Updated: May 10
Films by women released in the UK dropped steeply in the first half of 2022 (directed or co-directed and/or written or co-written by a woman/women).
Female-led film releases reached an all-time high of 30% of all UK film releases in 2021 but fell by 6 points to 24% for January to June 2022, the same level as 2018. For the same period, female writers dropped a staggering 7 points to 17%, just one point higher than 2017.
This is a worrying reversal following the slow yet steady increase over the last four years. The top ten grossers of the year so far reinforce the gloomy picture, all of which are helmed by white male directors. The celluloid ceiling was breached a record two times last year with Eternals (Chloe Zhao) and Black Widow (Cate Shortland) finishing the year amongst the top ten global grossers. So far this year, as of July 2022, there have been none. This may be a bump in the road resulting from a back-log of male-led releases resulting from the film releasing delays and disruption caused by the pandemic. Only time will tell.
Films by women include titles directed or co-directed and/or written or co-written by a woman/women. Directed or written by a woman/women includes co-direction or
The data is disheartening, because we know at Birds’ Eye View that female filmmaking talent is not in short supply. Since cinemas began to re-open just over a year ago, we have slowly been building momentum, bringing back bespoke events featuring conversations and creative workshops to screens around the UK in support of current and archival releases. The stand-out success of last year was the near sold-out UK tour for Rebel Dykes, a film by and about queer women and non-binary people. So far in 2022, we have completed a popular tour for Pleasure, a provocative female perspective on the multi-bilion dollar porn industry, and have recently embarked on another UK wide tour for our Queerious Programme of archival titles that explore sexual awakenings and re-awakenings, and queer love through a feminist lens. Other Reclaim the Frame titles include the critically acclaimed and multiple award winning Cow (Andrea Arnold), The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma) and Playground (Laura Wandel).
Our Reclaim the Frame mission is to broaden perspectives of the world by drawing ever greater audiences to films by women and non-binary people. And at the same time as growing audiences, we also strive to make them more inclusive in keeping with the diverse screen representations we champion and to better reflect the society we live in. Since 2018 we have largely met our diversity targets with 34% 16-30 year old, 22% LGBTQ+, 24% BIPOC, 22% Disabled audiences. But from 2022 onwards we are aiming higher and have appointed new regional Impact Producers who will spearhead our grassroots campaign to attract audiences who are less frequent visitors to independent cinemas. We welcome cinema fans from all backgrounds, identities and lived experiences to join us in raising the volume around films by women and non-binary people and supporting their local independent cinema.