Category: news

New Study Finds Female-Led Films Outperform Their Male-Led Equivalents

A new study from Shift7 and CAA has found that blockbusters with female leads outperformed their male-led equivalents at the global Box Office between 2014 and 2017.

The report looked at data on the revenue for the 350 highest grossing films within the four year period, and found the results for female-led films came out on top at every budget level.

The data also indicates that films that pass the Bechdel Test – which is a simple tool to measure whether women on-screen are reresented and have agency independent of the male characters – surpass the box office returns of films that fail the test.

CAA agent Christy Haubegger commented: “Women comprise half the box office, yet there has been an assumption in the industry that female-led films led were generally less successful. We found that the data does not support that assumption.”

Read more here.

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WFTV Awards 2018: And The Winners Are…

Actress Juliet Stevenson was today awarded The EON Productions Lifetime Achievement Award at the 28th annual Women in Film & Television (UK) Awards.

Hosted by Sandi Toksvig and supported by headline sponsor Sky, the prestigious event saw film and television’s finest come together at London’s Park Lane Hilton Hotel to celebrate the year’s most inspiring and talented women in the industry. Guests included Stephen Mangan, Mackenzie Crook, Brenda Blethyn, Michaela Coel, Katie Piper, Victoria Coren, Hayley Atwell, Katherine Ryan and Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Award winning actress, Juliet Stevenson’s career has spanned TV, film and theatre and has seen her nominated three times for the BAFTA TV Best Actress Award and once for BAFTA Film, for her leading role in Truly, Madly, Deeply. Juliet has also won Best Actress at the Olivier Awards for Death and the Maiden and has been nominated another four times. Notable film appearances include Emma, Bend It Like Beckham, Mona Lisa Smile, Being Julia, and Infamous. But the one constant is her choice of roles: “I’ve been working on this all my life, shifting the images of women on stage and screen, shifting them away from cliché.” And she says: “I’m really blown away to get this bit of recognition,”

Actress, writer, playwright and director, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was awarded the The ScreenSkills Writing Award. Phoebe is best known for creating and starring in two sitcoms, Channel 4’s Crashing and BBC Three’s adaptation of Fleabag, as well as for writing and producing the hugely popular BBC drama Killing Eve. Waller-Bridge strives to create characters who defy feminine stereotypes in TV, and in the process has made global audiences fall in love with them.

The ITV Studios Achievement of the Year Award was won by Jameela Jamil – a former presenter who is now starring in US sitcom The Good Place. Jameela is an active campaigner challenging the assumptions society makes about body size and earlier this year set up an Instagram account called ‘I weigh,’ to challenge society’s fixation with body weight. She suggests instead that her online followers consider the many other factors that make us who we are.

The Pinewood Studios Best Performance Award was won by Nicola Walker and announced by Stephen Mangan, her co-star in the recent drama The Split. Known for her starring roles in various British television programmes, including Collateral and Unforgotten, Nicola has also worked in theatre, radio and film. She won the 2013 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress for the BBC drama Last Tango in Halifax.

Up and coming director and screenwriter, Rungano Nyoni won the The Netflix New Talent Award, for her award-winning work across several short and feature films. Nyoni is best known for writing and directing I Am Not a Witch, her debut feature film, which won her a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut in 2018 and also garnered accolades from several international film festivals. Meanwhile, Hettie MacDonald received The Deluxe Director Award for her work on Howards End, Fortitude and Doctor Who.

Sandi Toksvig was presented The EIKON Presenter Award by Victoria Coren-Mitchell. Sandi was recognised for her work as a comedian and television presenter and is currently hosting The Great British Bake Off. She also presents BBC’s QI, the quiz show 1001 Things You Should Know and hosted The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4. She is also joint founder of the Women’s Equality Party.

The Film Finances Project Management Award went to production manager Arabella Gilbert for her work on a wide range of productions including Jason Bourne, The Night Manager, Killing Jesus, The Man From UNCLE and Hercules. While editor Selina MacArthur was presented with The Technicolor Creative Technology Award for her work cutting comedy, drama and action for the last decade, including Flowers, The Bisexual, Dr Who, Humans and Law & Order: UK. Her latest project included a collaboration with director Toby Haynes on the USS CALLISTER episode of Netflix’s binge worthy Black Mirror.

