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“Everyone can have a seat at the table, it can’t be as it was.” Mia Bays in DOUBLE NEGATIVE

When film industry research and first-hand experience told her that female writers and directors were being excluded, Mia Bays knew things couldn’t continue as they were. Mike Pinnington speaks to the Oscar-winning producer… 

What’s the last film you saw? How about the last film you saw written or directed by a woman? (For me, it was Claire Denis’ High Life. Before that, probably Agnès Varda’s Faces Places.) Does it make a difference whether a film is directed by a man or a woman – in terms of expectation, perception and reception? I ask, because the percentage of male to female film workers is, shall we say, startlingly uneven. As of a 2017 report, for example, women comprised just 11% of all directors. Now, more than ever, seems a good time to redress this imbalance.

One who understands this better than most is Mia Bays. Director at large of Birds’ Eye View– an agency campaigning for gender equality in film – Bays has nearly 30 years in the business; an Oscar-winning producer, she has previously been involved in distribution and exhibition. In December last year, Bays spoke at industry-facing film exhibition conference, This Way Up, where she set out the aims of BEV and its Reclaim The Frame initiative. “We want to centre stories that move people, [but] it’s about who tells the story,” she said then. I spoke to Bays recently to discuss how you go about doing that.

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