Spring Stock Clearance!

Spring is almost here 🙂 and as part of our spring clean we have decided to have a stock clearance, selling off the remaining LFFF t-shirts and tote bags from the last 7 years at bargain prices!

T-shirts are £3 and totes are £2.50, with the below additional costs for postage and packing for up to 5 items. (If you want to order more than 5 items, please contact us for a quote). Plus we’ll send you a free LFFF badge with every item ordered! All t-shirts are slim fit, unless otherwise stated. The loose fit t-shirts are pretty roomy. All organic and fair trade, of course 🙂 Happy shopping!

UK Postage – £3.00  

International Postage Europe – £5.50  

International Postage Outside Europe – £8.00  

Please add the relevant postage to your order. If you have any questions, email us at info@londonfeministfilmfestival.com.

LFFF 2012 Grey Tee

Grey LFFF 2012 t-shirt – M (approx. size 10)

 

 

 

 

LFFF 2012 White Tee

White LFFF 2012 t-shirt – M (approx. size 10) 

 

 

 

 

LFFF 2013 Tee

Loose fit grey LFFF 2013 t-shirt – XL (men’s sizing)

Grey LFFF 2013 t-shirt – XL (approx. size 16)

Loose fit grey LFFF 2013 t-shirt – L (men’s sizing)

Grey LFFF 2013 t-shirt – L (approx. size 14)

Loose fit grey LFFF 2013 t-shirt – S (men’s sizing)

 

 

LFFF 2015 Tee

Purple LFFF 2015 t-shirt – XL (approx. size 16)

Purple LFFF 2015 t-shirt – L (approx. size 14)

Purple LFFF 2015 t-shirt – M (approx. size 12)

Purple LFFF 2015 t-shirt – S (approx. size 10)

 

LFFF 2018 Tee

White LFFF 2018 t-shirt – size S (approx. size 12) 

 

 

 

 

LFFF 2018 Tote

LFFF 2018 tote bag 

 

 

LFFF Christmas Shop now open!

With just 3 weeks to go until Christmas Day, why not brighten up the festive season with some feminist presents for yourself or your loved ones?

We are selling the last t-shirts and tote bags from our 2018 design, for those who were unable to grab them during one of our events, with international shipping available to all feminists across the globe! Plus a free LFFF badge with every purchase!

Our 2018 t-shirts are £8 each + p&p. We only have size S left (sorry) – roughly a size 12 (chest 82 cm; length 61 cm).

Tote bags are £5 each + p&p

Free LFFF badge with every purchase!

UK p+p is £2.50 for one item and and £0.50 for each additional item. To place an order please email festival@londonfeministfilmfestival.com.

For international delivery, please contact us for a quote, including the number of items you would like and your country of residence!

NB. Santa hats and fairy lights not included 😉

LFFF has also arranged 15% off Beech’s Chocolates for our followers, valid till 1 Jan 2019. Just enter code LFFF15 at checkout. Beech’s make very tasty, affordable chocolates, and have a large vegan range too.

Happy Feminist Christmas, everyone!!!      

Leeds Animation Workshop at 40!

DISH chemist cookAnnouncing a celebration of the 40th birthday of the amazing Leeds Animation Workshop! This radical women’s collective was founded in 1978 and is still going strong! We’ll be showing a selection of their feminist short animation films at the Rio Cinema in Dalston, London, on Sunday 2 December at 3.30pm.

Leeds Animation Workshop is a not-for-profit, cooperative company, run by women, which produces animated films on social issues. It began as a group of women friends who came together to make a film about the need for nurseries. Throughout its history, the Workshop has been run by women, who have carried out all stages of the production process.

Followed by a Q&A with members of the Workshop.giveusasmile newspapers still

We’ll also be hosting an exhibition of Leeds Animation Workshop artwork and archive material, in the Rio Cinema foyer.

Don’t miss this one-off event to celebrate this fantastic women’s co-op’s feminist films!

