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Feminist protesters lie down on red carpet at premiere of Suffragette

Feminist protesters hit the red carpet tonight alongside stars of the film Suffragette at the opening night of the BFI London Film Festival.

Scenes from real life mirrored those in the drama, which stars Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep and Anne-Marie Duff.

Groups of women from Sisters Uncut, wearing tops with posters stuck on saying "Two women killed every week" and "Dead women can't vote", jumped the barriers and lay on the carpet while Duff and fellow actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Romola Garai gave interviews.

"We are suffragettes," they shouted, and "Domestic violence cuts kill," referring to cuts to domestic abuse services.

Other protesters held banners with the words "50/50 Parliament", calling for equality in the British Government.

Garai said: "I haven't spoken to them or seen their demands but I'm happy to see the suffrage movement is alive and happening."

Helena Bonham Carter also applauded the protesters, saying: "I think it's marvellous. That is exactly what the suffragettes were about. Hopefully the film will inspire anybody who feels an injustice has been done, to be bold enough to protest."

Written by The Iron Lady's Abi Morgan and directed by Sarah Gavron, Suffragette tells the story of the British women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century as Emmeline Pankhurst led a call for female rights to be recognised.

New mother Carey Mulligan, who plays aspiring suffragette Maud Watts, said becoming a parent has made the film "more poignant".

She said: "Hopefully this film will inspire everyone in the way they view the world. We are an unbalanced society - women and men - and films like this inspire conversations about how we can correct that imbalance."

Mulligan, who is married to musician Marcus Mumford, said women still have a long way to go before they are on an equal footing with men.

"It's slow and steady. We are optimistic that things need to change and brilliant actresses like Jennifer Lawrence are making enormous amounts of money in the box office and Hollywood is starting to realise there might be something in it."

Duff, who has a young son with husband James McAvoy, has also been educating her child about gender equality. She explained: "We are all the same. It doesn't matter what bits of flesh we have - we are all equal. And if we have the same skills we should be paid equally for them."

Earlier at the film's press conference, Meryl Streep - who portrays Emmeline Pankhurst - hit out at the male-dominated film-making industry, saying the inequality made her "infuriated".

Suffragette opened the BFI London Film Festival, which runs until October 18.

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