Break The Bias
Inspired by #BreakTheBias the campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022, Birds Eye View has curated a selection of films from around the world which strive to imagine an equal world, free of discrimination. For the influential medium of film, breaking the bias not only depends on growing audiences for films by and about women, but also broadening these representations to include diverse female stories and experiences from right around the world. Each title we have selected is female directed and focused and seeks to combat stereotypes and foster greater understanding. Featuring films from the UK, across Europe, to Vietnam, Australasia, the continent of Africa and the USA, the selection also features diasporic filmmakers from India, Iran, and Iraq. International Women’s Day’s Break the Bias campaign looks to a world where difference is valued and celebrated, an aim which resonates with Birds Eye View’s own mission to broaden perspectives of the world through cinema, and which inspires this selection of titles, all of which can be seen online, on BFI Player.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
Appropriate Behaviour by Desiree Akhavan (UK 2015, 86mins) [CC]
Desiree Akhavan (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) directs and stars in this fearless comedy about a twenty-something bisexual Iranian-American woman struggling to conform to traditional Persian standards.
Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash (USA 1991, 112mins) [CC]
A fictionalised telling of Julie Dash’s father’s family of West African former slaves struggling to maintain their heritage. Part of the L.A Rebellion, Dash’s first feature made herstory as the first feature by an African American woman to get a general release in the USA.
I’m British But.… by Gurinder Chadha (UK, 1989, 29mins)
The first of a number of films from journalist turned filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) telling stories of Indian people (mostly women) living in the UK, this one exploring themes of home and second generation identity, and the importance of Bhangra music.
Island of the Hungry Ghosts – Gabrielle Brady (Germany 2018, 98mins) [CC + AD]
An experiential exploration of the injustice and trauma faced by those seeking asylum, focusing on Poh Lin, a Chinese Malaysian Australian therapist working in a high security detention facility on Christmas Island.
Jaddoland by Nadia Shihab (USA 2018, 91mins) [CC]
Filmmaker Nadia Shihab turns the camera on her mother, an Iraqi artist living an increasingly isolated life in the small town she’s made home in Texas. Her mother returns her gaze, taking photographs of Nadia, as each explores their cultural heritage through creativity.
My 20th Century by Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary 1989, 99mins)
A film about light, told in luminous monochrome. It’s 31 December 1979, Edison’s light bulb is being unveiled to the world and we’re transported to a magical realist Budapest where twin girls are born in that same moment – from here we follow their radically different paths.
Rafiki by Wanuri Kahiu (South Africa 2018, 83mins) [CC]
Popping with colour and energy, Rafiki tells the story of young Nairobi women Kena and Ziki, whose immediate connection blossoms into romance. This brave film was banned in Kenya where gay sex is punishable by 14-years in jail following director Wanuri Kahiu’s refusal to change the ending.
Something Different by Věra Chytilová (Czechoslovakia 1963, 81mins)
Vera Chytilová’s (Daises) first feature-length film, and one of the breakout films of the Czech New Wave, intersperses two narratives in parallel: the story of Vera, a fictional housewife living in Czechoslovakia, and that of Eva, a real-life Olympic gymnast.
Souad by Ayten Amin (Egypt 2021, 102mins)
A recent #ReclaimTheFrame supported title, telling the story of Souad as she navigates teenage life in contemporary Egypt, caught between the standards expected of her by both traditional religious values and social media pressures.
The Arbor by Clio Barnard (UK 2010, 90mins)
The first of Clio Barnard’s Bradford based tales (Ali & Ava), this one celebrating the life and work of playwright Andrea Dunbar (Rita, Sue and Bob Too) blending fact with fiction, testimonies with recreation, theatre with cinema.
The Third Wife by Ash Mayfair (Vietnam 2018, 92mins)
Fourteen year old May finds herself in a forced marriage to an older polygamous man, facing pressure to bear him a baby boy while still coming of age herself. She finds compassion in her husband’s second wife, developing in a forbidden love in this beautifully understated tale set in 19th Century Vietnam.
The Watermelon Woman by Cheryl Dunye (USA 1997, 85mins) [CC]
“Sometimes you have to create your own history.” This ‘dunyementary’ tells the story of Cheryl, an aspiring filmmaker (Dunye) who discovers and sets out to solve the mystery of a (fictional) 1940s Black actress known only as the ‘watermelon woman’ in this first feature by an out Black lesbian.
Tomboy by Celine Sciamma (France 2011, 82mins)
Gender identity and expression are explored in this tender coming of age drama from Celine Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Petite Maman). 10-year-old Laure navigates a new identity as ‘Mickael’, a new neighborhood in Paris and a new friendship when Laure meets a local girl Lisa.
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