
Writer: Ondi Timoner
Starring: Mark Moses, McKinley Belcher III, Brandon Sklenar, John Benjamin Hickey, Marianne Rendón, Matt Smith
In the late 1960s, art-school dropout Robert Mapplethorpe moves into the Chelsea Hotel with dreams of stardom. He quickly becomes the enfant terrible of the photography world as the downtown counterculture of 1970s New York reaches its zenith.

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Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Madeleine Sackler
Writer: Stephen Belber
Starring: David Patrick Kell, Boyd Holbrook, Mare Winningham, Theothus Carter, William Fichtner, Jeffrey Wright
An inmate entering the final weeks of a twenty-plus-year sentence must navigate between old loyalties and a new protégé, while he also grapples with the looming uncertainty of his return to life outside bars.

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Slut in a Good Way
Feature Narrative
Country: Canada
Director: Sophie Lorain
Writer: Catherine Léger
Starring: Vassili Schneider, Anthony Therrien, Alex Godbout, Romane Denis, Rose Adam, Marguerite Bouchard
Three 17-year-old girlfriends get a job at the Toy Depot for the holiday season and become smitten with the guys who work alongside them in this charming teen sex comedy.

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Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Emma Forrest
Writer: Emma Forrest
Starring: Scott Caan, Jennifer Grey, Alice Eve, Billy Crystal, Ben Mendelsohn, Lola Kirke, Jemima Kirke, Jamie Dornan
Former writing prodigy Andrea tries not to fall for her one-night stand, while her sister Lisa throws herself into a newfound religious zeal (and the arms of her charismatic rabbi) to avoid the truth about her current relationship in this multi-character romantic drama.

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Review: ‘Keep The Change’ is a laugh out loud funny and charming as hell.

Set in New York, the story centers on the struggles of David as he comes to terms with his own high-functioning autism, when he unexpectedly falls for a quirky and outgoing woman whose lust for life both irks and fascinates him. Keep the Change is based on an award-winning short film developed by Rachel Israel and Brandon Polansky that was inspired by Polansky’s experiences at Adaptations, a community for adults on the autism spectrum.

Keep The Change premiered last year at The Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews and won awards for best U.S. narrative feature and best new narrative director along with a special mention for the Nora Ephron Prize.

This film is a sidesplitting winner. Outside of the documentary genre, we’re not often let into the world of adults on the autism spectrum. Keep The Change follows the beginnings of a relationship between two very different individuals who are ultimately seeking to be accepted and cherished for who they are. The issues of self-love, sexuality, class, are addressed in endearing and tongue-in-cheek ways. Newcomers and leads Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofon have an insane chemistry. The two appear to be polar opposites making their banter all the more entertaining. Any time you pit a glum and cynical individual against an outgoing and seemingly innocent one, interesting things are bound to happen. The dialogue is biting, witty, and oftentimes offensive, keeping the viewer on their toes and thoroughly amused. Writer/director Rachel Israel has given us a true gem. This unique romcom will undoubtedly charm the pants off of you and teach you some much-needed tolerance.

Kino Lorber will open the film in New York on March 16th at the Quad Cinema, in Los Angeles on April 20th at Laemmle Town Center and Laemmle Royal Theatre followed by a national rollout.

Keep The Change stars newcomers Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofon. Written and directed by Rachel Israelthe film also stars veteran actress Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”), Tibor Feldman and non-professional actors with Autism, Nicky Gottlieb and Will Deaver.