Phil on Film Index

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preview - The Birds Eye View Festival 2011

March 8th 2011 is International Women's Day, and – in a neat bit of symmetry – it also marks the start of the 2011 Birds Eye View Film Festival. This festival, which celebrates and promotes the work of female filmmakers both past and present, continues to grow in prominence and it is now enjoying its seventh year. The programme for the 2011 festival was announced this week, and it once again features an eclectic collection of films and events, with new films from around the world lining up alongside classic, female-centred fare from cinema's past.

The highlight in the 2011 programme is the presence of Meek's Cutoff, the latest film from the ever-excellent Kelly Reichardt. It is an extraordinary film, beautiful and strange, and I can't wait to see it again. Another great auteur showing her latest film at the festival is Susanne Bier, whose In a Better World has recently won a Golden Globe and been Oscar-nominated, while Lena Dunham's much talked-about Tiny Furniture is one I'm very curious about. Other films in the lineup that have caught my eye are Night Catches Us and Grown Up Movie Star, while there are some equally interesting offerings in the very strong documentary strand this year. Lucy Walker, an Oscar nominee for her fantastic Waste Land, presents her new documentary Countdown to Zero, while I'll be hoping to catch Guilty Pleasures and Women of Hamas too.

Contemporary cinema is only half of the Birds Eye View programme, however, and there are real gems to be found every year in its archive section. The Sounds and Silents strand is always exciting, with female musicians being commissioned to write and perform new scores to classic silent movies. This year they will be presenting Victor Sjostrom's masterpiece The Wind, the John Barrymore-starring Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and one film I've never heard of before, Sparrows from 1926, starring Mary Pickford. Other classics will be on view in the month-long What a Woman's Gotta Do retrospective at the BFI Southbank. There are some brilliant films showing here – The Night of the Hunter, Fargo, Johnny Guitar, Aliens – as well as a couple, like Stella Dallas and Stage Door that I'm very much looking forward to seeing for the first time.

The 2011 Birds Eye View Festival runs from March 8th to 17th at the BFI Southbank, the ICA and the Southbank Centre. Tickets will be on sale from mid-February. Check the website for further updates.