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The University of Southampton
International Summer School

Women on Screen and Off Screen: British Cinema's Missing Stories

Examining the cultural image of women in cinema and the evolving landscape of film exhibition, this course introduces you to the patchwork of British film culture.

Visit to the The Making of Harry Potter
Visit to the The Making of Harry Potter

Contemporary British cinema is exciting and wide-ranging, with an internationally recognised and acclaimed creative and commercial industry. Films range from box-office smashes including the Harry Potter and James Bond series, to smaller independent and art-house fare, including films by Shane Meadows and Ben Wheatley. However, women are consistently left out of this picture.  

This module will introduce students to a range of contemporary films made by women in Britain. The course aims to uncover some of the problems faced by women in the British film industry, and the ways in which these women attempt to overcome them. Students will engage with an excitingly diverse range of films from mainstream comedies like Bend it Like Beckham, to politically charged period dramas like Belle, and powerful social realism films like Fish Tank. This will be contextualized within the broader issues surrounding women in mainstream Hollywood cinema, including the lack of female directors, the narrow range of women’s stories being told, and the rise of feminist activism following #MeToo and Times Up.

Students will work Sarah Louise Smyth, a researcher on the project, Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary Film Culture in the UK. This world-leading and cutting-edge research project aims to research and write the history of contemporary women’s filmmaking in the UK. It has produced numerous reports that reveal the lack of women working in the British film industry from 2000-2015. Working with Sarah will give students a unique and unprecedented access to the knowledge, materials and data needed to investigate the problems at hand. Ultimately, this course promises an enriching, stimulating and important examination into a crucial and timely question: where are the women in British cinema?

The course culminates in a trip to one of Britain’s newest and most popular cultural attractions: The Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden.

The academic organising this topic is Sarah Louise Smyth, PhD candidate in Film.

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