LFFF 2018 concludes

At LFFF we believe in the potential of filmmaking as feminist activism and as an agent of social change. Each year, we bring to you a selection of films from around the world that address pressing and underdiscussed feminist issues.

In our 6th edition, filmmakers exposed the threats faced by human rights defenders in Latin America, and saluted the efforts of a grassroots campaign to end period poverty in the UK. They were fat activists who hiked without shame in Canada and researchers exploring romance between incarcerated women in Spain.

Audiences had a chance to cheer Afro-Brazilian feminists taking to the streets and listen to three generations of Bamiléké women discussing the complexities of culture clashes and tradition. We discussed the many faces of motherhood: a fetishized instrument of social control, a connecting link to identity and heritage, or a territory vulnerable to male violence.

Once more, we brought you a Feminist Classic and present to you, for the first time at LFFF, we had a Zine Fair and a Riot Grrrl night.

We hope you enjoyed LFFF 2018 as much as we enjoyed making it happen and want to thank you for being part of it!

#MeToo as the End of Auteurs? Good.

In Hannah Gadsby’s much-discussed comedy special Nanette, she argues that one of the biggest problems with celebrity today is the issue of reputation, and the idea that the (male) artist’s reputation and the myth of their genius is more important than looking at how these men actually acted in their lives. Spoiler alert: a lot of the Western world’s favourite art movements were built on a hefty dose of misogyny. In Gadsby’s performance, she particularly focuses on the (to her defunct) argument that separating the artist from the art is impossible in a world that still glorifies the idea of the individual, misunderstood man, arguing that “Nobody owns a circular Lego nude, they own a Picasso!”.

A similar dynamic goes on in film, with auteur directors taking up the role of the troubled male genius. Although auteurship in film has been widely debated, there seems to be a consensus that on the whole the director is the most important person working on a film at any given time, as the director is the person who delivers the film all the way from inception to its final form. Sure, a film might often be sold to audiences through its starring actors, but when it comes to who is ascribed the artistic merit for the film, it is more often than not the director who gets the praise, whose creative stamp is seen as inevitably present, no matter how much or how little control they had over the production. This is also why, when referencing films, the director is the person who is named, rather than for instance the first-billed actor or the screenwriter(s).

However, we also know that directors, especially directors within mainstream Hollywood and mainstream arthouse, tend to be more-than-overwhelmingly male. When we think of ‘the’ auteur (as a social stereotype as opposed to ‘an’ individual auteur), our mental image is likely to reflect the type of person who indeed is at the head of the most widely spread cultural productions: straight, white, Western, male. So in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, in eras of #OscarsSoWhite and the push for not only more diversity in front of the camera but behind it as well, have we perhaps reached a point where we should rethink auteurship, or maybe even do away with it altogether? To answer my own rhetorical question: I sure fucking hope so.

The structure of the auteur is undeniably an individualist one: although we all know that there are more people on set than just the director, it is the director’s influence which is deemed to permeate the whole film. However, many auteur directors work with a similar cast and crew for many of their projects, which is often exactly where their distinctive feel comes from. Why are Tim Burton’s films considered to be created in ‘his’ style, when this style is heavily influenced by his staple costume designer, Colleen Atwood? Why do we all know Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill as Tarantino films, and not as Menke films, even though she edited all of his films until the day she died? How many more people are attracted to Todd Haynes’ films because of his frequent collaborations with Julianne Moore? Yet none of these women are known as ‘auteurs’ in the same sense, despite being an integral component of their oeuvre’s ‘look’. Even at LFFF we participate in this culture of the director as authority to some extent, by only choosing films that are directed by women.

Of course, it could be argued that this is exactly the job of the director – to bring the various components together into a coherent whole. However, this is just as much (sometimes even more) a function of the studios, the producers, the executives, as well as the marketing, publishing and distribution sides of filmmaking. Yet, aside from a few niche exceptions, they don’t tend to get thought of in a similar way, because their jobs are deemed to be financial, clinical, not ‘artistic’ in the same sense that a director’s job is understood to be.

