Belfast Telegraph

Female directors make up half of BFI London Film Festival nominees

Five of the films up for the best film accolade have been directed or co-directed by women.

Half of the films in official competition for this year’s BFI London Film Festival are from a female director or co-director, it has been announced.

Ten big screen efforts have been shortlisted for the annual event’s best film accolade, which the BFI says “recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking”.

Female filmmakers Karyn Kusama (Destroyer), Alice Rohrwacher (Happy As Lazzaro), Sudabeh Mortezai (Joy), Dominga Sotomayor (Too Late To Die Young) and Cristina Gallego, directing with Ciro Guerra (Birds Of Passage), are among the 10 nominees.

It’s a real pleasure to see that half of these films come from female directors. BFI LFF artistic director Tricia Tuttle

They will be competing against Ben Wheatley (Happy New Year, Colin Burstead), Peter Strickland (In Fabric), David Lowery (The Old Man And The Gun), Zhang Yimou (Shadow), and Laszlo Nemes (Sunset) for the prize.

The announcement comes after other major industry awards, including the Oscars, were widely criticised for a lack of representation for women this year.

American director Greta Gerwig was this year only the fifth woman to ever be nominated for a directing prize at the Oscars in its 90-year history.

The Cannes Film Festival also came under fire when just three of the 21 films in the competition were directed by women.

Director Lenny Abrahamson, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2015 film Room, will act as jury chair for the London Film Festival.

The winner will be announced during a special screening on October 20 at Vue Leicester Square.

It will be the first time a public audience has been invited to watch the screening and award presentation.

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival artistic director, said: “The LFF celebrates the breadth of cinema, and this is crystallised in the 10 films competing for best film at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival.

“Representing a tantalising range of styles, these films tell stories from around the globe – from third Century China to post-Pinochet Chile to contemporary Britain – and transport viewers to worlds both real and imagined.

“These works are by turns, socially and politically urgent, muscularly thrilling, evocatively personal, spectacular, kinky and wildly inventive.”

She added: “It’s also a real pleasure to see that half of these films come from female directors.”

Abrahamson said: “I am delighted to continue my relationship with the BFI London Film Festival. It’s an honour to be this year’s jury chair and I very much look forward to deliberating with my fellow jurors on what is sure to be some of the most exciting, thought-provoking and original work in this year’s selection of films.”

The film festival, held in association with American Express, kicks off on October 10 with Widows, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis.

It ends on October 21, with Laurel and Hardy film Stan And Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly and directed by Filth director Jon S Baird.

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