With 33 percent of the Official Competition films directed by women, the 2017 BFI London Film Festival is set to showcase far more work from female filmmakers than many of this year’s most prestigious film festivals. Annemarie Jacir, the first Palestinian woman to direct a feature film (2008’s Salt of this Sea), is in competition with her urban road movie Wajib, while Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner, an animated film about a girl’s struggles in Afghanistan, will also compete for the title of best film.
While these numbers are still shockingly low, it is worth noting the considerable improvement from last year’s festival. Indeed, although Kelly Reichardt’s drama Certain Women took home the top honour, it was just one of the two female-directed films that screened in the 12-title program.
Over the course of the 12-day event, 25 percent of the feature films screened will be directed by women. Among the headline gala films are Dee Rees’s Mudbound, a searing racial drama set in the Deep South in the 1940s, Lynne Ramsay’s psychological drama You Were Never Really Here and the Billie Jean King dramedy Battle of the Sexes, co-directed by Valerie Faris. Acclaimed British writer/director Sally Potter is also back with her razor-sharp political satire The Party.
While more progress needs to be made, a conscious effort on behalf of the BFI to address this imbalance is a key factor in the more female friendly program, and an important step to ensure that women continue to have their films screened around the world.
The London Film Festival runs from 4-15 October.
© Nicola Freedman (10/3/17) FF2 Media