Female Directors at the 59th BFI London Film Festival

In a notoriously male-dominated field, female directors are often overlooked. However, this year’s BFI London Film Festival is about to change that. Already dubbed the “year of strong women,” a number of films featured in this year’s festival are directed by females, proving just how successful women directors are in the industry. Varying in experience, genres, and directorial styles, take a look at some of the important female directors and their films featured at this year’s festival.


Sarah Gavron will soon be on everyone’s radar. Though she already has several films under her belt, Gavron’s directorial talent is about to shine through, as her film, Suffragette, was selected for this year’s Opening Night Gala. Suffragette follows one woman who joins the fight for women’s suffrage in England at the turn of the 20th century, and chronicles womens’ struggles in their fight for equality. Excitement is buzzing about Gavron’s film, which has been one of the most talked about films to see at the festival this year. This film is sure to bring Gavron success, and give her the opportunity to truly make a name for herself as a director

Chanya ButtonBURN, BURN, BURN

Newcomer Chanya Button’s film is surely one to watch out for at this year’s festival. Dedicated to directing films that have “strong female characters which aim to inspire and entertain a broad audience,”—according to her production company—Button is proving herself with her newest film, Burn, Burn, Burn. In the film, two female friends begin a road trip after the death of a friend, spreading his ashes at different points along the way. This story of friendship and self-discovery will take audiences through a wave of emotions, allowing Button to prove herself with her debut as a feature director.

Athina Rachel Tsangari CHEVALIER

After her 2010 breakthrough with her second feature Attenburg, Athina Rachel Tsangari is back with her highly-anticipated third feature, Chevalier. In a comical yet dramatic film, Tsangari brings into focus the long-standing concept of rivalry and the male ego, but through a female interpretation. Six men on a boat in the Aegean Sea compete in an assortment of tests designed by random criteria to decide who amongst them is “best.” After anxiously awaiting her return, Tsangari’s cleverly directed film will not disappoint, and is sure bring her repeated success just like her previous films


As both the writer and director of her debut film, Sanna Lenken’s obvious skill is nothing short of spectacular. Crafting her film, My Skinny Sister, partially from her own battle with anorexia, Lenken has created a film that confronts the serious issues of body image and eating disorders. Lenken’s authenticity in her portrayal of eating disorders and the effect they can have on relationships between families, friends, and oneself is something that everyone can relate to, adults and young people alike. Lenken’s film has already won an audience award at Gothenburg Film Festival as well as a Crystal Bear at Berlinale, and is one to watch out for at this year’s film festival.


Documentary filmmaker Maya Newell is sure to gain attention this year with her documentary Gayby Baby. Growing up in a same-sex household, Newell refers to herself as a ‘gayby,’ a friendly term coined by children growing up with same-sex parents to represent themselves. Newell’s own experience and insight sparked her interest in creating this documentary, which follows the lives of four Australian children with gay parents. The documentary highlights the personal struggles these 11 and 12-year-olds face in everyday life, whilst dealing with the social pressures and prejudice they face as children of gay couples. Newell believes there’s a stigma against children growing up in same-sex households, and hopes her documentary will wipe away those negative views and dismiss society’s stereotypes towards same-sex families.

All of these films will be screening at the BFI London Film Festival, 7 October to 18 October 2015.

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