REEL WOMEN: January 2021 UK Releases and Recommendations

Welcome back to Reel Women, the monthly column that highlights new releases that are written and/or directed by women. So cinemas weren’t open for long were they! While it may be a new year, there’s still a pandemic and film releases (along with everything else) are still be affected.

With Reel Women we will continue to highlight new films made by women that are being released online on the various streaming and VOD platforms and we will also continue to share some of the team’s favourite films made by women that are available to watch in the comfort of your own home.

7 January

Pieces of a Woman – available on Netflix

Full Review from TIFF

Directed by: Kornél Mundruczó

Written by: Kata Wéber

When a young mother’s home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.

Kata Wéber is an actress and writer. Pieces of a Woman is her third produced screenplay.

15 January

One Night in Miami – available on Amazon Prime

Full Review from TIFF

Directed by: Regina King

Written by: Kemp Powers

A fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) gathered discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.

Regina King is an actress, producer and director. She’s won multiple awards including Primetime Emmys and she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk.

Double Dad – Available on Netflix

Directed by: Cris D’Amato

Written by: Renato Fagundes and Thalita Rebouças

While her mother is away, teenager Vicenza (Maisa Silva) sneaks out of the hippie commune where she lives in order to discover who her father is.

Thalita Rebouças is an author, actress and screenwriter. Double Dad is her third feature-length screenplay.

Also set to be released in the UK on 15 January but in cinemas were MLK/FBI (directed by Sam Pollard and written by Benjamin Hedin and Laura Tomaselli) and Blithe Spirit (directed by Edward Hall and written by Piers Ashworth, Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft). As every single country in the UK has now entered strict lockdowns and people shouldn’t leave their homes unless it’s essential, who knows when and how these films will be released.

22 January

So My Grandma’s a Lesbian! – available on Netflix

Written and directed by: Ángeles Reiné

A promising young lawyer sees her plans to wed into an important and ultraconservative family in danger when her grandma decides to marry her girlfriend.

Ángeles Reiné is a director, writer and producer. So My Grandma’s a Lesbian! is her first feature film.

Team JumpCut Recommendations

Fernando Torres: The Last Symbol – available on Amazon Prime

Directed by: José F. Ortuño and Laura Alvea

Naturally this documentary is more well-suited towards people who are fans of Fernando Torres as it spans his life and career, though focusing a lot more on the career. There’s a melancholy tinge to this film as it follows Torres during the last few days before he officially retires from football, but what really shines through is his love of Atlético Madrid and how much the fans loved him too, no matter what team he went on to play for.

  • Recommended by Elena

Saint Frances – available on Netflix

Directed by: Alex Thompson

Written by: Kelly O’Sullivan

Every so often, a film comes out of nowhere and steals my entire heart. In the past it’s been films like the delightful The Edge of Seventeen and The Florida Project. In 2020, that film was Saint Frances, the first film I saw when cinemas reopened all the way back in July, and no doubt a film I never would’ve even seen were it not for the state of cinema’s recent history. I couldn’t believe how blown away I was by Saint Frances.

In her debut screenplay, writer-star Kelly O’Sullivan taps into modern life with a deliciously sharp script, casting observations on abortion, motherhood, relationships, and unlikely friendships in a brilliantly realistic and witty manner. Her performance as Bridget feels as authentic as any performance I saw in 2020, and little Frances, played by Ramona Edith Williams, is endlessly charming throughout.

Saint Frances is one of the year’s hidden gems, and since its Netflix arrival on New Year’s Eve, the stream of wonderful reactions to the film online has filled me with immense joy that the film I’ve spent months badgering on about has finally reached the mass audience it so richly deserves.

  • Recommended by Rhys

Babyteeth – available on Netflix

Directed by: Shannon Murphy

Written by: Rita Kalnejais

You know those films that just stay with you, long after viewing, growing in your mind and just getting better and better the more you think about them? Well, that’s Babyteeth. Raw, unflinching, gritty and yet utterly beautiful and poetic nonetheless. A story of love, life and ultimately death, the emotional stakes could not be higher here, but the whole cast do incredible work to make this a compelling and convincing tragedy. Not least Eliza Scanlen, who absolutely shines with a performance beyond her years. This may be her first lead role, but it certainly won’t be her last. Director Shannon Murphy, with a background in short films and tv episodes previously, has pulled an immense feature debut out of the bag here and orchestrates such a delicate and nuanced journey with mesmeric poise. Get ready to be hurt by this one. It’s a heart-breaking film, but it’s most definitely worth all the pain.

  • Recommended by Jakob

Proxima – available on Netflix 

Directed by: Alice Winocour

Written by: Alice Winocour and Jean-Stephane Bron

Proxima is Alice Winocour’s third feature film, after Augustine (2012) and Disorder (2015) – both of which are also highly recommended. She also co-wrote the wonderful Mustang (2015) with Deniz Gamze Erguven.

Proxima stars Eva Green as an astronaut who must juggle training and motherhood. Matt Dillon co-stars as an astronaut in the same small crew as Green, Lars Eidinger plays her estranged partner and Sandra Huller has a small supporting role (something to be welcomed in any film).

After giving one of the best performances of the decade in TV show Penny Dreadful, Green has not had the kind of parts that are worthy of her. It is gratifying then, to see her finally getting a central role that gives her plenty to do. This is a film that focuses on the hard work, sacrifice and dedication involved in getting to the space station, rather than big-budget space-set scenes or sci-fi. It’s very much a human and emotional story and a rare realistic portrayal of a working mother. Definitely worth watching.

  • Recommended by: Fiona

Summerland – available on VOD

Interview with Jessica Swale

Written and directed by: Jessica Swale

A beautiful and lovely period film about a grumpy writer and researcher (Gemma Arterton) who is forced to take in Frank (Lucas Bond) an evacuee, but slowly opens her home and heart to him even though she was adamant she wanted to get rid of him to begin with. Summerland is a story of lost love, forgiveness and second chances and it’s the perfect amount of quaint.

  • Recommended by Elena

As always, we’d love to hear what films you’ve watched recently that are made by women.