Eye on Women Directors at London Festival

At the beginning of the 2000s, Rachel Millward and Pinny Gryllis were making low-budget short films in London, but had no peer network. In an effort to change this, they decided to buy out London’s Curzon Soho Cinema on a November night in 2002 to debut one of their films. That same night, they asked for submissions of other short films made by emerging women filmmakers. They took five of the submitted films, created a program, and the annual Birds Eye View Film Festival was born.

“If you asked anyone to name five film directors, they’d inevitably be men,” Ms. Millward said, “so we decided to create a platform for our peers.”

The full blog post, on London’s Birds Eye View Film Festival, is at the NEW YORK TIMES, and also continues here after the jump

The 2011 Birds Eye View Film Festival will run for the seventh time March 8 to 17 at three sites: the BFI Southbank, the Institute for Contemporary Arts and the Southbank Center. It will begin on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. To commemorate that, the festival will highlight a century of women filmmakers, from Lois Weber, one of the first women to direct a feature film, to Lucy Walker, whose “Wasteland” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The 2011 festival will also host a “Bloody Women” retrospective that will highlight women’s contributions to the horror genre. Artists like the Grammy winner Imogen Heap and Micachu, an English experimental composer, will premier live music scores alongside silent horror films at the Southbank Center’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

“I think in part exploring horror and gothic cinema feels very relevant because it’s having a huge surge in popularity, with films such as ‘Twilight,’ so it’s natural for an organization like Birds Eye View to think about what this means as a cultural shift,” Ms. Millward said. “It’s also always interesting for us to explore a genre where there are such strong gender stereotypes.”

Last year the festival looked at blondes on screen, and a few years ago at women in comedy cinema.

The 2011 festival will include panel discussions, short-film screenings and master classes. The feature-film roster includes films like “Meek’s Cutoff,” with Michelle Williams; Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark”; and Susanne Bier’s Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated “In a Better World.” There also will be several screenings and discussions devoted to the German New Wave filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta.

Photo: A scene from “In a Better World,” one of the films showing at the 2011 Birds Eye View Film Festival in London. Image courtesy of Birds Eye View Film Festival

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