Film Unit are dedicating their entire March schedule to female-led cinema, with an incredible programme of exclusively female directed films, plus a whole host of other events in celebration of Women’s History Month. We spoke to their Events Coordinator, Meg Hartman, to find out more.
How did the idea of ‘The F-Word’ programme come about?
It was always our plan to create an event around International Women’s Day, but I was not content with just a week of female-driven programming. Why not programme an entire month of events and film directed by women in order to address the lack of meaningful representation of women both in front of and behind the camera?
Earlier this year, art activist group Guerrilla Girls revisited a campaign they established twenty years ago. Flyering at film festivals and putting up protest billboards back in 1999, the group stated that while women only comprised 9% of American senators, even fewer – only 4% – were working as directors on the top 100 films of that year.
Today, Hollywood is just as bad! As senate fills up with more women (25%), we still see only 4% of the top films directed by women. In twenty years, it seems that very little has changed. The F-Word is part of the ongoing project throughout the film industry for better representation of women.
How did you go about selecting the finest female-directed works to include?
Lots of impassioned discussion and debate! We compiled a list of over sixty new releases and a list of our favourite female-directed classics and then subjected them to our usual selections process, through which films are voted for democratically and fairly.
We’ve ended up with a good variety of films; varying in genre, theme, story, and places of origin. We could have filled an entire semester with our list of female-directed films – but there’s always next year.
Why is it so important for Film Unit to do something like this?
We pride ourselves in being a cinema for everyone. If we are a cinema for everyone, it follows that we must be representative of everyone.
It is important that representations are not tokenistic, but rather meaningful representations of all roles from a diverse background – and this is what we hope we have done with our F-Word programme. This is only the start of it all!
What do you hope to achieve come the end of March?
By the end of March, I’m going to need about three well-earned days in bed! But in all seriousness, we will have screened over twenty films, all directed by women, and will have hosted several incredible events.
Hopefully, we will have encouraged more women and girls to try out skateboarding, roller skating, roller derby, and road cycling through our launch event Women on Wheels (2 March). We will have had a lovely community dinner and film evening at TV Dinners – our monthly collaboration with Foodhall (4 March) – as well as having a good old boogie with Small Decks at our Marie Antoinette afterparty (6 March).
We will have had some fascinating discussion about the issues raised by The Rape of Recy Taylor (8 March) as well as issues of representation after our screening of Born in Flames (13 March). We’ll have chatted to Deborah Haywood about her directorial debut (15 March) and spent a day learning about how to break into the industry as a woman, from the girls who are on the top of their game right now (Women in Film Conference, 30 March). It’s going to be an incredible month.
And finally, who is your personal favourite female filmmaker?
It’s a difficult choice but I have to give it to my girl, Agnes Varda. The real don of the French New Wave, Varda has been making films for decades and at the age of ninety shows no signs of stopping.
She is completely devoted to her artform, consistently experimenting with new techniques and media to capture the world – for all its beauty and ugliness – through her own unique vision. She has made some of the most moving, funny, feisty, feminist films in the world of cinema. I cannot recommend her highly enough.