19 AUGUST 2015

The film industry is shown time and again to be sexist and male-dominated. This shouldn’t be surprising, since we live in a sexist world where men hold most of the power and the film industry is just one part of that world.

This affects what we see on screen, as films by women are more likely to have female characters and those characters are less likely to be sex objects.

This in turn has a wider impact, since films are so embedded in our cultures and form the way we see the world. Advertisers wouldn’t spend billions on adverts if we weren’t affected by what we see.

As they say: ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’.

The London Feminist Film Festival was set up in response to these inequalities – to provide a platform for women filmmakers, and to screen films with positive female role models. Many of the films we show deal directly with feminist issues, as part of our aim is to get these issues out into the mainstream more, to inspire discussion and change.

We screen films by women directors from around the world, and try to show a variety of perspectives and subjects. We have lively panel discussions after each screening, with feminist activists, filmmakers, academics and others, where we discuss the films and the feminist issues they deal with.

Women are oppressed in every country in the world. There is not one place where we have equality. Violence against women is an epidemic and is a central part of our oppression around the world – at least one in three women will directly experience it in our lifetimes. In the UK alone, two women a week are murdered by their male partner and one in 20 women are sexually abused in childhood. Plus the pay gap is over 19% and we still don’t have equal representation in parliament or on company boards. There is a long way to go and a lot to fight for.

The films we will show at London Feminist Film Festival this August from the 20th to the 23rd at the Rio and Tricycle Cinemas have confirmed for me that change does not just happen – it is not inevitable. Rather, it is fought for tooth and nail – women work, fight, and sometimes die for it. Like Radha Paudel, an activist working to improve women’s lives in rural Nepal, featured in the film But They Can’t Break Stones, who manages to maintain humour and patience in the face of engrained misogynist attitudes. And like the inspiring, brave survivors of rape at US universities, in film It Happened Here, who fight for justice for themselves and for other women.

Films like these show us that everyone can make a difference, that we can all play our part in fighting for a better world. Inspired by these role models on our screens, we can ‘be the change we want to see’.

Anna Read, Director of the London Feminist Film Festival ABOUT AUTHOR 

Anna Read, Director of the London Feminist Film Festival