#InternationalWomensDay2021: Women in Film

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, film graduate Ella discusses the impact of Michaela Coel and Thelma and Louise on filmmaking and feminism.

A fictional character that inspires you:

Olive Hoover from Little Miss Sunshine. Olive has the innocent spark of hope and self confidence that all of us women had when we were young (before the world made us doubt every single inch of our beings!). Despite endless, unforgiving obstacles, her faith and determination that she can and will win the beauty pageant is inspiring. An obvious underdog, with speckles of self-doubt, I just want to clutch her, protecting her from the harsh realities of life. Always staying true to herself, and being undeniably brave, I wish we all could be more like Olive.

An artist/creator who inspires you:

Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You was, by far, my favourite show of 2020. Anything I have seen that attempts to tackle issues of rape in TV or film, hasn’t done it with the power, honesty and elegance that Coel achieved with this show. I loved hearing her talk on Louis Theroux’s podcast, where she describes how she, as the creator, doesn’t know whether the characters and their actions are ‘wrong’ or ‘right’, but is simply presenting the situation, totally up for personal interpretation.

A piece of work that defines how you feel about womanhood:

When I saw Thelma and Louise for the first time, I smiled the whole way through. Women are badass, and we don’t get to see it enough. Released in 1991, the film was very progressive, passing the Bechdel Test, and I believe still holds up to this day. They are dissatisfied in their romantic relationships, and their loyal, intimate friendship is what drives the pair’s remarkable story. The iconic freeze-frame ending still gives me chills; They have taken power over their fate, they are finally free. Womanhood for me is all about the enduring support we give each other, and Thelma and Louise shows the utter power and importance of female friendships.

An artist/creator you’d like to recommend to others

I have never been so moved by a film than I was when I watched Waad Al-Kateab’s For Sama. I think we all would like to believe that we understand and acknowledge the hardships of living in a war-torn country, however, this film completely changed my perspective. Al-Kateab’s abilities, not only as a documentary maker, but as a mother, wife and human, are awe inspiring. I would recommend everybody I can to look into her work.

In your chosen medium, what piece of work are you most excited to see 

I am really looking forward to seeing the next James Bond, No Time To Die. An infamously male centric narrative, the Bond films have not aged too well in our increasingly more feminist world. Rumours that there will be a female, black 007 taking over from Daniel Craig’s shoes particularly excites me. Also, knowing that Phoebe Waller-Bridge is on the development team makes me confident that, not only will it be funny, but considerate of the female perspective on the Bond films.

by Ella Sheffield