In celebration of Manchester’s Women In Media conference taking place at the People’s History Museum on the 7th and 8th of March 2020, this week’s recommendation column features the film section’s writers and editors highlighting their favourite female-directed films.
Booksmart – Will Johnston
Labelled by many as being the “female Superbad”, not least because Beanie Feldstein (the joint protagonist) is Jonah Hill’s sister, Booksmart was one of the wittiest and sharpest films of 2019. Comparing it to Superbad does it a disservice; it’s a powerful female collaboration in its own right. Written by four women, directed by Olivia Wilde and starring two female leads (Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) this film follows two best friends and their journey toward being ‘noticed’ – most people’s high school experience! It’s a film so rich in characters that you’ll want to watch it ten times over to capture each and every unique performance.
Happy as Lazzaro – Michal Wasilewski
Set in a beautiful scenery of southern Italy, Alice Rohrwacher’s most widely acclaimed feature follows a young peasant working on a plantation isolated from the outside world. He is so kind, selfless, and honest that he is perceived as naive and therefore exploited by everyone around him. The film’s metaphorical and transcendent story is a frighteningly accurate reflection on late capitalism and how its development has precipitated the rise of egoism, vanity and idleness over kindness, honesty and cooperation.
También la lluvia –Zofia Gryf-Lowczowska
Icíar Bollaín’s También la lluvia (Even the Rain) follows a Mexican film crew who are in Bolivia making a film about Christopher Columbus’ conquest of the Americas. Many of the film’s extras are indigenous Americans, and are horrendously underpaid. Bollaín’s use of the film within a film technique cleverly presents the irony of the situation; the crew are making a film about Columbus’ ill-treatment of indigenous people, whilst they themselves are exploiting indigenous workers, oblivious to their own hypocrisy. Bollaín’s masterpiece is dedicated to portraying the ongoing effect of colonialism on indigenous communities in their daily life with all the realism it deserves.
Clueless – James McCafferty
Amy Heckerling’s teen comedy Clueless is adaptation in the most brilliant sense of the term. In transposing the events of Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma to mid-90s Beverly Hills, it gently satirises its colourful selection of characters without ever mocking them. As heroine Cher Horowitz, Alicia Silverstone delivers a procession of timeless lines and picks out some of the most iconic outfits ever captured on film. If all that isn’t enough to entice you then there’s always peak Paul Rudd giving a career-best performance as teen angst incarnate.
Lost in Translation – Josh Sandy
In many ways, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is the purest depiction of friendship ever committed to film. Against the backdrop of the bustling neon-lit streets of Tokyo, a jaded middle-aged actor (Bill Murray) meets an idealistic twenty-something (Scarlett Johansson) and, united by their troubled relationships and disorientation at the foreign culture, they spark up an unlikely friendship. Although it is often hailed as a romantic film, it is much more than that. It is a truly unique exploration of genuine platonic love and the seismic impact it can have, regardless of how briefly it lasts.
Tickets for this year’s conference are available on Eventbrite and you can get the latest updates on this year’s line-up and timetable by following the Women in Media Conference on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.