Jan Lisa Huttner

Jan Lisa Huttner

Huttner in 'Jane Addams' costume, September 2010
Born December 10, 1951
Newark, New Jersey, USA
Occupation Film Critic/Feminist Activist

Edwin Huttner

Helen Hecht Huttner
Awards AAUW-Illinois 2012 Agent of Change

Jan Lisa Huttner (born December 10, 1951) is an award-winning American film critic, journalist and activist. Huttner has authored columns for prominent publications, including the Huffington Post, and is the author of a blog, "The Hot Pink Pen," which is devoted to reviewing films by women filmmakers. She is also the author of a book, “Penny’s Picks: 50 Movies by Women Filmmakers 2002-2011.”

An outspoken advocate for women artists, particularly in cinema, Huttner conducts interviews with prominent female screenwriters and directors with the goal to heighten the exposure of female filmmakers. She is also known for her role in the inception of the grassroots WITASWAN (Women In The Audience Supporting Women Artists Now) initiative and for her work as a main proponent of Jane Addams Day, which was officially adopted by the State of Illinois on December 10, 2007.

Early life and career

Jan Lisa Huttner was born on December 10, 1951 at the Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Her family moved to Livingston, New Jersey in 1960, where Huttner completed high school.[1] Huttner received her B.A. from St. John’s College in 1973 and subsequently earned two master's degrees in Psychology: one from Harvard University and another from the University of Chicago.[2]

While working on her Ph.D. at University of Chicago, Huttner took a part-time job at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she was eventually asked to serve as Coordinator of Training for one of Center's first large computer conversions. For nearly 20 years, Huttner traveled the United States working as a healthcare computer system consultant, before turning to a new career as a film critic and feminist activist in 2002.

Film criticism

Inspired by her education, Huttner examines films from a feminist point of view, often breaking films down into a political perspective.[3] In late 2008, Huttner made international headlines when she launched an online campaign questioning the Golden Globe Nominations for the film Slumdog Millionaire. Though widely recognized as a Danny Boyle film, Indian casting director Loveleen Tandan had been asked by Boyle to step up from her casting director duties, ultimately ensuring authenticity of the film’s sequences set in India. For her efforts she received the highly unique credit of “Co-Director: India”. However the film’s Best Director Golden Globe nomination (and all subsequent award nominations) solely recognized Boyle, which Huttner felt was unfair. Tandan distanced herself from the campaign and claimed she had no interest in sharing the nomination with Danny Boyle. Huttner stated that she respected Tandan's opinion, but felt the campaign was important because it exposed the rarity of recognition for female directors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[4]

In late 2011, Huttner published her first book. “Penny’s Picks: 50 Films by Women Filmmakers 2002-2011”, a compilation of 50 of Huttner’s reviews from various publications. The book focuses on her top-rated films that involve female screenwriters and directors.

In September 2014, Huttner published her first eBook Tevye's Daughters: No Laughing Matter[5] to honor the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roofs' Broadway debut. Huttner’s eBook examines the “synergies” that account for Fiddler on the Roof's' extraordinary longevity, its unexpected success, and its continued resonance today. Huttner discusses how the creators of Fiddler on the Roof were participants in a Great Conversation about women’s rights, that spanned thousands of years, from the original compilation of the Hebrew Bible to the present day. The books chapters are arranged in order of famous fictional daughters: Sholem Aleichem’s daughters (“Yiddish Tevye”), Joseph Stein’s daughters (“Broadway Tevye”), Mr. Bennet’s daughters (Pride & Prejudice), Zelophehad’s daughters in the Book of Numbers, Solomon Rabinowitz’s daughters, and the Earl of Grantham’s daughters (Downton Abbey).[6] Huttner also examines the complexities of Jewish “tradition” and how the creators of Fiddler on the Roof—all of whom were Jewish—dramatized traditions having grown up in a syncretic American world.

WITASWAN and International SWAN Day

Huttner also played a key role in the creation of the grassroots Internet movement known as WITASWAN ("wit-uh-swan"), an acronym for Women In The Audience Supporting Women Artists Now. Huttner was inspired to begin the movement in 2002, after reading an article in the New York Times, [7] which focused on “The Celluloid Ceiling,” a term coined to describe the disproportionately smaller percentage of women in the film industry compared to men. The article implied that fewer women worked in the film industry because they had sidetracked themselves with things like motherhood and domestic life.[7] In response to the article, Huttner collaborated with members of the American Association of University Women to create an initiative to push more female filmmakers to the forefront, by energizing female moviegoers and alerting them to the presence of female filmmakers throughout the world. From the collaboration with AAUW, WITASWAN was born. The initiative also spawned a holiday organized by WomenArts, called International SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now), which has been annually celebrated worldwide since March 30, 2008.[8]

Role in Jane Addams Day

Huttner was among those in the Illinois chapter of the AAUW to throw their support behind an effort to recognize Jane Addams with an official holiday. The effort began in 2005, when several 8th grade students from Dongola, IL sought to give Jane Addams an official holiday. The Illinois chapter of the AAUW supported the effort and encouraged the students to lobby for the holiday to be officially recognized by the state.[9] In May 2006, then-governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation officially declaring December 10 “Jane Addams Day”,[9] making her one of the first women to have a commemorative day in the entire United States.[9]

Huttner also successfully campaigned for the Louise Bourgeois’ commemorative Addams sculpture series “Helping Hands” to be removed from storage. Badly damaged since their original 1993 unveiling, the Helping Hands were re-created and are now on display near the Clarke House Museum.

Affiliations and awards

In addition to the American Association of University Women, Huttner has been a member of a number of organizations dedicated to feminism, film criticism, and journalism. [10] In her role as an activist, Huttner was named one of "One Hundred Women Making a Difference in the 90s" by Today's Chicago Woman. She has received Silver Feather Awards (aka Writer of the Year) on three separate occasions from the Illinois Woman's Press Association.[11] In 2005, she also received a first place certificate for "Best News Writing for the Web" from the National Federation of Press Women.


  1. Huttner, Jan. "LHS Class of 69". Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  2. "Jan Lisa Huttner". Shesource.org. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  3. Gold, Marion. "Jan Lisa Huttner A bio of an award–winning film critic, author and feminist activist whose goal is to mobilize audience support for creative women in all media" (PDF). films42.com. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  4. Jurgensen, John. "The Co-Pilot Of Slumdog Millionaire". The New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  5. http://www.amazon.com/Tevyes-Daughters-No-Laughing-Matter-ebook/dp/B00NQDQCTG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8 Tevye's Daughters: No Laughing Matter
  6. "Amazon.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  7. 1 2 Kennedy, Dana. "FILM A Frustrating Sisterhood". The New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  8. Huttner, Jan. "SWAN". Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 Huttner, Jan. "AAUW-Illinois Applauds New State Day Honoring Jane Addams". Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  10. 'harveycritic', moderator (November 23, 2008). "MEMBERS OF NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE". nyfco.proboards.com. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  11. "Feminist Film Critic Wins Top State Honor Plus National Recognition" (Press release). PRWeb. July 9, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2015.

External links

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