Girls On Film

Blog by Ray Philp | 04 Mar 2009

Even in the relatively liberal world of film, men are bastards. The idea that women might deserve parity with men in vocational terms is perhaps still met with haughty scoffs by the majority of tweed adorned dinosaurs at the golf range, or within the phlegmatic charm of working men’s clubs where heated discussions peppered with irony free Alf Garnett motifs are revisited ad naseum. Seemingly, you can add the film studio to that list of anachronistic haunts; of all the directors and screenwriters in the UK, only 6% and 12% respectively are female.

To co-incide with International Woman’s Day, The Bird’s Eye View Film Festival are celebrating female film making at the Cameo on Sunday 8th March with a day of striking short films that will form part of a nine day festival across the UK. Included in the shorts programme are Sam Taylor’s Love You More, Harry Wootliff’s Trio, and Jiang Xuan’s August 15th, the last of which received an honourable mention from the Sundance Film Festival Short Film last year.

As if to undermine the aforementioned statistic, Jennifer Lynch directs desert thriller Surveillance, on general release this Friday. Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond headline the proceedings as two FBI agents that investigate a murder in a remote corner of Santa Fe. A bleak tale with some neat cinematography is propped up by some worthy accolades: Lynch was the first female director to receive Best Director award from the New York City Horror Film Festival, and it also scooped the Best Picture prize at Festival de Cine de Sitges.

Whilst the majority of film releases this week are very much female oriented, the release of Watchmen, unhelpfully, threatens to undermine this entire article. It would seem that nothing says chauvinism more overtly than this long-awaited graphic novel adaptation, directed by Zack Snyder. A closer inspection might however reveal some subversive feminist satire at work; washed up superheroes all in a malady in an alternative America, where Richie Nixon’s five o’clock shadow didn’t cost him his job and nuclear war is all part of US military brinkmanship, is surely how a world run by sleazy and delusional men is envisaged by a Germaine Greer type or similarly vitriolic bra charring feminists.

Staying on the theme of old bussts, the oft-sculpted head and shoulders of Queen Victoria is given the full body treatment with a dramatisation of her early years as Queen of England in The Young Victoria this Friday. Jean-Marc Vallee shows us through the medium of costume drama that Queen Victoria wasn’t always a dowdy curmudgeon, but that she once looked something like Emily Blunt. Phwoarr, etc. Her fiery romance with Prince Albert is the subject of this royal romp.

Elsewhere, the Glasgow Film Theatre is offering you another chance to show contempt to ze Nazis after the January release of Bryan Singer’s lukewarm offering, Valkyrie. James Bond ‘baddie’ and Scandinavian poster boy Mads Mikkelsen is the leading lad alongside Thure Lindhardt in reputedly expensive Danish World War II flick Flammen & Citron. The film is centred on Danish resistance faction Holger Danske’s attempts to thwart fascism, and whilst it dresses itself up as a nostalgic thriller (as opposed to a traditional World War II film), it looks a worthier effort than Valkyrie.

Finally, the Edinburgh Filmhouse are showing an early Stanley Kubrick film this Friday, Killer’s Kiss, as part of their Stanley Kubrick season this March. A noir thriller set in New York, it follows the story of fading boxer Davey Gordon, who falls for nightclub dancer Gloria Price. However, her violent boss seeks to drive a wedge between their fledgling romance, culminating in a brutal finale that foretells Kubrick’s affinity for striking visual set pieces realised more fully in later works like 2001: A Space Oddysey and Clockwork Orange. [Ray Philp]