portrait of a lady on fire

Source: Festival de Cannes

‘Portrait Of A Lady On Fire’

Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire has been voted the best film of 2020 in a poll of UK female and non-binary film critics and commentators.

Conducted by Bechdel Test Fest, which champions representation of women and non-binary people in film, the poll surveyed 76 respondents from organisations and publications including international streamer and distributor Mubi, documentary specialist Dogwoof, the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) and the Barbican.

Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winner Parasite came in second place while third went to Sarah Gavron’s UK drama Rocks.

Of the top 10 titles, eight featured prominent female leads; and seven were from female directors.

Four were written or directed by people of colour while two were not in the English-language, including top title Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, a French period drama that won the Queer Palm and best screenplay at Cannes in 2019.

Submissions did not have to be directed by a woman or have a female lead, nor did it need to pass the Bechdel Test - meaning it would have two named women who have a conversation with each other about something other than a man. However, 15 of the titles pass that test.

Beth Webb, co-manager of Bechdel Test Fest, said: “It would be easy to align a list brimming with female representation in a year when most major studio releases have been bumped to 2021 and beyond. Yet this feels less like a fluke or a one-off event, and more of a positive sign of things to come.”

Bechdel Test Fest poll

  1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma
  2. Parasite, Bong Joon Ho
  3. Rocks, Sarah Gavron
  4. Lovers Rock, Steve McQueen
  5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman
  6. Saint Maud, Rose Glass
  7. Uncut Gems, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
  8. Babyteeth, Shannon Murphy
  9. The Assistant, Kitty Green
  10. Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu
  11. Time, Garrett Bradley
  12. Kajilionaire, Miranda July
  13. Ema, Pablo Larraín
  14. Mogul Mowgli, Bassam Tariq
  15. Shirley, Josephine Decker
  16. Wolfwalkers, Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
  17. Bombshell, Jay Roach
  18. Queen & Slim, Melina Matsoukas
  19. First Cow, Kelly Reichardt
  20. Emma., Autumn de Wilde