suffragette film
7 October 2015

London Film Festival opens with focus on women in film & world premiere of ‘Suffragette.’

By Cassio | Categorised in News, Film Festival Diary, Industry Interviews, Film News

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This year’s BFI London Film Festival will open tonight with the anticipated feature film Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep and directed by Sarah Gavron, who is also an active member of the Met Film School advisory board.  This year the festival has turned it’s focus to women in film, with an unprecedented 46 of the feature films on the programme directed by a female.  This is a hugely exciting time for the festival and a significant step forward for the wider creative industries.

With 45% of our student body being female, we wanted to find out more about the kinds of films that women are making right now.  Suffragette, recognised by the fact that women are demanding equality within practical roles in the screen arts, boasts a leading cast of women and crew. We heard from Sarah and the film’s screenwriter Abi Morgan about their experience of getting this important film made and what the project means to women in the industry.

Abi Morgan noted that “Trying to make a film with a cast of females who aren’t being funny or romantic is really difficult.”  Sarah agreed with Abi in terms of having to push for this project to be made over a number of years, but finally gaining her perfect cast who worked collaboratively to make this project happen.  Indeed, Carey Mulligan’s passion for women’s rights (she currently is an ambassador for War Child), made her the perfect fit for the protagonist of the film, a working class mother from London’s East End, learning to stand up for her rights through meeting the Suffragette campaigners.   Carey suggested re-writes of specific dialogue to reflect the struggle that women faced, and to highlight the fact that although some of the women acted radically, asking for the vote was not a radical question.

Sarah’s position on our advisory board helps to determine the role that education takes within the screen arts, and within the industry, encouraging women to enter more practical roles on set.  Here is what she had to say about her experience making this film:

Sarah Gavron on Suffragette:

The film was 10 years in the making.  

It’s never easy to make a film but this was especially hard.  Very fortunately we had champions throughout the industry who believed in the project, and that’s why it’s exciting to be part of the creative process right now.

The statistics of women working in the industry are still so bleak.

It’s baffling to me. There are 46 films directed by women in this festival and an appetite for female-focused narrative in cinema.  I feel hopeful.

It took a long time to get women into the history books.

It had to be a female team of creatives to bring this story to the screen.  It has to become less about the ‘women’s history’ or story, and more about it simply being ‘history.’

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