Katie Piper presented the The Panalux Craft Award to Eunice Huthart for her outstanding work as a stunt double for such stars as Angelina Jolie (Salt, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Famke Janssen (James Bond: Golden Eye), Milla Jovovich, and Uma Thurman. Whilst Gill Isles took home The ENVY Producer Award for her work on Detectorists which won the Rose d’Or for Best Comedy Series in 2018. She was presented the award by Detectorists star Mackenzie Crook.

Lucy Ainsworth Taylor and Angela Barson picked up The Barclays Business Award as co-founders of BlueBolt, one of London’s most respected Visual Effects company. In 2009 Lucy realised there was a need for VFX companies that could cover both high-end TV and films and formed BlueBolt along with business partner Angela. Recent work includes The Little Drummer Girl, Holmes and Watson and Johnny English Strikes Again. They were presented the award by ROMA producer, Gaby Rodriguez.

American-born, award-winning documentary film-maker and producer Norma Percy picked up the The Argonon Contribution to the Medium Award for her work in documentaries, including Inside Obama’s White House, The Iraq War, Putin, Russia and the West and Iran and the West amongst many others. The BBC News and Factual Award went to Deeyah Khan – a two-time Emmy Award-winning and twice BAFTA-nominated documentary film director; she is the founder of Fuuse, a media and arts company that puts women, people from minorities, and third-culture children at the heart of telling their own stories.

WFTV Chair Liz Tucker: “Sifting through the huge numbers of nominations for our awards, it quickly becomes apparent just how many extraordinarily talented women there are working in film and TV today. (At the Awards) we celebrate their achievements, which I hope will give inspiration across the industry to all women battling to make a difference.”

WFTV Board member and Head of Diversity for ITV Commissioning, Ade Rawcliffe said: “One of the most striking aspects of our unique awards is the huge diversity of our winners. What our annual ceremony clearly shows is the huge achievements women from all backgrounds can make when they are given the right opportunities”.

Full list of winners:

The Barclays Business Award: Lucy Ainsworth Taylor and Angela Barson
The Technicolor Creative Technology Award: Selina MacArthur
The Panalux Craft Award: Eunice Huthart
The ENVY Producer Award: Gill Isles
The EIKON Presenter Award: Sandi Toksvig
The Film Finances Project Management Award: Arabella Gilbert
The Netflix New Talent Award: Rungano Nyoni
The ITV Studios Achievement of the Year Award: Jameela Jamil
The Deluxe Director Award: Hettie Macdonald
The Screen Skills Writing Award: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The Pinewood Studios Best Performance Award: Nicola Walker
The BBC News and Factual Award: Deeyah Khan
The Argonon Contribution to the Medium Award: Norma Percy
The EON Productions Lifetime Achievement Award: Juliet Stevenson

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Refuge statement on the Claire and Charlotte Hart domestic homicide review

As the domestic homicide review into the murders of Claire and Charlotte Hart is published, Refuge calls for greater awareness amongst professionals of the dangers of coercive control.

In July 2016, Claire Hart was killed at the hands of her husband, Lance, before he killed their daughter Charlotte and then himself. Brothers – and Refuge champions – Luke and Ryan Hart were working overseas at the time, but have talked since about the controlling behaviour to which Lance had subjected the family for decades.

While the review released today does not identify specific failings of the system, it does highlight the need for greater awareness of the risks of coercive control and the opportunities professionals and members of the public had to ask questions about possible domestic abuse.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge said:

“It is critical that all professionals who potentially come into contact with survivors of domestic abuse are able to recognise and understand fully the many forms of domestic abuse, especially non-physical violence like coercive control. Professionals have a duty to ask the right questions and offer appropriate support, as they are likely to be the first person to whom a victim might suggest they are experiencing abuse.

“While the domestic homicide review that looked into the killings of Clare and Charlotte Hart did not identify any specific failings, a number of family members had been to see health professionals and alluded to problems at home. This case reflects the real need for health professionals and others to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and probe overtly.”

