8 Fascinating Talks About Women In Film To Watch This Weekend For Under A Fiver

Courtesy of BFI.
Girlfriends (1978) directed by Claudia Weill.
Since movies have existed, women have been behind the camera making them. In recent years, the names of Chloé Zhao, Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have been scored into the public consciousness as they break cinematic ground with their blockbuster offerings. Yet still the stats tell on themselves: women, in particular those behind the scenes, remain massively underrepresented in the film industry. 
Studies have found that across 3,452 films in production in the UK between 2003 and 2015, only 14% of all directors and 7% of all cinematographers were women. Just 1% of all directors and 0.3% of cinematographers were women of colour.
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Driving the conversation for change since 2018 is BFI’s Woman with a Movie Camera summit: a day of talks, activism and celebration of women’s contribution to film, held at London’s cultural epicentre, Southbank.
With the film industry hit heavily by the pandemic, this weekend’s 2021 summit will focus on revitalisation, rebuilding and throwing open film and TV industry doors. The summit runs over two days and is completely online so anyone in the UK can watch all of the panels with one ticket purchase. You don’t even have to get up from your sofa to soak it all in.

With more than 20 groundbreaking panels and Q&As about women in film to choose from, we’ve narrowed down the essential talks to watch this weekend.

Film TikTok Panel

Not just viral dances, mini comedy skits and outrageous beauty trends, TikTok is paving a real space for innovative and accessible female film discourse. From scene breakdowns and character observations to supercuts and fan edits, four ‘Film TikTok’ creators with swiftly expanding followings talk about their work. The future of film criticism? Head this way.

Reclaiming Jennifer's Body

From box office flop to celebrated violent feminist tale, we love to see the journey Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody’s now-cult classic has taken. In 2009, a combination of marketing fails and knee-jerk misogyny towards the women at the helm of Jennifer’s Body meant that the film and its lead – man-eating demon Megan Fox – were brutally trashed in the media. Now, in the #MeToo era, it is a rape revenge, queer allegory that feels right on time, alluding to messages of male abuse, empowerment and accountability. A panel of film critics and culture writers analyse the unexpected reevaluation of the horror and discuss the potential for reclaiming other works. 
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Intimacy Co-ordinator Panel

Every other day Twitter is awash with retrospective revelations around abuse of power on sets or during auditions. As leading television shows such as I May Destroy You, Normal People and Bridgerton navigate uncharted territory when it comes to intimacy on screen, intimacy co-ordinators now have an essential role in making a film or television set a safe and comfortable place for everyone. Here, four of the leading UK figures come together. 

The Rise and Fall of the Girl Boss

There was a time, circa 2014, where the glittering pop-feminist term du jour #GirlBoss was haphazardly flung around in pretty much every work and social situation. Fast-forward to 2021 and it’s the cultural archetype everyone loves to hate. A panel of culture writers and film critics dissect its fall from grace and its recent controversial iterations in film and TV, such as Cruella and I Care a Lot.

Telling Women's Stories Responsibly: EastEnders Domestic Violence Panel

Shocking statistics that came to light at the beginning of the pandemic exposed increased reports of domestic abuse around the world as social isolation and quarantine measures came into force. Kate Oates, the head of continuing drama at BBC Studios, shares her experiences of working on the harrowing EastEnders storyline in which character Chantelle Atkins was killed by her abusive husband during the pandemic, and talks responsible storytelling, in particular how the team worked directly with Women's Aid on the script.

Q&A with Girlfriends director Claudia Weill

Fan of Girls, Frances Ha, Broad City or just about any film and TV show about young women in their 20s trying to find their way? Then it’s important to pay homage to Girlfriends (1978), the iconic portrayal of female friendships from American director Claudia Weill. The landmark film is being re-released in UK cinemas, including BFI Southbank, from 23rd July.
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Invisible Women present The Future Is: Female (Film Collectives)

The brainchild of Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger, Invisible Women is a collaborative project which champions the work of female filmmakers who have been overlooked, uncredited or left out of the history of cinema. For the talk, it’s all about film collectives, from lesser known early networks of female filmmakers at the birth of cinema through the second wave collectives of the swinging '60s, the feminist activist workshops of the 1980s and the riot grrrl VHS collectives of the '90s, right up to the present.

How to Heal Cinema

The #MeToo movement has shown the world that the culture of male violence towards women is a tale as old as time, ingrained within our society, cinema's culture and our own bodies and stories. In this session, Gaylene Gould of The Space To Come (a company creating transformative projects) and Mia Bays of Birds Eye View (a UK charity that centres the female perspective in film) will host a live conversation-workshop exploring ways that cinema and its workers can begin to heal from the trauma.
BFI Woman with a Movie Camera Summit powered by Jaguar will take place online from 17th to 18th July 2021. Weekend pass £5 (£3 for ages 25 & under)

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