CARE International and Helen Pankhurst celebrated the launch of Suffragette last night, with an exclusive preview of the film – and WeAreTheCity were cordially invited.
The event took place at London’s prestigious May Fair hotel and alongside a preview of the film, there was also a question and answer panel, featuring the director, Sarah Gavron, Faye Ward and Alison Owen, who produced the film.
Suffragette is the first feature film to tell the story women’s movement and focuses on the ordinary women involved in the movement during the late 19th and early 20th century. The film focuses on Maud (Carey Mulligan), a factory worker, and the struggle she faces upon joining the cause – not just politically, but also personally through her home and work life.
The cast boast some high-profile names alongside Mulligan, including Helena Bonham Carter as Edith New, Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst and Natalie Press as Emily Wilding Davidson. The film is the work of Gavron and screenwriter, Abi Morgan, who have both worked together previously on Brick Lane. Gavron has previously directed films such as Village at the End of the World and This Little Life. Morgan is also known for her work on The Iron Lady and The Hour.
Introducing the film, Laurie Lee, the CEO of CARE International spoke of the importance that the film had, not only in a historical context, but also of a contemporary one. It was a reoccurring theme of the night – to acknowledge how far the cause for women’s equality has come, but also how much more there is left to achieve.
In recent months, there has been much media attention on the issue of gender equality and the film’s own star, Meryl Streep has been prevalent in spotlighting the issue of women in the entertainment and film industry.
Suffragette, however, is unusual in that it has women in leading roles, a high majority of female extras and a female director, screenwriter and producers. Alison Owen spoke of the discrepancies within the film industry: “In a film directed by Abi and Sarah, and produced by Faye and myself, but was reviewed by almost 100 percent, if not a 100 percent, of male critics….we didn’t quite get it and that does make you feel voiceless.”
Gavron, continued the point, saying, “between one to 10 percent of films are directed by women, but it is more like one percent, and we need to shift that. We need to shift the gender balance and we need to have diversity behind the camera. 51 percent of the population is women and we by more cinema tickets and we need those stories out there.”
But Gavron continued to say that she was, “encouraged by the fact that feminism, for the first time in my career isn’t a dirty word.”
Among the audience were Sadiq Khan, the Former Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and singer-songwriter, Annie Lennox. All spoke of the importance of the film and raising awareness of the gender equality cause.
Lennox said, “This film showed the truth. We need now to globally galvanise a voice for women that is shared and we all need to act.”
Speaking of the event Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline, said, “This premiere is to raise support of CARE International’s Walk in Her Shoes campaign, solidarity with women around the world.”
‘Walk in Her Shoes’ aims to raise support for females across the globe and an important part of the campaign is the Women’s Day Walk where people unite to promote equality for women and girls.
CARE International has worked for over 70 years as a leading humanitarian and development organisation. They campaign for increased rights and raise awareness of global poverty. Their work ranges across a broad spectrum including water and sanitation, education, economic development and climate change. They ‘places special focus on empowering women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to lift whole families and communities out of poverty’.
Watch the trailer for the film below: