BEV Partners With BFI Made in Britain, 2-30 April
BEV are delighted to be partnering with the first in the BFI’s new annual series dedicated to celebrating contemporary British cinema. This year will see a selection focusing on women filmmakers with a bold approach to cinematic form, and a tangible, demonstrated vision.
Lynne Ramsay recently remarked that one of her wishes for 2012 is that she “never [be] asked ever again what it feels like to be a female director!” If success should be determined according to the brilliance of the on-screen vision, and the gender of the person behind the camera should play no role in how a film is positioned, one may question why the creative role of director is still so male-dominated.
All of Ramsay’s films have been met with great critical acclaim and she has enjoyed BAFTA nominations for her short film Gasman (1998), Ratcatcher (1999) and We Need to Talk About Kevin – the latter was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year.
Ramsay’s contemporaries have made and continue to create distinctive works that challenge the medium both in style and structure. Andrea Arnold’s career started with short films, such as Wasp (2003), which won over 30 international prizes, including an Academy Award, for her depiction of a single mother raising four children.
Her follow-up feature, Red Road (2006), is a voyeuristic thriller with great emotional depth, set against the stark skyline of one of the most impoverished estates in Glasgow; recently followed by her re-imagining of the Brontë classic Wuthering Heights (2011). This radical interpretation introduced racial inequality as a new layer of tension to the romantic drama. The Andrea Arnold & Lynne Ramsay: Short Programme will allow viewers the rare opportunity to watch the early shorts from both of these directors.
Social mores are also examined by Joanna Hogg in Unrelated (2007) and Archipelago (2010), each with tightly wound narratives that cast a light on the bourgeois lifestyles of the middle classes. Beautifully composed scenes utilise the natural settings and allude to Hogg’s painterly eye.
Art and film also crossover in Gillian Wearing’s debut Self Made (2010), when she places an ad for non-acting volunteers to participate in a project which questions identity with profound and visceral results. An original and quasi-documentary approach is employed by Clio Barnard in The Arbour (2010), when she intertwines rare footage of playwright Andrea Dunbar and interviews with the writer’s family and friends, which are lip-synched to actors and scene reconstruction.
Carol Morley has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim for her recent film Dreams of a Life (2011), which attempts to plot the life of Joyce Carol Vincent whose remains were discovered in her flat, three years after her death; but she began her career with The Alcohol Years (2000), documenting 1982-1987 when she abandoned herself to drink and self-destruction during her Manchester-based youth.
Working in a different documentary mode is Lucy Walker, nominated at this year’s Oscars for Best Documentary with The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011), which was made in the wake of last year’s Japanese tsunami. In addition to directing, she produces and shoots her documentaries, which have resulted in engaged and intimate social and environmental studies. Devil’s Playground (2002), for example, follows a rite-of-passage ritual in the Amish community, when 16-year-olds are released into secular life to confront temptation, and the Oscar nominated Waste Land (2010) presents Brazilian artist Vik Muniz who collects refuse from the world’s largest rubbish dump for his artworks.
Seen together, the work of these auteurs makes a diverse and compelling showcase, and as each of them approaches new projects this film season provides the perfect opportunity to review and drive this debate further.