Who run the world? Girls…
I celebrated International Women’s day in the best way possible. My close friend and collaborator, Jessica Kathryn, presented me with tickets to a screening, followed by a Q&A at the BFI South Bank. Showcasing the work of four talented female filmmakers, the event was a real nod to the versatility, technique and fresh perspective women can bring to the industry. Unfortunately, this is often ignored and I find myself cringing at the outdated, stagnating attitudes of those on top. I’m sick to death of watching desperate, shallow airheads or bolshie, ball breaking, beer drinking lesbians as men can only muster the courage to write within these stereotypes. The bottom line is, some men can write women - but only some, and only a certain percentage of those films are screened at mainstream cinemas. Women can write women honestly and poetically and that’s my mission in life. To write the characters that align with actual human beings; not empty vessels drawn up to represent a concept or an ideology.
'Kick-Ass Women' consisted of three films. The first was 'ARCADE' by Nida Manzoor. This was my personal favourite. The script was cutting and original, the exchange and delivery between the two leads was spot on and the content was accurate and relevant to women of my generation. However, considering the feminist currents running through the piece, I was surprised by Nida's attitude during the Q&A session afterwards. When discussing gender inequality and the need for strong, female-centric narratives, Nida claimed that she wasn't writing women to 'tick a box'. To me, this sums up a reoccurring problem. Female filmmakers have become 'niche', which is completely ridiculous in itself. But even more worryingly, women who write about women are dismissed as having a 'chip on their shoulder' or allowing political values to overcome their creativity. No. Some women write women because they are women. (Groundbreaking right?) Other women write women because they notice an absence of prominent female characters onscreen. But for the most part, women write women because, like me, they are tired with the consistently terrible representation of our gender. Women are almost afraid to admit that nowadays. Opportunities are scarce and hard to come by for everybody now, but even more so for women. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe a mere 15% of professionals working within the film industry are female. Women write women because they can and they will and they should. We can give each other platforms, opportunities and most importantly, a voice. Women are complex, as we are all aware and rarely do I watch a film and think: 'Oh, she reminds me of my Mum', 'That's exactly what my best friend would say', 'Hey wait, she's just like me!'. There are a whole variety of interesting histories and personas out there just waiting to be explored. We owe it to those women to tell their stories. One day I want to be able to relate to a female character properly, on a psychological and cellular level.
And I don’t want to have to write her myself.