It is exactly this undefinable area of the ‘artistic’ that gives auteur directors social and cultural license to behave in ways that we would often (hopefully) find intolerable in any other workspace, in the name of ‘art’. Think for instance about Alfred Hitchcock’s abysmal treatment of Tippi Hedren in several of his films. The creation of a set that is explicitly hostile to his female colleagues is often considered part of his creative vision for the perfect suspense film (in a similar way that Hollywood goes gaga for method acting – ‘you don’t know where the film ends and the actor begins!’) rather than gendered abuse. Or Kubrick’s behaviour towards Shelley Duvall, which left her more or less out of the public eye and made him one of the most celebrated directors ever. Dive into the behind-the-scenes situations of auteur and see for yourself how many male careers were nurtured by hostility to, and sometimes outright abuse of, women. Meanwhile, women get branded as divas for something as simple as wanting to close the gender pay gap. Imagine the uproar if female directors shouted at their (much younger) actors until they cried. It is good that they don’t get the luxury of artistic license, as nobody should have it, but we cannot deny that this is a gendered problem.

The oft-repeated phrase ‘separating the art from the artist’ is commonly applied to artists who have done something that as an audience we disagree with, but that we might decide to (temporarily) ignore in order to enjoy their art, especially when their actions aren’t visible in their art. However, I would argue that this is impossible when it comes to auteur cinema (if indeed it is possible in any form of art). When we celebrate the auteur-film, we are celebrating the director alongside it, because it is commonly accepted that it is their vision and their artistry that makes the film have that particular style. It is impossible to separate the art from the artist, if they are already sold as one product. Nobody watches a random film about a neurotic New York writer who falls in love with inappropriately young women, we watch a … Even finishing this sentence seems too obvious, and yet people still tell me that I should give Woody Allen a chance, as if his disgusting ‘private’ life doesn’t bleed into his public artwork.

Of course, auteurship is not the cause of abuse in Hollywood. There are many people who take up positions of power without abusing this status, and there are many people working in the film industry who do not have an auteur status, and who still behave in a despicable manner. However, the way auteurs are viewed by mainstream press is still a symptom of our culture’s excuses for men’s actions, so long as those actions can be shrouded in mysterious, creative masculinity. When we tell the world that there is something extraordinary, something ungraspably, intrinsically artistic about these men, something that elevates them from a normal human being to an artist, we create a space where they cannot be held to account for their actions.

So how do we go about changing this culture? First of all, film journalism would do well to emphasize the communal aspect of filmmaking and de-mystify the role of the director, by showing that many parts of the film production process have a dedicated artist devoted to it. While it could be argued that there is no market for focusing on other people involved in the production, such as screenwriters, costume designers, composers, cinematographers and casting directors, that this is too niche, only interesting to those already interested, I would argue that it is only niche exactly because it is under-discussed.

And yes, I do know that these people are not invisible by any stretch of the imagination, especially within circles of people who are already interested in film, but ask a random person to make a list of all the editors she know versus all of the directors, and I am willing to bet quite a large amount of money that one list is longer than the other. If these jobs were de-mystified, if the general public knew what the day-to-day tasks of a colourist were, their craft could be discussed, praised and criticized in a more in-depth way, taking the sole attention away from the auteur director.

Second of all, we need to de-mystify not just the role of the director as the sole artistic genius, but also their behaviour. In the West, through influences that may not be directly derived from but are definitely caught up with Christian and capitalist epistemology, we love the idea of looking towards a singular authority figure as someone who instructs, whose decisions are final, who is not to be negotiated with. For obvious reasons, this creates a massive power imbalance, especially considering the approval of the authority figure as necessary in the social, cultural and financial sphere – do what they say or risk being a social outcast. Do what they says or risk unemployment. Do what they say, or risk the reputation of the woman who ruined the artist.