Ms. Horley also stressed that everyone has a role to play in ending domestic violence and supporting women: “Domestic abuse – physical and non-physical – is not a private matter, something to leave behind closed doors, or something to be ignored for fear of being seen as interfering. It is a crime, which affects 1 in 4 women in their lifetime. Two women are killed at the hands of their current or former partners, each week in England and Wales. Domestic abuse is a matter of life and death. We all have a duty to speak out and challenge violence against women and girls.”

Coercive control was criminalised in December 2015, but many people still do not recognise the signs nor realise it is a crime.

“For many women, the bruises and wounds of abuse are not visible on the surface. A large proportion of victims never suffer physical abuse,” said Ms. Horley. “Eight out of 10 of the women Refuge supported last year had suffered psychological abuse, on average for a period of six years. But, still, many people do not know that coercive control is a crime. Coercive control and non-physical abuse need to be talked about far more widely in the media and in society at large.”


For media queries, email or ring 0207 395 7731 (out of hours and weekend enquiries: 07970 894240)


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Refuge, UK’s largest domestic violence charity, unveils chilling reversible poems to expose hidden nature of domestic violence at Christmas

  • Hard-hitting reversible poems to spotlight domestic violence and offer support to women and children this Christmas
  • Refuge initiative launches on day nine of ‘16 days of action’ – a global initiative to raise awareness of violence against women and girls
  • Poems tell harrowing domestic abuse tale when read in reverse order

3 December 2018: Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, has created a series of menacing poems that tell the story of women and children who have experienced domestic violence at Christmas.

Even now in 2018, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  Two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.  And on average, another three women a week commit suicide as a way of escape.

To raise awareness of this growing epidemic, which is often overlooked during the festive season, Refuge is publishing a series of three reversible poems, to emphasise the severity and pervasiveness of domestic violence at Christmas.

Read one way, the poems tell a positive story, but when read in reverse they depict the terrifying reality of living with a perpetrator of domestic violence. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the hidden, insidious nature of domestic violence, and lets victims know that, when their partner ‘turns’ and becomes controlling, they can turn to Refuge for the support they need to escape and rebuild their lives.

Actress Maxine Peake is supporting this campaign by reading one of the poems.  Maxine said:

I’m delighted to support Refuge’s Christmas campaign to raise awareness of the terrifying reality that women and children face when they live with a perpetrator of domestic violence. Nobody should have to live in fear in their own home at any time of the year, but for those who do, it’s a relief to know that they can turn to Refuge’s services throughout the country and know that they will be listened to, believed and supported to rebuild their lives free from violence and coercion.”

Refuge believes that no-one should have to live in fear of violence and abuse. On any given day Refuge supports more than 6,500 survivors, helping them to escape violence and fear and rebuild their lives.

Men who abuse their partners are often charming and charismatic at the beginning of the relationship, and then ‘turn’ into controlling and often violent aggressors over time. This campaign aims to capture this experience and reassure victims that they are not alone. Two of the hard-hitting poems tell the stories of female victims, and the third tells the story of a child who witnesses and experiences domestic violence at Christmas.

Refuge’s reversible poems campaign launches on day nine of ‘16 days of action,’ a global movement to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. From 25 November, the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. Refuge’s reversible poems highlight this crucial issue and offer victims support, no matter the time of the year.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:

Two women are killed by their current or former partners every week in England and Wales alone.  Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today – it really is a life and death issue. Yet still too few women know how to spot the signs of domestic violence, realise that domestic abuse is a crime or know that Refuge is here to support them.  Domestic violence happens all year round – including at Christmas.  We want women to know that no matter what time of year, no one should suffer in silence and they should ‘turn’ to us for support.”

Get help now. If your partner turns on you, turn to us. If you are in need of support please visit:


For further information and press queries to Refuge, please contact:

Email or ring 0207 395 7731.

Lisa King, director of communications can respond to out of hours and weekend enquiries on 07799 712293

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2018 Women in Film and Television Awards

The 2018 Women in Film and Television Awards, supported by Sky, take place in London on the afternoon of Friday 7 December. The ceremony will be hosted by presenter Sandi Toksvig.

