The future is female: eight films at EIFF directed by women

The future is female: eight films at EIFF directed by women

Female-led films to catch at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival

At this year's Cannes Film Festival, questions relating to the representation of women in film seemed to dominate many discussions. This was largely thanks to both Sofia Coppola, who picked up a Best Director win for The Beguiled, and the comments made by jury member Jessica Chastain at the final press conference. As she told reporters, 'What I really took away from this experience is how the world views women. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest. There were quite some exceptions. I was surprised by the representation of female characters on film.' Chastain's argument is simple; if there are more female directors and storytellers, films will feature a more authentic portrayal of the female experience.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is known for continually showcasing a wide range of voices and stories from different countries and varying facets of life. This year's programme is packed with screenings of films which highlight the talents of female filmmakers from around the world, while also celebrating the female perspective through strong lead characters. Inspired by Jessica Chastain's comments, we've rounded up some of our top picks of female-led films at this year's EIFF.

Julius Caesar (dir. Phyllida Lloyd)

The three Donmar Warehouse productions of Phyllida Lloyd's Shakespeare Trilogy have always been seen as a triumph in British theatre for their innovative use of all-female casts. Set in a prison, Lloyd's Julius Caesar is a twist on the classic political thriller with Harriet Walter giving a solid performance as Brutus. The production is set to appear in cinemas across the UK from 12 Jul.
Cineworld, Sun 25 Jun, 3.15pm & Odeon, Mon 26 Jun, 6pm

The Receptionist (dir. Jenny Lu)

As the debut feature of London-based Taiwanese director Jenny Lu, The Receptionist details the lives of Taiwanese women who work in an illegal massage parlour, with the story being told through the eyes of recent graduate Tina who takes a job as a receptionist. Inspired by Lu's own challenges as a graduate in London, the film offers an insight into the parlour workers' lives as they struggle and dream of something better.
Cineworld, Mon 26 Jun, 8.40pm & Vue Omni, Tue 27 Jun, 8.30pm

Story of a Girl (dir. Kyra Sedgwick)

Kyra Sedgewick's impressive directorial debut follows 16-year-old Deanna Lambert, whose teenage life is changed drastically when a video of her having sex as a 13-year-old hits social media. Three years later, she continues to be haunted at high school, at home and at the local restaurant where she finds summer work both by the viral video and by a past that she can't escape.
Dominion, Thu 22 Jun, 8.30pm & Cineworld, Sat 24 Jun, 1.15pm

Strange Weather (dir. Katherine Dieckmann)

Holly Hunter gives a commanding performance as a grieving mother searching for truth in Katherine Diekmann's melodrama Strange Weather. Darcy Baylor's son committed suicide seven years ago but when she discovers that his old school friend has become rich and successful from an idea that belonged to her son, she sets off on a journey to confront him and settle a score.
Odeon, Fri 30 Jun, 8.50pm & Cineworld, Sat 1 Jul, 8.55pm

Dalida (dir. Lisa Azuelos)

Based on the true story of one of France's best known singers, Dalida is a tragic tale of a pop sensation who sold more than 170 million records worldwide but whose life was marred with death and suicide. Lisa Azuelos' biopic provides a devastating take on the Egypt born singer's life and career, which is bolstered by the terrific performance of Italian model-turned-actress Sveva Alviti.
Odeon, Fri 23 Jun, 8.35pm & Vue Omni, Sun 25 Jun, 8.30pm.

Sami Blood (dir. Amanda Kernell)

Amanda Kernell's coming-of-age debut takes a look at the oppression of the indigenous Sami people of Scandinavia. Elle Marja is sent to a boarding school for Sami children where she is treated horrifically and made to feel like a lesser being. Strong-willed and determined to overcome the prejudices she faces, hope soon arrives unexpectedly in the form of a chance to escape to start the new life she dreams of.
Cineworld, Thu 22 Jun, 6pm & Sat 24 Jun, 3.20pm

Maudie (dir. Aisling Walsh)

A real-life story starring the wonderful Sally Hawkins, Maudie is the moving tale of painter Maud Lewis, one of Canada's best known folk artists, whose rheumatoid arthritis limited her movements but not her spirit and desire to paint. Aisling Walsh depicts the artist's life and romance with husband Everett (Ethan Hawke) with great skill and emotion, ensuring that Maud's story is told with real care.
Cineworld, Fri 23 Jun, 6.05pm & Odeon, Sun 25 Jun, 3.15pm

Snow Woman (dir. Kiki Sugino)

Kiki Sugino directs and stars in this fresh take on a famous Japanese ghost story in which a hunter, Minokichi, and his aging mentor encounter a ghostly snow woman during a snowstorm. She kills the mentor with her freezing breath but spares the hunter, on the condition that he keeps what he has seen to himself. But after Minokichi meets and marries a woman who strangely resembles the snow woman, the supernatural becomes inescapable, haunting their life with surreal happenings.
Cineworld, Thu 29 Jun, 6pm & Odeon, Sat 1 Jul, 6pm

Edinburgh International Film Festival, Various venues, Edinburgh, Wed 21 Jun–Sun 2 Jul.