At LFFF, we’re making a start on investigating feminist set/filmmaking practices in our Feminist Filmmaking Panel, on 19 August, in the Rio Cinema in Dalston. As filmmakers, as film journalists, as audience members, as people who are involved in the film industry, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to shape this industry, and we need to discuss how we can shape it into something that chooses women’s welfare over an abstract idea of ‘artistry’. To borrow from Gadsby once again, art that is created through the subjugation of women isn’t the be-all and end-all of art, it isn’t the ‘human experience’, it is men ‘painting flesh vases for their dick flowers’.

In a world where straight white men overwhelmingly occupy this position of power, it is tragic but not unsurprising that they might use this position to amplify the power that society has already given them, resulting in sexist and racist behaviour on-set as well as in their films – indeed, we must ask ourselves if straight white men are not attracted to the individual glory of auteurism exactly because this position is in line with how the world divides power anyway. If we see this easy abuse of power for what it is – lazily reinstating normative values through workplace violence – rather than an act of leaving artistic fingerprints on a film, the auteur stops being a singular force of genius, and is turned into the pathetic opportunist that he is.

Whenever I discuss the #MeToo movement with people, I get an inevitable chorus of ‘well, but if you’re going to discard every artist who has ever behaved badly, you’re not left with an awful lot’. My response is that that shows exactly how our ideas around consumption of art and culture are built on patriarchal foundations. Yes, an awful lot of men in Hollywood are despicable, and yes it is almost impossible to avoid their work. Does that mean that we should just treat (sexual) harassment as an inevitable component of artistry? Does that mean that we can excuse these men, because well, we need something to consume? Absolutely not.


This Article was written by Pippa Sterk.

Pippa Sterk, LFFF Coordinator and Programmer, is a London-based writer from the Netherlands. She has an MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths and a BA in Film Studies from Sussex University. She writes articles about media and activism, with a particular focus on LGBT+ film, and she is currently working on her first novel.

Half The Picture: 0.006% of Hollywood Directors from BAME Backgrounds

When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalized and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion

Half The Picture (2018), directed by Amy Adrion, comes at a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood. Successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives, and careers in a film that doesn’t pull any punches about what the realities are for women in the industry, specifically in Hollywood. Nevertheless, it still manages to offer an inspiring sense of fight and hope and the first glimpse of a future that values women directors’ voices equally to those of men.

Amy Adrion’s documentary feature began life being funded solely on credit cards, similar to many of us starting our projects, and gathered momentum as more interviews were conducted and finances were confirmed, and as #MeToo unfolded. Half The Picture presents facts and anecdotes from women directors that work across a range of films and documentaries all the way from the indie market up to and including big budget studio films. The women discuss the realities of getting films financed, dealing with male colleagues challenging their authority and their experience, and also the demands of the job – working in film as a mother often means leaving young children behind while being on location weeks on end.

The statistics that the film shows are as expected, but are particularly awful if you are a director from a BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnicity) background. Female BAME existence in the film world borders on invisibility: 0.006% of directors working in Hollywood are from BAME backgrounds. There is also a correlation between lower budget documentary/narrative films and the number of female directors who are working in this space. Then, conversely, as the budgets grow, the number of women securing directing roles begins to decline there – save, of course, some rare successes.

Adrion is quick to debunk the myth that if your work is good enough you’ll succeed no matter what your gender, saying: ‘That’s exactly what’s been happening for the past 100 years. Only white men have been considered for every job in Hollywood forever; they have been favoured over everybody else. So it’s frustrating because a lot of white male directors will say “it’s a tough time to be a white male director, they’re only looking for women” and you’re like, maybe they’re looking for women a little bit, but it’s not like women are now directing 96 percent of movies’.
Over the last year, we have seen some groundbreaking moments, from the release of Wonder Woman, with Patty Jenkins back to direct the next installment; to Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird which led to an Oscar nomination for her; to Ava DuVernay’s much-awaited A Wrinkle In Time, which had production and marketing budgets of around US$200 million and US$250 million respectively, making her the first African-American woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size, and which has also now exceeded the US$100 million mark at the box office.

