Good Things To Happen For Women In Film: September

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe how hectic team BTF have been in the last few weeks. From franticly trying to get to Toronto Film Fest after umpteenth standby flights, to trying to get back from New York after news of a pressure cooker bomb attack. Amid the mayhem of our travels we also delivered another sold out event with a riveting 35mm screening and discussion of Mary Harron’s American Psycho at the BFI, Simran pulled off her first cover feature for Sight & Sound (an interview with Andrea Arnold no less), and Corrina was all up on London Live reviewing films on live TV. But enough about us for now, here’s the other Good Things To Happen For Women In Film for the month of September in a collaborative effort from us both. Corrina & Simran

Women on the Rise at London Film Festival

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For London cinephiles, October is when Christmas comes early as London Film Festival sets up camp in the city. This year’s lineup is another characteristically colossal smorgasbord of films to delight and intrigue audiences of all appetites. But here’s the good news – the female ratio of female directors is up! Of the 245 features, 114 of them are directed, or co-directed, by a woman bringing the figure to 24%. This is a 2% increase from 2015 hopefully signaling a turn in the tide. Need a hand picking a flick? Little White Lies have conveniently published a guide to all the female-directed films of LFF to help you select a winner. 

What’s more, we can’t help but swoon at the female-rich jury judging the Official Competition which sees Chevalier director Athina Rachel Tsangari, Beyond The Lights star Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Suffragette writer Abi Morgan help decide the award-winning films. 

BFI Launch Black Star  

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More good news from the BFI comes thanks to the positively thrilling Black Star season. From October – November, we’ll be spoiled for choice as a deep, diverse and dazzling selection of films, talks and lessons will celebrate, investigate and discuss the superstar talents of so many black actors from yesteryear to modern day. To highlight the depth of female talent within this expertly curated season, there’s biopics aplenty charting the lives of some of our most cherished female singers from Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker, Tina Turner and The Supremes. Plus you can get your kicks with some badass action girls in Set It Off, and Jackie Brown or discover the Oscar-nomination performances of Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones, and see Hattie McDaniel’s performance in Alice Adams – four years before she became the first black female Oscar-winner. Tickets go on sale Oct 4th. Be ready. BOOK. 

DuVernay Doc Talk of the New York Film Festival 

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In 54 years, a documentary has never opened the New York Film Festival. Until now. Step forward Ava DuVernay’s sleeper project The 13th which ended that tradition and caused an eruption of applause as the credits rolled and the lights came up. DuVernay’s feature investigates the mass bias of black men in incarceration and explores the roots of the issue causing much social tension.

At a time when police seem to gun down black men in the USA as quickly as they issue parking tickets, the Selma director’s narrative of the political climate is urgent and crucial, and even more pungent as America brace themselves to elect their next leader.

Speaking to audience, DuVernay discussed Black Lives Matter as a movement not a fad suggesting the uprising is inspiring artists like herself to challenge a bias media;“People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”

Furthering the good news of being a highlight of the festival, is the fact the doc will have a wide and worldwide reach as it is released on Netflix this month. Don’t miss it.

Rounding off this month’s good news is BTF’s Simran with a quick round-up on her time at Toronto Film Festival otherwise fondly known as ‘TIFF’. 

Simran in TO

A Certain Charm

Not ALL of my time in Toronto was spent eating poutine and ogling cute Canadians; I set myself the task of sifting through TIFF’s intimidatingly extensive programme in search of female-centric stories. There were plenty — but the one that’s stuck with me for the longest is Kelly Reichardt’s latest feature Certain Women. Based on a series of short stories, it is a slow and meditative take on women’s work in its varying guises, looking at the lives of three different women in middle America. It’s exciting to see Reichardt capture the otherwise unseen emotional labour expected of women at home, at work and in our personal relationships. Good news for Londoners too, who can catch the film at the London Film Festival on the 9, 12 and 13 October.

andrea arnolTIFF Film Festival Buzz
Print magazines never seem to be precisely in sync with the world around them, so Sight & Sound’s decision to put Andrea Arnold cover of their October issue is actually a September story (though American Honey doesn’t hit UK cinemas until October 14). Not only is it a huge endorsement of one of the UK’s most exciting, inventive and important filmmakers – female or otherwise – but the interview/cover feature was written by your truly! The film, which has screened in Cannes and Toronto has received mixed reviews from international critics, but for my money it’s as alive and thrilling as anything I’ve seen this year and Arnold’s most ambitious piece of work yet. 
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