2015 Top 5 strong women in Film
Inspired by this year’s BFI London Film Festival, which opened with the anticipated feature film Suffragette and which festival director Claire Stewart proclaimed is ‘The Year of the Strong Female,’ we decided to bring you our top picks for strong women in film. And we had a lot to choose from- 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 are being made about women and by women. (For more information on Met Film School, request a free prospectus here.)
Haven’t got time to make your way through 46 pieces of cinema? Make sure that you don’t miss the 5 below:
Beginning with the Opening Gala Film, directed by Sarah Gavron (a Met Film School advisory Board Member), Suffragette is a modern masterpiece. Choosing to focus on the story of the working class ‘foot-soldiers’ in the emerging feminist movement as they fought for the right to vote, screenwriter Abi Morgan hits the nail on the head in presenting the hostile and often violent plight against women struggling for a voice. In placing the film’s narrative voice with working class women, Gavron makes a period film seem relevant. When speaking to Gavron about the film, she told us; that “the story compelled me because it seemed to really chime with the 21st century with so many issues being still timely; not only how important it is to vote and how hard people fought for that vote, but also reminding us that we still have a long way to go around the world, where women are still fighting for basic human rights.” Read more from her exclusive interview with us here.
Suffragette is out in cinemas now.
He Named Me Malala
The real coup of this year’s BFI London Film Festival is the Documentary special presentation of He Named Me Malala, an intimate portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize- winning teenage activist who, after standing up for her right to an education, was targeted by the Taliban and shot on the bus to school in Pakistan. As the world held their breath, Malala battled to survive the gunshot to the left side of her head, which drove tiny pieces of skull into her brain. Inspired by the autobiography I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim looks at the events leading up to the shooting, and the extraordinary repercussions on both the life of Malala and her family. What Davis has managed to achieve with this remarkable film is to bring a story of real heroism within our lifetime to the big screen in an honest but accessible way. With this closeness to Malala, the cameras are seeing her world behind the eyes of the media to answer the question: Just who is Malala? Immersed in her new life in the UK, we watch as Malala studies for her GCSEs, deflects questions about potential boyfriends (in one of the sweetest, stand-out scenes of the film) and talk about missing a home that she isn’t sure she can return to.
He Named Me Malala is out in UK cinemas in November 2015.
Carol is a deeply powerful and emotionally honest story of the romance between two New Yorkers, Carol and Therese (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) who courageously defy the suffocating conformities of mid-century America. An absolutely sublime feature film from Todd Haynes, Carol depicts 1950s Manhattan in a dreamy, ethereal glow; Cocktails before dinner, dappled winter sunlight streaming across the city and a tender love story unfurling after a chance encounter at an uptown department store. Carol, Cate in arguably her most brittle but glamorous role yet, is about to go through a divorce and bitter legal battle to keep custody of her daughter, when she meets Terese, a young shop worker. Their chemistry crackles with electricity, the romance sweeping the narrative along with the giddy, new-found air of fearlessness felt by both characters. Haynes subverts the power of the female gaze in a film which aptly comes to symbolise not only the trappings of the post-war America ideal but also that of social oppression throughout the world today.
Carol is out in UK cinemas in November 2015.
Grandma is the recent Sundance darling starring Lily Tomlin as Elle, the hippy, foul-mouthed and hilarious septuagenarian, in what is arguably the most satisfying casting of the year. Still reeling from the death of her long-time partner Violet, and in the process of breaking up with much younger new girlfriend Olivia, feminist poet Elle’s defences are at an all-time high. What she really doesn’t need is her 18-year old granddaughter Sage turning up with her own drama; she’s pregnant and can’t afford to have an abortion. The pair embark on a road trip through LA in the search for the much-needed cash, which gives them just enough time to confront both their demons and each other. Displaying a lightness of touch, along with a fair dose of insight, About A Boy director Paul Weitz has crafted a supremely enjoyable, consistently surprising road movie which will make you laugh out loud.
Grandma is out in UK cinemas in December 2015.
The Lady in a Van
Quintessentially British and deliciously funny, the cinematic treatment of the much-loved play by Alan Bennett, The Lady in a Van, is a welcome addition to the London Film Festival. Dame Maggie Smith is unabashedly brave, wilful and witty as Miss Shepherd, the Lady wreaking havoc on Bennett’s life (it’s based on a true story believe it or not!) but a tentative friendship is shared between the two characters as Bennett begins to draw parallels between Miss Shepherd and his mother, even admitting that ‘these old women seem to be my niche.” Women are indeed his forte, as made evident by Bennett’s early works- including the infamous Talking Heads monologues which feature within this film, but in this piece, Bennett truly excels. He creates a protagonist of such extreme complexity that both he and the audience have the fun of attempting to piece together Miss Shepherd’s life. A pianist, former nun, a vagrant with the unmistakable air of nobility, Miss Shepherd is treated, nonetheless, with a graceful humanity, a character who will stick with you, much like it did with the residents of Gloucester Crescent.
The Lady in a Van is out in UK cinemas in November 2015.
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