All three films have done well and so their impact will continue to be felt in more female-led films both behind and in front of the camera. Half The Picture should be required viewing for anyone in the industry regardless of gender, as it is the gatekeepers who we need to continue to lobby for change.

 


This Article was written by Zam Naqvi.

Zam Naqvi, is a film writer & director living and working in London, UK. A version of this article originally appeared on: zam-naqvi.com.

Ouaga Girls (2017) // Last Frame Film Club – Review

LFFF had the happy fortune to be invited to the screening and panel discussion of Theresa Traore Dahlberg’s Ouaga Girls On 13 May. Our partners in film crime, Last Frame Film Club organized this event in collaboration with Women of Colour Film Club, at the CentrE17 in Walthamstow. The film, which LFFF was proud to present in our 2017 programme, documents the story of a group of women in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso who are all training to become car mechanics. As we see them progress in their studies, the women tell about all aspects of their lives, from the domestic to the classroom, from their social life and their relationships, to their careers as prospective car mechanics. Filmed in the run-up to the 2016 Burkinabé presidential elections, the audience subtly receives information about changing political and social lives in Burkina Faso from news reports and radio broadcasts in the background.

Afterwards, a panel discussion was held with filmmaker and script writer Laura Kirwan-Ashman and historian and educator Alinta Sara, moderated by WOC Film Club founder Aurelia Yussuf. Kirwan-Ashman spoke of her experience writing and directing short fiction films. She remarked on how interesting it was to see a documentary that is shot and edited as if it were a fiction film, and how her own forays into filmmaking started in a supportive environment of friends being creative and having fun together, similar to the female friendships shown in the film.

Yussuf related the casual depiction of the classroom to her own professional life in education. She particularly noted the nuance with which school life was portrayed, from the subtle undermining of the male teacher by the female students, to the fears that home life might infringe on the possibility to finish the course. It’s a nuance that is often lost in films about Black women, where school is often portrayed as the site of exclusion, bullying, or racism.

One aspect of the film that both the panel and the audience returned to during the discussion was the relief at having found a film that portrays Black womanhood in all its camaraderie and joy. The friendly classroom setting where women are free to support each other is a refreshing change from the usual way Black female bodies are treated in both fiction and documentary, especially those that (try to) appeal to a white Western audience. Despite this, the film never shies away from portraying the tougher parts of the women’s lives, such as poor sexual health education, inequality in the workplace, and the death of a school staff member. The difference is simply that viewers are not just left with an unsettled feeling that Black womanhood is intrinsically tragic or tough.

Ouaga Girls is an important counter-narrative to the normative ways Black women are portrayed on-screen, and it is a testament to Dahlberg’s talent as a director that by making a few artistic choices, her debut feature feels intimate and uplifting, when the subject matter lends itself particularly easily to depressing stereotypes. She is certainly a director to keep an eye on, and I can’t wait to see her next film, the Ambassador’s Wife, which is also set in Ouagadougou.

Altogether both the film and the event itself showcased the importance of spaces to explore, encounter, and develop oneself with others. Having a film club that allows us to watch these films in a community space, on an affordable budget, in a friendly setting with people from artistic, activist, and academic backgrounds as well as people who are not familiar with any of these areas is exactly what film needs right now.

Last Frame Film Club is based in Walthamstow, and hosts film screenings, masterclasses, and workshops around socially engaged films. Their next event is the UK premiere of Land of the Free on 7 June.

Women of Colour Film Club aims to showcase, discuss, and celebrate films about women of colour.


This Article was written by Pippa Sterk.

Pippa Sterk, LFFF Coordinator and Programmer, is a London-based writer from the Netherlands. She has an MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths and a BA in Film Studies from Sussex University. She writes articles about media and activism, with a particular focus on LGBT+ film, and she is currently working on her first novel.