Since 2011, luxury fashion house Miu Miu have been spearheading some of the most engaging, insightful and necessary short films on the industry circuit right now. Though they describe each short in their Women’s Tales series as ‘cinematic universes’ with a slight wink, the oeuvre of films they’ve amassed under the banner are both impressively broad in perspective and feel intrinsically connected; a rich, intellectually charged slate of movies about womanhood and femininity that poses a question to its glorious all-female lineup of commissioned filmmakers: How do you define womanhood in the 21st century?
It’s a prompt that can be answered thousands of times in thousands of different ways — Miu Miu haven’t reached a thousand just yet (give them time) but the twenty-five films they have released over the past several years encompasses the enormous spectrum of the feminine experience through some of the most exciting filmmakers to hold a camera in recent years — Ava DuVernay (Film No.5), Miranda July (No. 8), Agnés Varda (No. 10), Naomi Kawase (No. 11), Lynne Ramsay (No. 18), Mati Diop (No. 21) and Isabel Sandoval (No. 21) are just a few of the filmmakers who have allowed audiences a peek into their, sometimes abstract, always imaginative, cinematic worlds.
Last Wednesday, Miu Miu celebrated the twenty-five film milestone with a day of screenings in London, Mayfair, offering guests a chance to revisit select films from the series while continuing to explore womanhood in front of and behind the camera with a series of insightful conversations between leading women in the industry. A RABBIT’S FOOT had the pleasure of sitting in at prestigious Mayfair members club 5 Hertford Street to watch some of our favourite directors and actors discuss women on film.
Film critic Simran Hans kicked off proceedings alongside Women’s Tale alumni Isabel Sandoval, and actors Samantha Morton and Dolly De Leon (BAFTA and Oscar nominated for her standout performance in last year’s Triangle of Sadness) with a conversation on Protagonists: Off-Screen, On Screen and Behind the Scenes. The exchange of ideas was the perfect way to set the tone for the day ahead, each filmmaker offering refreshing perspectives that spoke to their individual learned experiences — among a varied conversation, Sandoval spoke on her experience as a trans filmmaker and her love affair with sensuality on film (her essay on the same topic is a must-read, and her own Miu Miu short Shangri-La is the perfect accompaniment), while De Leon touched on being an older actor tackling sexuality and femininity on screen. Morton spoke with a disarming frankness of the challenges facing women in the British film industry today, detailing her struggle to find financing for her second feature. She expressed her desire for studios in the UK to take risks on filmmakers with urgent perspectives. “I want to make films for young women, and for young men to see what it’s like to be a woman. For people who are not normally celebrated, who are hated, who are judged.”
Their discussion lent candidness to sensitive topics, and the day went ahead with a similar intimacy and frankness in the spirit of having a worthwhile dialogue — directors Janicza Bravo and Sally El Hosaini talked Carte Blanche, Identity and the Female Gaze with journalist Susie Bubble, while Malgorzata Szumowska, Rina Yang and director of UK features at Netflix explored What It Means To Be An Artist In An Age of Content.
The day capped off with the premiere of film No. 25: Mexican Independent film director, screenwriter and producer Lily Avilés’ Eye Two Times Mouth — following an aspiring opera singer preparing for an audition for Madame Butterfly — before taking the celebration to Mount St. restaurant where the event opened up to a host of guests from the world of fashion and film. Avilés film is a lyrical piece exploring the through line between spirit, movement, music, and eventual metamorphosis. Miu Miu described the film best, encapsulating the spirit of their Women’s Tales perfectly in the process: “everything is connected: personal and mythic pasts” before quoting Avilés herself, “it’s about the journey.”