It’s Mother’s Day in England and I’d like to use the opportunity to celebrate diversity. There are all kinds of mothers in this world and movies have fortunately portrayed them in various ways. When you look at lists of movies to watch on Mother’s Day, they often list films like Bambi, Aliens, Terminator, Steel Magnolias, Mamma Mia!, The Blind Side, Terms of Endearment, Juno, Beaches or Freaky Friday. Good films, but I’d personally like to add three to the mix.
All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre) – Pedro Amodóvar
A group of strong, courageous feminists won this year’s Skrekkur, which is an annual talent contest, held by the secondary schools in Reykjavik.
Hagaskoli, a school in the West Side District of Reykjavik, won the prize with their feminist poetry and dance. The piece was written and choreographed entirely by the teenage girls themselves, with Una Torfadóttir, Erna Sóley Ásgrímsdóttir og María Einarsdóttir leading the team.
Icelandic women are a force of nature, fighting for equal rights with all means. The winning piece sort of embodied the recent revolutionary campaigns, like #freeTheNipple and #outload. HERE you can read more about what’s been happening this year.
As I’ve said it before; the fight for equality is far from over, but at least the future is bright when young people are as strong and courageous as this!
BFI – London Film Festival is almost over. It’s been fantastic! I can’t decide which film is my favourite, but there are a few I love and some I thoroughly enjoyed watching.
Suffragette is the film I’d been waiting for like a kid waits for Christmas. I wasn’t disappointed, it’s a really good movie and I loved it. Another film I loved is Carol by Todd Haynes with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the leading roles. It’s a brilliant movie. The Lady in the Van will perhaps be too theatrical for some viewers, but I loved it. Watching the fine acting of Dame Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings was a pleasure and I can say the same about Lily Tomlin, starring in that clever little film Grandma. She’s such a good actress and I enjoyed the film. Trumbo was good, not a perfect film but enjoyable. Great actors again, Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren and John Goodman.
This morning I had the pleasure of watching the film Suffragette by director Sarah Gavron, written by Abi Morgan.
Suffragette is a drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality – their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and think it’s fantastic. The cast couldn’t be better; Carey Mulligan is captivating in the leading role of Maud Watts and all the other actors are brilliant. Suffragette is beautifully shot and the set design is perfect. I’ve read reviews by men saying they had difficulties connecting to the film emotionally. They claim that something is lacking in the storyline and the film is too feminist. I don’t understand those remarks and neither did three women I talked to after the press screening. We were all moved by the story and had tears in our eyes.
Meryl Streep plays the role of Emmeline Pankhurst and has been promoting the film, even though she only has one scene. At a press conference this morning she spoke about the need for more female movie critics, and it made me think it’s perhaps not strange how often I don’t agree on which films stand out, or should get more recognition. She said:
‘I went deep, deep, deep, deep into Rotten Tomatoes and I counted how many contributors there were, critics and bloggers and writers. And of those allowed to rate on the Tomatometer, there are 168 women. And I thought, ‘that’s absolutely fantastic.’ If there were 168 men, it would be balanced. If there were 268 men, it would unfair but I’d get used to it. If there were 368, 468, 568…. Actually there are 760 men who weight in on the Tomatometer.’
Meryl also went on the New York Film Critics’ website and found that there were 37 men and only two women.
‘The word isn’t ‘disheartening,’ it’s ‘infuriating.’ I submit to you that men and women are not the same. They like different things. Sometimes they like the same things, but their tastes diverge. If the Tomatometer is slided so completely to one set of tastes, that drives box office in the U.S., absolutely.’
History is at every step in London. Tudor, Victorian and Edwardian architecture is everywhere and as are the stories of famous people who used to live in the buildings.
Guided history walks are really popular here in London. I’ve been on a few of them myself and have never been disappointed. On Saturday, I went to a ‘Historic Local Walk: South Hampstead’, held by Friends of St Mary’s, a charity supporting vulnerable young people.
We had an excellent guide, David Brown, who most definitely knew the art of mixing knowledge and entertainment. I had never heard about the Hampstead murders, nor had I ever heard about Martina Bergman Österberg, a pioneer in physical education for women and a suffragette. I was also introduced to a very different lady, Lillie Langtry, one of the many mistresses of Albert Edward the Prince of Wales.
The house Sean Connery lived in while filming James Bond.
The house where T.S. Eliot was a lodger when he met his first wife Vivienne.
If you are visiting London, I highly recommend going on one of these walks.