To find out more about the Awards, click here.

To follow all the action, follow #WFTVAwards on Twitter.

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Record number of women selected for Sundance competition

The official selection for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in Park City (Utah) from 24 January to 3 February 2019 has been announced.

Of the 61 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 42% are women, 39% are people of color, and 23% identify as LGBTQIA.

The festival received a record-breaking 14,259 submissions from 152 countries. Of the feature film submissions, 31% were directed by one or more women; 38% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 11% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. One-hundred and twelve feature-length films have been selected in total, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers.

A number of UK productions and co-productions made the selection, including WFTV Patron Gurinder Chadha’s latest project, Blinded by the Light, which is set in 1987 – during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain – and tells the story of a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Chadha’s film is screening in the Premieres programme, alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which was produced by Andrea Calderwood and WFTV member Gail Egan.

All three of the UK productions/co-productions selected in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition programme were directed by women; Dirty God (Dir. Sacha Polak), The Last Tree (Dir. Shola Amoo) and The Souvenir (Dir. Joanna Hogg). Writer and WFTV member Susanne Farrell co-wrote Dirty God with the film’s director, Sacha Polak.

Director and 2015 WFTV Award winner, Kim Longinotto’s latest project Shooting the Mafia will screen in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Whilst producer and WFTV member Victoria Gregory’s feature, Maiden (Dir. Alex Holmes) will screen in the Spotlight programme.

To see the full list of announced films, click here.

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Principal Photography Begins on Philippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehaviour

Principal photography has today (26 November) begun on Misbehaviour, a dramedy based on the true story of the 1970 Miss World contest and its disruption by the newly founded Women’s Liberation Movement. The film will shoot in and around London over the next nine weeks, and is directed by 2017 WFTV Award winner Philippa Lowthorpe (Three Girls) from an original script written by Rebecca Frayn (The Lady) with revisions by Gaby Chiappe (Their Finest).

In addition to the previously announced cast of Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha Raw and Jessie Buckley, new members of the ensemble announced include Oscar nominees Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) and Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread); BAFTA winner Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard) and BAFTA nominee Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill); and BAFTA winner Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey).

Lowthorpe’s creative team includes: Production Designer, Cristina Casali (The Death of Stalin); Make Up and Hair Designer, Jill Sweeney (The Theory of Everything); Costume Designer, Charlotte Walter (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society); Director of Photography, Zac Nicholson (The Death of Stalin); and Editor, Una Ni Dhonghaile (Three Girls), who was also a WFTV Award winner in 2017.

The film is being produced by BAFTA nominee Suzanne Mackie (The Crown, Calendar Girls) and Sarah-Jane Wheale. Executive Producers are Andy Harries and Rebecca Frayn for Left Bank; Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé; Rose Garnett for BBC Films, Natascha Wharton for the BFI; and Andrea Scarso for Ingenious.

The plot

In 1970, the Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by US comedy legend, Bob Hope. At the time, Miss World was the most-watched TV show on the planet with over 100 million viewers. Claiming that beauty competitions demeaned women, the newly-formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition. Not only that, when the show resumed, the result caused uproar: the winner was not the Swedish favourite but Miss Grenada – the first black woman to be crowned Miss World. In a matter of hours, a global audience had witnessed the patriarchy driven from the stage and the Western ideal of beauty turned on its head.

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Refuge responds to latest ONS Crime Survey figures on domestic abuse

The Office for National Statistics released their latest figures on domestic abuse on 11 November.

Responding to the figures, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said:

“The latest ONS Crime Survey figures on domestic abuse reflect the shocking reality that Refuge’s frontline staff see every day. More women than men experience partner abuse, significantly more women are killed by their partners than men, far too few male perpetrators​ are arrested and even fewer convictions are obtained.

“1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. The majority do not go to the police, but rely on organisations like Refuge to help them escape and rebuild their lives. When so few arrests are made and so few victims get justice, it doesn’t encourage others to go through what can be a traumatic process.

