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The Female Gaze

Inspirational and diverse works of great cinema; all originating from women with a movie camera.

Behind every great female-directed film is a female director.

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The Female Gaze
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View Face

Face 1997 18

Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone are members of a gang of thieves that falls apart when a heist goes wrong, in Antonia Bird’s stylish and political crime thriller.

105 mins United Kingdom Director. Antonia Bird

Face was a key work from director Antonia Bird, whose unexpected death in 2013 was keenly felt throughout the British film industry.

Bird was known for inspiring loyalty among collaborators. Robert Carlyle starred in three other features for her beyond his smart turn in this gripping crime tale.

View My Brother the Devil
My Brother the Devil

My Brother the Devil 2012 15

Sally El Hosaini's award-winning feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment between two British-Egyptian brothers, as gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them.

107 mins United Kingdom Director. Sally El Hosaini

Welsh-Egyptian filmmaker Sally El Hosaini made a splash with her debut feature, which details the contrasting London lives of two brothers.

She was rewarded with Best Newcomer awards from the Evening Standard and BFI London Film Festival for this thoughtful and promising work.

View The Arbor
The Arbor

The Arbor 2010 15

Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.

94 mins United Kingdom Director. Clio Barnard

Another audacious debut that seemed to come out of nowhere, The Arbor was the first feature from director Clio Barnard.

Her innovative mix of documentary and fiction retraces the life of another female artist, the late playwright Andrea Dunbar.

View Red Road
Red Road

Red Road 2006 18

Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.

109 mins United Kingdom Director. Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold is now an established figurehead of British cinema, but her screen career derived from unlikely beginnings – as a presenter on children’s TV show No. 73.

She soon proved herself a natural – and vital – new voice in cinema, winning the Cannes Jury Prize with her debut feature.

View Unrelated

Unrelated 2007 15

On a Tuscan break a fortysomething woman finds herself drawn to the company of a group of partying teens, including a young Tom Hiddleston (in one of his earliest roles).

96 mins United Kingdom Director. Joanna Hogg

Like Arnold, Joanna Hogg took a relatively circuitous route to feature-filmmaking, having served an extended apprenticeship directing TV drama.

Her debut was well worth the wait. It seemed to flout the rules of British cinema, eschewing starkly shot sink-estates for a sunny, subtly humorous study of bourgeois lives.

View Kill the Day
Kill the Day

Kill the Day 1996 15

An ex-drug addict reflects on life in and out of prison in this short by BAFTA-winner Lynne Ramsay, based on real accounts.

18 mins United Kingdom Director. Lynne Ramsay

Lynne Ramsay is another leading light of British cinema, earning widespread acclaim for her three features so far: Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

In recent years she’s had well publicised fallouts and walkouts, but the singular strength of her work endures: evident even from this early short.

View Tomboy

Tomboy 2011 15

A ten-year-old girl, settling into her new neighbourhood outside Paris, is mistaken for a boy and has to live up to this new identity since it's too late for the mistake to be clarified.

82 mins France Director. Céline Sciamma

The success of Girlhood saw French director Celine Sciamma greeted with a wave of acclaim, but her earlier features Water Lilies and Tomboy are equally impressive.

Over the course of the three features she developed a very distinct style, focusing on issues of gender fluidity and sexual identity among girls.

View Helen

Helen 2008 PG

An inventive and acclaimed British feature following the transformation of a teenager who agrees to portray her missing college friend in a highly detailed crime reconstruction.

75 mins United Kingdom Director. Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor

Dublin-based duo Christine Molloy and Joe Lawler have established a distinctive body of work over the course of several shorts and features.

Like Barnard’s The Arbor, their work straddles fiction and non-fiction, often developing out of collaborative workshops with real communities.

View Riddles of the Sphinx
Riddles of the Sphinx

Riddles of the Sphinx 1977 U

Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s visually accomplished and intellectually rigorous film is one of the most important avant-garde films of the 1970s.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Peter Wollen, Laura Mulvey

Another experimental directing duo, revered film theoreticians Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey made a series of ground-breaking films during the 1970s.

Riddles of the Sphinx is the most significant, an avant-garde classic that embodies the pair’s theories on feminism, deconstruction and psychoanalysis.

View From the Sea to the Land Beyond
From the Sea to the Land Beyond

From the Sea to the Land Beyond 2012 U

This fascinating and moving film by award-winning director Penny Woolcock is a lyrical portrait of Britain's coastline which features a score by British Sea Power.

73 mins United Kingdom Director. Penny Woolcock

Before becoming a film director in her thirties Penny Woolcock was a factory working single mother, and her documentary work betrays an astute comprehension of real lives.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond finds her mining the BFI archives for footage of Britain’s coast and sea, euphorically scored by cult band British Sea Power.

View Lotte Reiniger's Art
Lotte Reiniger's Art

Lotte Reiniger's Art 1970

The short documentary gives us a wonderful insight into the enchanting animated film world of Lotte Reiniger.

12 mins United Kingdom

German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger pioneered the form of silhouette animation, and is credited as directing the oldest surviving animated feature.

This short documentary shines a light on her incredible career.

View B.D. Women
B.D. Women

B.D. Women 1994

Sassy, stylised documentary exploring the hidden histories of black lesbians.

20 mins United Kingdom Director. Campbell X

While women filmmakers have often toiled in a male-dominated industry, few would blame Inge Blackman (aka Campbell X) for feeling more of an outsider than most.

As a black trans artist documenting the experience of black lesbians, she's a rare and precious voice in British cinema.

View Before Stonewall
Before Stonewall

Before Stonewall 1984 15

Documenting the testimonies from those who dared to challenge the world and helped create the modern gay community.

83 mins USA Director. Greta Schiller

Fellow lesbian filmmaker Greta Schiller is the director of several notable documentary works, including another key study of black lesbianism, Tiny & Ruby: Hell Drivin' Women.

Her film on the founding of Stonewall is another vital document, and has vastly superior reputation to Roland Emmerich’s recent fictional take on the same history (Stonewall).

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