Showcase of new work by international women filmmakers to end after 10 years due to financial pressures.

The Birds Eye View Film Festival will cease from this year after nine annual editions. Over a decade of activity, the showcase of films by international women directors included the UK premieres of features from Drew Barrymore (Whip It), Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) and Kim Longinotto (Sisters In Law) among others.

The festival, which ran in April, also provided development to more than 30 female screenwriters through three Labs and 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.

Founder Rachel Millward said financial pressures had led to the demise of the festival. “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,” said Millward.

“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.”

Celebration of female filmmakers

Birds Eye View began as a short film event in 2002 and launched an international film festival in 2005 to 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. Since then there has been the launch of Underwire, a festival for British women making short films, which has begun to champion and support emerging talent; and the Women Of The World (WOW) festival at the Southbank Centre, which gives women across the arts a dedicated space each year.

Gerova who stepped down as BEV creative director at the end of last year, 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.”

Future initiatives

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.

Filmonomics is supported by Creative Skillset and develops film finance, marketing and distribution knowledge for participants. 

Project director Mia Bays said: “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.