Many of us were shocked and saddened to hear in late October that the Birds Eye View film festival won’t be happening in 2012 due to lack of funding. The festival’s founder and creator Rachel Millward says that the festival will be back, but without the money, a full-blown festival cannot happen this coming year.
Birds Eye View first launched in 2005, and has grown up to audience of 12,000, plus another 6,000 from touring, and an added 650,000 via online and broadcast channels. They work with and showcase female filmmakers like Mary Harron, Wanuri Kahiu, actresses such as Rosamond Pike and Jo Brand, and even female musicians like Imogen Heap. Last year they even screened In a Better World, which went on to win an Oscar.
As Millward wrote in the Guardian this morning,
“It has inspired emerging female film-makers to keep pursuing their dreams, and offered a much-valued, high-profile platform to hundreds of film-makers from around the world.
“A huge achievement for a micro-organisation. But what about funding?”
The BEV film festival has received funding in the past from organizations like the UK Film Council's Diversity Grant in Aid, however, since the quick closure of UK Film Council, and its transference of funds to the BFI, the BEV was left with 90% drop in the festival budget.
While this may not seem like a big deal, and while it’s easy to say, “Oh, not to worry, someone will come up with the money to help out...” like we all thought would happen with Luella, it’s incredibly important that the BEV sticks around. Not only is the festival aspect of BEV, as Millward says, “vital to our culture”, it’s profoundly important to the film industry.
The BEV was set up because only 7% of directors are women.
In 2011, women still make up less than 10% of filmmakers and 15% of screenwriters.
This means, as we saw in Miss Representation, that the overwhelming majority of stories that we see in film are created by men. We are getting almost all of our entertainment and our stories from men, not women. It’s a male eye behind that camera lens, not a female one - so no wonder so many films about women don’t exactly ring true. If women are hardly involved in the majority of the films being created, how are we meant to ever be represented and portrayed accurately?
Millward closed her article in the Guardian by stating, “We do not live in an equal world. If we lose the best efforts of the last decade to counter inequality, we will lose access to the creative vision of half the population,” and she couldn’t be more correct.
The film industry needs the Birds Eye View festival to happen year in, and year out. So, what can we do to help?