The winner was awarded a £2,000 prize and this is what the jury had to say about Rainbow Party: ‘We felt it was brilliantly-performed and incredibly well-crafted, with excellent casting. It is rare to see teenage sexuality so bravely and intelligently interrogated.’
London Calling. BFI. 10/9/2015. Photo from their website.
The film was produced with production funding from Film London, amongst others. Eva Sigurdardottir (director/writer/producer) and Ragnheidur Erlingsdottir (producer) attended the London event at the BFI.
Eva’s production company, Askja Films, has many interesting projects in development, like the documentary The Hot Tub I told you about in June.
‘Eva Sigurdardottir is a BAFTA nominated Film Producer who is based between Reykjavik, Iceland and London, England. Eva’s Producer credits include the BAFTA nominated short film Good Night (2012), as well as Red Reflections (2014), The Substitute (2014), and Foxes (2014). Eva also Line Produced the feature film Rams (2015) by Grímur Hákonarson which premiered at the Festival de Cannes in the Un Certain Regards section and won the prestigious award.
Upcoming projects include the feature film Heartstone (dir: Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson) with Join Motion Pictures, which is due to shoot in the autumn of 2015. Short films in production include Salvation (dir: Thora Hilmarsdottir), the short documentary Hot Tub (dir: Harpa Fönn Sigurjónsdóttir) and Rainbow Party (dir: Eva Sigurdardottir). Eva is also currently developing a range of feature film projects with the directors that she nurtured through short films as well as with new talent.
Eva studied Television Production at the University of Westminster in London, graduating with a first class honours degree in 2008. Since graduating Eva has worked on shorts and feature films, and has travelled the world self-shooting a documentary series on world religions. Eva worked at the BBC for three years, specializing in children’s animation, acquisitions and drama. Later she worked as the Production Manager of the Film & Photography department at the charity Save the Children. Currently Eva is working as a Film Producer in Iceland and the UK for her company Askja Films, as well as she is employed at Netop Films as a Producer and Project Manager. Her work at Netop Films include Line Producing the feature film Rams (2015) by Grímur Hákonarsson and the feature documentary Óli Prik (2015) by Árni Sveinsson.’
Last night was a night of celebration in Iceland. For the first time, the national team in men’s football has secured a spot at a major international tournament thanks to their point from a goalless draw with Kazakhstan. They are through to the UEFA Euro 2016, held in France next summer.
I’m happy for the men’s team to finally be able to celebrate what the Icelandic women’s football team has celebrated three times already, in 1995, 2009 and 2013.
I remember my grandma putting on her best clothes before going to the polling station to vote. Her face lit up when she told me how lucky I was to have the right to vote. If you don’t vote, she said, then you have no right to an opinion about the outcome.
Today Icelandic women celebrate 100 years of suffrage. June 19th in 1915, Icelandic women and servants gained the parliamentary vote. However, the rights were restricted to those over forty years of age. Five years later, the suffrage laws were modified and everyone got equal voting rights. Read more about the struggle for voting rights and the amazing pioneer Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, a driving force in the fight for women’s suffrage, which led to women being granted the right to vote at local elections in 1907, the right to education and political office in 1911, and full suffrage in 1915.
Icelandic women are still a force of nature, fighting for equal rights with all means. Recent revolutionary campaigns have left me speechless and I’m grateful for the courage of those amazing women.
The #FreeTheNipple campaign is focused on fighting double standards regarding the censorship of female breasts. It had been around for a while but when a 17 year old Icelandic girl posted a photo on Twitter showing her nipples and was mocked by a young man, countless Icelandic women rose to her defence and posted their own nipple photos with the hashtag #freethenipple. The movement grew stronger by the minute and was noticed by international media like The Independent and Buzzfeed. This was in March but the movement is still going strong: women and men soaked up the sun topless in front of the parliament building few days ago.
The other campaign was heartbreaking and empowering at the same time. When a woman asked if anyone had experienced sexual abuse, in a closed Facebook group called Beauty Tips, she received hundreds of comments. Women started telling their stories, some of them for the first time. This resulted in a social media campaign aiming to tear down the wall of silence around rape and sexual abuse. On Twitter, they used the hashtags #outloud, #konurtala (“women speak”) and #þöggun (“silenced”). Lots of Icelandic women changed their Facebook profile pictures to yellow or orange images of sad-face emoticons, or sometimes a mixture of both, to show how widespread sexual violence is. You can read more about it in The Independent and Reykjavik Grapevine.
The fight for equality is far from over, but at least the future is bright when young people are as strong and courageous as this.
Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, photo: Kvennasögusafn Íslands