“A light must be shone on the huge gulf between the estimated scale of domestic abuse in England and Wales and the small number of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of violent men for these crimes. It is scandalous that so many women’s lives are torn apart by current or former partners.”

While the overall prevalence of domestic abuse shows little change, Refuge is glad that the figures reflect the gendered nature of domestic abuse; around twice as many women reported partner abuse in the last year than men and over 70% of domestic homicide victims were female.

The police recorded a 23% rise in reported domestic abuse cases, in part reflecting improvements by police forces in identifying and recording such incidents as crimes and an increased willingness by victims to come forward.

However, it is especially alarming that this increase was accompanied by a drop in the numbers of subsequent prosecutions. Over half of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police did not result in an arrest and a large proportion faced difficulties in proceeding with prosecution.

It is also important to flag that the measurement of domestic abuse in the Crime Survey is particularly broad, including partner abuse (non-sexual), family abuse (non-sexual) , sexual assault and stalking carried out by a current or former partner or another family member. Yet, conversely, the picture is lacking given that the Survey does not capture the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour.

For Refuge, the overwhelming shortcoming of these figures is the misleading picture of the prevalence of domestic abuse that they present, reflecting the proportion of men experiencing domestic abuse as higher than it actually is.

The Crime Survey frames domestic abuse in terms of people who have ever experienced a single incident of physical violence from an intimate partner or family member. This is problematic regarding coercive control and domestic abuse as a pattern of behaviour, rather than a series of single incidents.

For years, the ONS has also artificially capped the number of domestic abuse offences that can be recorded for each person at five. This means that even if a woman experienced 100 incidents of domestic violence, only five would make it into the official data.

At Refuge, we recognise that these figures do not reflect the reality for many victims who experience a pattern of abuse, nor the level of seriousness of abuse or the number of people living in fear of their partners.”

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Rungano Nyoni Awarded 2018 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship

BAFTA award-winning writer and director of I Am Not a Witch, Rungano Nyoni has been awarded the 2018 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, which is presented in partnership with BFI and Film4.

Nyoni was selected from over 100 names nominated by the film and television industries and receives a £30,000 award and a year-long, tailored experience that includes access to some of the most exciting scientific and humanities research in the world.

The award recognises the Welsh-Zambian’s distinct film-making style. I Am Not a Witch was her debut feature, it premiered in Cannes to critical acclaim and Nyoni went on to win a BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Debut.

Previous recipients of the Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship are writer/directors Sally Wainwright, Carol Morley and Clio Barnard.

Read more here.

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The WFTV committee team in NI hosted a special panel discussion entitled Screen Queens at last week’s Belfast Media Festival with some of the leading ladies of the creative industries in Northern Ireland. Actress Bronagh Waugh, Casting Director Carla Stronge, WFTV Board Member Anne Morrison, Independent Producer Kelda Crawford McCann and Carson McDowell Partner Olivia O’Kane sharing their opinions on the key issues affecting them with BBC NI’s Marie Louise Muir asking the tough questions.

Jannine Waddell, Chair, WFTV NI Committee introduced the panel to a packed theatre in Belfast’s The MAC theatre saying: “Screen Queens was an idea I had for some time to raise the profile of women working in the creative industries. The panellists will reflect on how far they think the representation of women on our screens has come in recent years, and how far women still have to go in Northern Ireland.”


The session was run under Chatham House Rules which created a healthy engagement by all the panellists.


Northern Ireland’s Screen Queens discussed the high numbers of women who leave film and television after having children, how they themselves coped as working mums in the industry, why men never get asked about child-rearing and what they think could be done better. When it came to the gender pay gap the panel advised women to be prepared to put their case forward and ask for what they are worth. Headline grabbing hashtags, I Believe Her, Me Too, Time’s Up and the abortion referendum result in Ireland raised healthy debate and questions from the audience in the light of Harvey Weinstein revelations and the equally divisive Ulster Rugby Trial and subsequent #Ibelieveher campaigning.


It was an engaging session by Northern Ireland’s WFTV committee which followed recent workshops on publicity and social media; funding and post production since its inception last year with more workshops and events planned in 2019.