Guest Blog - Reclaim the Frame: Why Every Feminist Should Support It

As you may know, one of the things the Showroom Cinema prides itself in is its special screening events: one-off opportunities to add a little extra something to our regular programme of films. Some events are hosted by the cinema team, others are picked and presented by partner organisations.

Earlier this year, the Showroom started a new partnership with Reclaim the Frame, offering regular screenings with discussions, but there is so much more to them than that…

Reclaim the Frame is hosted by Birds’ Eye View (BEV), an agency that campaigns for gender equality in film. Now in its 15th year, BEV spotlights and celebrates films created by women, and supports women working in film through training and events. Reclaim the Frame events take place regularly at a number of independent cinemas up and down the country.

The idea is to screen and discuss films created by women, whether they're directors, writers or otherwise. The point is to spotlight the female gaze, supporting women (and non-binary people) in key positions and to ultimately bring more equality to the film industry.

My first experience of Reclaim the Frame was Styx (warning: spoilers ahead), a drama set at sea, co-written by Ika Künzel and seen through the eyes of female lead, Rike, played by Susanne Wolff. The film starts out in Austria, from Rike’s white, western and privileged perspective. However, class, race and culture collide, when on a lone sailing trip to Ascension Island, she encounters a sinking trawler full of African refugees.

The emotions this film stirred up in me were as choppy as the sea. I empathised with Rike’s difficult decision, I felt the frustration of the boy she’d scooped out of the sea after he’d jumped from the trawler, I understood his desperation to go back and save his family and finally, I was left feeling angry that the only thing the authorities cared about, as they lifted bodies out of the half-sunken boat, was that they had to bother with an investigation – imagine the paperwork!

But this was the point – as Mia Bays (BEV’s director) explained after the film – to get privileged western audiences to confront and discuss humanitarian issues. Mia provided more context for the film, before introducing Tchiyiwe T Chihana from the DEWA Project (Development and Empowerment for Women’s Advancement). As someone who has worked with female refugees, Tchiyiwe had a unique and interesting perspective on the film’s themes, and a lively discussion soon got underway in the cinema.

After the Q&A, there was an opportunity to stick around for a workshop on how we can discover our inner humanitarians, working out the actual steps we can take in our everyday lives to help in situations that seem out of our control. This was also a good chance for those eager to unpack the points that had come up in the discussion do to so in a safe space.

Based on this experience, I’d definitely go to another Reclaim the Frame, and I have since signed up to be an influencer. Influencers bring paying guests to screenings and as a reward, get a free ticket. There are also loads of other perks including having access to a network of female-led film supporters, a MUBI film subscription and film goodies. So whether you are a woman wanting to crack the film industry or a feminist who wants to support equality in the arts, you can find out more and sign up here.

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