The annual BFI Woman with a Movie Camera summit returns for a special online edition from 17 to 18 July 2021, this year powered by Jaguar UK. Reflecting on the past year, this year’s programme of more than 20 panels, discussions and Q&As will focus on revitalisation and rebuilding, as well as upskilling and throwing open film and TV industry doors. A weekend pass (£5, or £3 for those aged 25 & under) will give audiences access to pre-recorded interviews and panels, as well as live workshops and interactive sessions on each day.

The programme will include a Q&A with director Claudia Weill, whose landmark portrayal of female friendships, Girlfriends (1978), is re-released in UK cinemas, including BFI Southbank, on 23 July. One of the first films to authentically portray the complexities of female friendship and life in your early 20s, this underrated classic is a true ‘godmother’ to Girls, Frances Ha, Broad City and many other film and TV shows about young women trying to find their way. 

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Also included will be an in-conversation event with Karina Longworth, the American author, historian and film critic behind the hugely popular podcast You Must Remember This, which explores Hollywood’s forgotten histories, telling the stories of many great ‘invisible’ women like pioneering producers Polly Platt and Harriet Parsons. UK film podcasts Girls on Film and Best Girl Grip will also be featured in the summit. 

The summit will welcome Gaylene Gould (The Space to Come) and Mia Bays (Birds Eye View), who will together host a live conversation-workshop – How to Heal Cinema – exploring ways that cinema and its workers can begin to heal from the culture of male violence toward women. Further industry panels will include focuses on intimacy coordinators with leading figures such as Ita O’Brien (to whom Michaela Coel recently dedicated her BAFTA for I May Destroy You), women in XR and feminism in Nordic cinema.  

We’ll also be joined by a panel of leading female film critics, to go Behind the Bylines and explore the professional and personal experiences of being a female critic in a still very male dominated field, and there will be a British east and south-east Asian filmmaker roundtable hosted by BEATS, a not-for-profit advocacy organisation founded by British east and south-east Asians working in the theatre and screen industries. 

Elsewhere in the programme there will be a panel with four creators from the rapidly growing Film TikTok community; an introductory workshop from independent scholar, film critic and filmmaker Catherine Grant on The Joy of Video Essaying; and a look at the art of fan cams and fan edits, the social media trend which originated in K-pop fandom and has recently been used to celebrate everyone and anyone from Timothée Chalamet to Parasite director Bong Joon Ho’s interpreter, Sharon Choi. 

The summit will also be reclaiming Jennifer’s Body (2009), with a critical reevaluation of Karyn Kusama’s film and its journey from ‘box office flop’ to cult classic; reflecting on a landmark in Black LGBTIQ+ cinema, Dee Rees’ exquisite debut Pariah, 10 years after its release; and presenting a filmmaker in focus look at Márta Mészáros, the pioneering Hungarian filmmaker who is subject of a BFI Southbank retrospective throughout July. 

BFI NETWORK will also present a curated programme of short films that were made or debuted during the pandemic, accompanied by a panel with the filmmakers to share some of the stories behind them.

BFI Woman with a Movie Camera Summit powered by Jaguar will take place online from 17 to 18 July 2021. Weekend pass £5 (£3 for ages 25 & under) – on sale from 24 June.

Woman with a Movie Camera is powered by Jaguar and generously supported by Jane Stanton.

Originally published: 23 June 2021