Our Twenty Year History
Reclaim The Frame celebrated its twentieth anniversary on International Women’s Day 2023.
Now a year-round initiative, it started life as Birds’ Eye View Film Festival, an annual event founded by Rachel Millward and Pinny Grylls in 2003.
Celebrating and supporting women's work in film by placing them at the heart of the creative vision, the festival was a positive response to the stark historical imbalance in the film industry between the male majority, and women who made up just 7% of directors and 12% of writers at the time.
Over the next ten years, the film festival made great strides spotlighting the wealth of often unsung female creative talent from around the world, as it raised awareness of the issue of deep gender inequity in film.
During this period, Birds’ Eye View Awards were presented to the best fiction feature, documentary, and short film selected by juries of leading industry figures and film critics. Winners included Franny Armstrong’s Best Documentary AGE OF STUPID (2009), Sam Taylor-Wood’s Best UK Short LOVE YOU MORE, (2009), and Best Newcomer Sarah Polley’s AWAY FROM HER (2007).
For the penultimate edition in 2013, the festival celebrated Arab women filmmakers - the first female-led programme to focus on this region - including work by Haifaa Al Mansour (WADJDA), Annemarie Jacir (WHEN I SAW YOU) and Leila Kilana’s debut (ON THE EDGE).
Alongside promotion, professional development training was introduced as a means of re-balancing the film industry and helping more women to gain entry.
In 2014 the festival’s Artistic Director, Kate Gerova (left) co-founded Filmonomics (Film+Economics), our successful bespoke business-training programme.
Balancing creative, commercial and personal development, and led by industry professionals, the programme continues to help develop a wide range of skills and knowledge, from pitch and development through to demystifying sales, distribution, access to market and reaching audiences network building. Filmonomics has run for seven editions and 2022 marked the inaugural International edition of the programme.
Among its 171 graduates is, Rachel Ramsay (COPA 71), Shirine Best (WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST), Naomi Wright and Helen Jones (CENSOR), Zoe Dobson (DURAN DURAN: THERE’S SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW) Cherish Oteka (BLACK COP) Paul Sng (POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE), Lidz-Ama Appiah (QUEEN OF GLORY), Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (BLUE STORY), Martin Gentles (HIS HOUSE).
15% Off All Items
In 2015, Birds’ Eye View became a year-round operation as we sought to increase our impact on gender inequality through a UK-wide audience development programme.
Since its founding in 2003, progress had remained slow and in 2017 just 13% of directors and 15% of writers were female.
That same year the charity undertook a new phase of work funded by the British Film Institute, under our Reclaim The Frame banner. Headed by our then Director, Mia Bays, a film veteran of 30 years, and in partnership with cinemas, distributors and festivals across the UK and beyond, we developed impactful and inclusive campaigns to build audiences for films we support, and developed safe and accessible spaces for conversation around gender inequality and social injustice.
Empowering audiences to make a difference has remained an important part of the campaign.
Since 2017 our profile raising efforts have been boosted through our development of regional and national influencer networks to spark on and off line conversations and word of mouth.
At the same time we started to develop a more effective programme of community outreach: in the first year of the pandemic we were awarded a grant from the London Community Response Fund for a London wide community outreach pilot project.
Headed up by community engagement specialist Isra Al Kassi ,over 8 months we reached over 1000 people including marginalised and vulnerable communities with poor access to cinema and whose circumstances had been exacerbated by the pandemic, through events and online screenings, and the distribution of cinema tickets, DVD and VoD film passes, as well as food parcels.
Nina Thyberg with
Isra Al Kassi
In 2021 Melanie Iredale joined Reclaim The Frame as Director and put intersectionality, decentralisation and internationalism centre stage, and expanded our remit to include all marginalised genders.
During 2022-23, our team expanded to recruit eight Impact Producers: grassroots marketeers based in each nation and region with the aim to decentralise the curation and delivery of Reclaim The Frame, reaffirming our long-held belief that impactful connections and outreach is best achieved through local relationships and lived experiences in the cities in which we work.
With the support of the British Council we took Reclaim The Frame overseas for the first time, launching our Reclaim The Frame x International project which saw us partner with women’s film festivals across Asia and the Arab regions and the UK through exhibition and training.
The titles were screened to 3.6k audiences at over 40 events - each enhanced by Q+As, panel sessions and talks. Finally, we rebranded Birds’ Eye View to Reclaim The Frame, to better reflect our mission.
Between 2017 and 2023, Reclaim The Frame has supported over 100 titles, including many important ground-breaking, boundary-defying, issue-driven, award winning releases such as:
Our support for these releases has generated over 30K admissions from 900+ in-cinema events, two thirds of which have been outside London.
Ratings have remained consistently high throughout this period with 88% rating the events and 91% rating the films 4 or 5/5 (from 5K+ surveys).
Furthermore these events have attracted significant numbers of young and diverse cinemagoers: 35% 16-30 year olds, 25% BIPOC, 24% LGBTQI+, 21% Disabled and 15% Disadvantaged.
Reclaim The Frame has had a meaningful impact over the last 20 years but we know there is still a long way to go: in the first half of 2023 under one quarter of film releases were directed or written by a woman or non-binary person.
Our campaign to end gender inequality will thus continue as we build upon past success, growing the Reclaim The Frame community and broadening perspectives of the world around an inclusive UK and global cinema culture.
You can join our campaign and the wider Reclaim The Frame community by becoming an Advocate.
Film Releases in the First Half of 2023
Proportion of film releases directed or written by women or non-binary individuals in the first half of 2023.
4 or 5/5 Stars for
4 of 5/5 star rating, out of 5000+ surveys.
Admissions from In-Cinema Events
20,000 outside of London