What is behind the new wave of genre film making in the UK by female directors? | New
British writer and director Corinna Faith has joined Lizzie Francke, Senior Director of Production and Development at BFI Film Fund, and Sophie Green, Head of Acquisitions and Development at Bankside, to explore the creative and business reasons fueling the growing popularity genre films directed by British directors. , including Faith The power, Rose Glass’s Holy maud and that of Prano Bailey-Bond Censor to an ScreenDaily Talk organized in partnership with the Dinard Festival Of British Film on September 30.
Watch the session above.
The panel noted that it is no accident that these films share a common narrative theme, in that they all explore social issues through horror. Faith explained that she wrote The Power – about a young nurse facing supernatural threats while working night shifts in the mid-1970s in Britain – in response to the Jimmy Saville scandal, which erupted in time of writing. She described the film as “my own real-world horror of the nature of these stories, the idea of the massive power imbalance and all of these people that have been completely ignored.” It was as if it had a parallel with a story of ghosts, those invisible people.
BFI Film Fund has embarked on the development of The power at an early stage and Francke, who said she was drawn to her exploration of the abuse of power, made it clear why such stories are landing now. “These are filmmakers with a spider’s sense [about the zeitgeist], picking up the fears of the ether and shaping them. There are some things that would be emotionally unbearable if dealt with in a purely dramatic form. In the shell of the genre, the audience can navigate these terrible situations in life. ”
“There is a real market and public appetite for these stories,” Green said. “From a buyer’s perspective, there’s a real potential for crossover when you have a genre film that tackles something problematic. You work in a more commercial space, but when you do so through a character-driven story, you can explore more personal issues.
Panelists agreed that the emergence of authentic voices was also essential; that female directors telling female stories were appealing to buyers and audiences, especially in a genre traditionally dominated by the male gaze. This is also the case in France, where filmmakers like Julia Ducournau (bodily horrors Raw and the Cannes Palme d’Or Titanium) and Lucile Hadzihalilovic (surrealist drama Ear piercing) push traditional cinematic boundaries to tell their own stories in their own way.
“We live in an age where author stories are becoming more and more important,” Green said. “There are a lot of questions now about who is in the best position to tell stories.”
The rise of social media is also playing its part, with horror fans being able to more effectively provide a wave of support that can help a film find a larger audience. Faith spoke about her experiences connecting with The poweraudiences after the film debuted on Shudder (who owns the US, UK and Australian rights; the film also sold in other silent territories), who saw her having conversations with viewers in locations like India; far from its typical British setting.
“There’s something in the form of the genre and the intensity of the themes,” she said of horror’s ability to hit a universal nerve. “You often touch on the human experience at the most extreme level and which can transcend cultural boundaries. “
Green and Francke, however, were careful to distinguish between the great commercial horrors backed by studios like Universal’s. Candy and Blumhouse’s production of the UK plus arthouse titles under discussion.
“Horror has two audiences,” said Francke, pointing to die-hard fans who will seek out genre experiences, and the general public who will see films like Candy because of things like strong marketing, the event element, or the strength of the cast or director. “We have those moments when these two audiences merge.”
And Green had some advice for genre filmmakers who hoped to reach the widest possible audience. “It’s a very crowded market,” she said. “Think about your point of difference. Horror fans have expectations, but it’s about how you can both meet them and subvert the expectations to achieve them more broadly.
Faith, who is about to start working on another genre script supported by BFI Film Fund, agrees. “It’s about trying to appropriate these tropes, while respecting them. Ultimately, it’s about maintaining your own sense of what matters in the story.