I spend a lot of time writing news stories about new festivals and cinemas opening, sadly today it is time for the other side of the coin to land face up. Bird's Eye View Film Festival- the festival devoted to showcasing the contribution of women in film in all areas of production - has just announced it can no longer continue operating. 2014's festival looks like being the last, for now. Financial reasons are quoted as the cause, though some training programmes and screenings will continue in the same vein as the proper festival.
The official press release is below and can be seen here:
After 10 years of activity and nine international film festivals, Birds Eye View will no longer produce film festivals from 2015. Activity will continue in the form of Filmonomics, training for women filmmakers as devised by BEV’s recent Creative Director Kate Gerova, continued bespoke exhibition programmes and an International Women’s Day screening on March 8 at the BFI Southbank.
Birds Eye View began as a short film event in 2002 and an international film festival in 2005 in order to throw a spotlight on the fact that only 7% of feature film directors were women. The aim was to celebrate diverse female filmmaking talent, and inspire and equip the next generation to break new ground. There was, at that time, no other platform for women filmmakers in the UK, and the overwhelming support received from both press and industry made clear that this was a much needed focus. Since then, the conversation around women filmmakers has been taken on by press and industry; Underwire, a festival for British women making short films, has begun to champion and support emerging talent; and the Women Of The World (WOW) festival at the Southbank Centre gives women across the arts a dedicated space each year.
Founder Rachel Millward states: “I am proud that the Birds Eye View Film Festival has been such a dynamic part of the conversation around women filmmakers over the last decade. I think it’s a loss to British film that we will no longer have an annual celebration of international talent, but we simply have not been able to find a way financially to sustain the work of the festival any longer. The journey for women filmmakers continues and progresses, and I am delighted that Birds Eye View will turn its attention to equipping women filmmakers to succeed in film through brilliant new initiatives like Filmonomics.”
Former creative director Kate Gerova who stepped down at the end of 2014, said, “one of the clearest messages I heard as the director was that filmmakers want to be judged by their work and not their gender. Lack of equality and diversity is an industrial problem and addressing this will be to the benefit of audiences everywhere when they see better representation on screen facilitated by a more diverse filmmaking community. At BEV we have turned our resources into developing training to address some of the barriers that seem to come up repeatedly.”
Filmonomics is supported by Creative Skillset and develops film finance, marketing and distribution knowledge for participants. Mia Bays, Project Director commented “feedback from the first iteration shows that bespoke filmmaker training which is both inward and outward looking makes an impact. Filmonomics II has developed to support a new group of talented practitioners across 2015”.
Birds Eye View recently completed an international training programme in Cuba in association with the British Council and is now looking to partner with international platforms for the development of Filmonomics International.
The Birds Eye View Film Festival ran from 2005 to 2014. It showcased the best new work by international women filmmakers. Programmes included UK premieres of Sisters in Law (Kim Longinotto), Whip It, (Drew Barrymore), Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham) as well as programmes of films made by women from developing countries, including African Academy Award Winning Wanuri Kahiu and a festival dedicated to Arab Women Flimmakers in 2013.
Birds Eye View Film Festival commissioned over 30 female musicians through Sound & Silents to compose and perform new live scores to silent films celebrating the contribution of pioneer women filmmakers from the beginning of cinema, and provided development to over 30 female screenwriters through three Labs.