Suffragette Press Conference

Suffragette - BFI London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival opens this evening with Suffragette. Director Sarah Gavron, screenwriter Abi Morgan, and stars Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep were in London to talk about the film, gender equality, and the film industry…

On bringing the Suffragette movement to the big screen…

Abi Morgan: Film does take time. However, I think when a film is fronted not by one, but by an ensemble of women, and they are not being funny, it’s hard. And it’s not romantic, it’s hard. I think that became a huge obstacle, but we have an incredible group of producers and I think of them all as feminists. It has taken both men and women to bring this project to the screen.

On Suffragette‘s protagonist…

Sarah Gavron: What we were interested in was the story of ordinary women. No platform, no entitlement – working class women who were so often at the vanguard of change but rarely get talked about. There were these extraordinary accounts, so contemporary feeling. We thought to follow that woman would make it connect with audiences all over the world today.

Meryl Streep: I think the great achievement of this film is that it is not about women of a certain class, like Emmeline Pankhurst who worked as an abolitionist, as a pro-labour supporter for the rights of working people – men and women. It’s about a working girl. That’s part of why we can enter the film so easily and so empathetically. Carey plays this young laundress who looks like us.

On the contemporary resonance of Suffragette…

Carey Mulligan: What I always loved about this film is that it didn’t feel like a documentary about a time, it felt like a film about today. I always felt its resonance of where we are. It’s a film to mark the achievement of what these women did, what they gave to us, but also to mark where we are in the world. We still live in a society that is sexist, and that goes throughout our history.

Meryl Streep: There is no such thing as ‘women’s history’, there’s history that women have been shut out of. I knew a great deal about the suffragette movement in the United States, but I didn’t know about it here. And I also didn’t know the condition of women here in 1913. I didn’t know that the marriage age was twelve – that was shocking to me. I didn’t know that once a woman was married, she had no further claim to not only here name, but any property she brought to the marriage. Her own children were not hers; she had no say, really, in how they were raised or where they were educated, if they were educated. Or if the twelve year-old was basically sold to be married off. I didn’t know those things. To be it’s recent history because my grandmother was alive then, had a couple of children, and was not deemed capable of voting. I’m passionate about it – it feels recent.

Suffragette Press Conference

On women in film criticism…

Meryl Streep: In our business, part of it is driven by buzz. I was always thinking ‘what makes buzz? What controls that?’. So I went deep, deep, deep into Rotten Tomatoes and I counted how the contributors – critics and bloggers, and there is a very strict criteria that allows you to be a blogger, critic or something [on the site]. Of those people who are allowed to rate on the ‘Tomato-meter’, there are 168 women. And I thought ‘that’s absolutely fantastic’. If there were 168 men, it would be balanced. If there were 268 men it would be unfair but I would be used to it. Actually there are 760 men who weigh in on the Tomato-meter. I submit to you that men and women are not the same. They like different things. Sometimes they like the same thing, but sometimes their tastes diverge.

If the Tomato-meter is slighted so completely to one set of tastes, that drives box office in the United States. Absolutely. So who are these critics and bloggers? I went on the site of the New York Film Critics. They have 37 men and two women. Then I went on all of the sites of the different critics circles. The word isn’t disheartening, it’s infuriating because people accept this as received wisdom – ‘this is just the way it is’. You can take every single issue of female rights in the world and examine it under the same rubric because it isn’t fair. We need inclusion Rotten Tomatoes, this year it needs to be equal. Half and half.

Film Review: Suffragette

Suffragette

Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette is a by-the-numbers historical drama. Whilst the subject matter is ripe for cinematic adaptation, Suffragette fails to offer something truly memorable…

Maud Watts is a regular working-class women in 1910s London, with a husband and son. Reluctant at first, Maud is encouraged by friends to join the Suffragette movement, which has begun a campaign of civil disobedience…

Abi Morgan’s screenplay for Suffragette chooses an everywoman for its focus. Rather than heavily featuring the better-known characters of the movement, the film concentrates on Maud; very much an ordinary and relatable character. The protagonist is certainly accessible, and moves the film away from biopic leanings.

The film is as much about the journey of Maud as it is about the women’s right to vote movement in Britain. She acts as a conduit for the audience to experience key events in this  period, functioning almost as a guide. Suffragette is likely to educate audiences who do not know much about the movement, almost like a beginner’s guide.

Suffragette has the unshakeable feeling of a historical drama. Sarah Gavin’s film hits all the notes. Different aspects of the period are represented as the film progresses, the struggles depicted aim for the audience’s heartstrings, and the score veers from appropriately somber to soaring when necessary. The main issue with the film is that it does nothing to elevate itself above the status of run-of-the-mill historical drama. Suffragette is perfectly competent without offering any ingenuity.

The cast and crew seem likely to pick up nominations in the awards season. Carey Mulligan delivers a convincing performance as Maud. She receives good support from Anne-Marie Duff, whilst Meryl Streep good as ever in a small role. Costumes and sets have an air of authenticity to them.

Suffragette will engage and educate its audience, and is an important film for this reason. Those expecting something exceptional might be disappointed.

Previews: Jurassic World Trailer, Inside Out Clip and more

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Jurassic World trailer, a clip from Inside Out, plus Black Mass, Danny Collins and more…

Jurassic World Trailer

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the next instalment of his dinosaur franchise. This Jurassic World trailer reveals a little more about the plot of the film and its new dinosaurs. Although genetically-modified dinosaurs may raise eyebrows, the casting of Chris Pratt certainly does appeal following his turn in Guardians of the Galaxy. Jurassic World  will hit UK screens on 11th June 2015.

Black Mass

My, doesn’t Johnny Depp look different? Black Mass focuses on Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and his unlikely alliance with the FBI in the 1970s. The film also stars Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon. Back Mass is set for release on 25th September 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road Legacy Trailer

This retro Mad Max: Fury Road trailer is smart marketing. It differentiates the film from other remakes, a key factor in this is the return of director George Miller. Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road steams into UK cinemas on 14th May 2015.

Inside Out Clip

The more I see of Inside Out, the more I am looking forward to it. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, the film focuses on Riley and her fluctuating emotions growing up. Inside Out is screening at Cannes Film Festival this May, and will be released in 24th July 2015.

Danny Collins Trailer

Danny Collins stars Al Pacino as an ageing rock star who goes on a journey to rediscover his family and himself. Based on a true story, the film also stars Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Garner. Danny Collins will be released on UK screens on 29th May 2015.

Mr Holmes Trailer

Mr Holmes features an older version of the infamous detective than is usually portrayed on screen. Ian McKellan plays Sherlock Holmes as a returned detective, living in his farmhouse, who turns his attention to an unsolved case. Also starring Laura Linney, Mr Holmes is set for release on 19th June 2015.

Man Up Clip

Man Up is a new romantic comedy starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. The film is premised on a case of mistaken identity; Pegg’s Jack thinks Bell’s Nancy is his blind date. Also starring Olivia Williams and Rory Kinear, Man Up reaches UK cinemas on 29th May 2015.

Suffragette Trailer

This first trailer for Suffragette offers us a peak at Sarah Gavron’s historical drama. Suffragette is the first feature film to tell the story of British women’s fight for the right to vote at the turn of last century. With an enviable cast that includes Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan, Suffragette is set for release on 30th October 2015.

Summer Blockbuster Montage

Every year, film journalist Amon Warmann creates a montage of the Summer movie blockbusters. This year’s video features Mad Max: Road Fury, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland – A World Beyond and more. Check out his blog here.