Reel Women: September UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome to September’s edition of Reel Women, the feature that highlights the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. This month there’s a whole host of different films made by women to choose from, both at the cinema and new Netflix original movies. There are documentaries, dramas, thrillers and thanks to its success across the pond, Crazy Rich Asians is now being released in the UK almost a month earlier than expected!

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7 September

Directed by Marc Turtletaub
Written by Polly Mann and Oren Moverman

Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) is a taken for granted suburban mother and wife, but when she meets Robert (Irrfan KKhan) and discovers a passion for puzzles, she finally does something for herself.

This is Polly Mann’s first produced screenplay.


The Hows of Us
Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina
Written by Carmi Raymundo, Gilliann Ebreo and Cathy Garcia-Molina

A young couple who dream of growing old together struggle with the realities of being in a long-term relationship.

Cathy Garcia-Molina is a director, writer and actress with over thirty directing credits to her name. The Hows of Us is Gilliann Ebreo’s fifth writing credit and Carmi Raymundo is a writer and producer who also produced The Hows of Us.


The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Written by Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele

When Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is discovered making out with a female classmate, she’s sent to a gay conversion therapy center called God’s Promise by her conservative aunt.

This is Akhavan’s second feature film and The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Film at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Frugiule is a writer and producer and she and Akhavan have worked together before on Akhavan’s directorial feature debut Appropriate Behaviour.

You can read our review right here


Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
Directed by Ian Samuels
Written by Lindsey Beer

A text sent to the wrong number sparks a virtual romance between Sierra (Shannon Purser), who’s smart but unpopular, and jock Jamey (Noah Centineo) who thinks he’s talking to cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth).

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser is Lindsey Beer’s first produced screenplay. Her other writing credits include upcoming films Chaos Walking and Masters of the Universe.


City of Joy
Directed by Madeleine Gavin
Written by Madeleine Gavin

A Netflix documentary about the unlikely friendship that develops between Congolese doctor Dr. Denis Mukwege, Eve Ensler, and human rights activist Christine Schuler-Deschryver who join forces to create a safe haven for women survivors in the middle of violence-torn Eastern Congo.

Madeleine Gavin is a writer, director and editor. She’s edited over 30 films included Nerve and What Maisie Knew.


12 September

On My Skin
Directed by Alessio Cremonini
Written by Alessio Cremonini and Lisa Nur Sultan

This Netflix film is about the true story of Stefano Cucchi (Alessandro Borghi) who was arrested for a minor crime and was then mysteriously found dead during his detention.

On My Skin is Lisa Nur Sultan’s first produced screenplay.


14 September

Crazy Rich Asians
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim

Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding) have been dating for over a year, and when it’s Nick’s best friend’s wedding in Singapore, it’s the perfect chance for Rachel to meet Nick’s family and friends – what she doesn’t expect is for them all to be super rich and famous!

Adele Lim is a producer and writer whose previous work has been in TV including One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected and Lethal Weapon. Crazy Rich Asians is her first film writing credit.

You can read our review right here!


Down to Earth
Directed by Renata Heinen and Rolf Winters
Written by Rolf Winters

Documentary about husband and wife, Rolf Winters and Renata Heinen, who take their family on a five-year journey across the world to find a new perspective on life.

Down to Earth is Renata Heinen’s directorial debut.


Husband Material
Directed by Anurag Kashyap
Written by Kanika Dhillon

When Rumi (Tapsee Pannu) gets tired of waiting for Vicky (Vicky Kaushal) to grow up and ask her to marry him, she asks her parents to find her a husband.

Kanika Dhillon is an actress, screenwriter and author. She has released three books and Husband Material is her sixth screenplay.


Reinventing Marvin
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Written by Pierre Trividic and Anne Fontaine

A young man runs away from home to become an actor.

Anne Fontaine is an actress, writer and director who was nominated for a BAFTA in Best Film Not in the English Language for Coco Before Chanel.


The Rider
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Written by Chloé Zhao

After suffering from a near fatal head injury from the rodeo, young cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau) tries to find a new identity for himself when he is not able to do what he’s always known and loved.

The Rider is Chloé Zhao’s second feature film. As well as writing and directing it she also produced it. For The Rider, Zhao was nominated for Best Director at last year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards and she won the C.I.C.A.E Award at Cannes last year too.


The Land of Steady Habits
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
Written by Nicole Holofcener

After leaving his wife and career to “find happiness” Anders (Ben Mendelsohn) clumsily tries to put back together his fractured life.

The Land of Steady Habits is Nicole Holofcener’s seventh feature film – her film Friends with Money is currently on Netflix – and she’s also directed episodes of TV shows including Parks and Recreation and Orange is the New Black.


Directed by Annemarie Jacir
Written by Annemarie Jacir

A father and his estranged son must hand delivery the invitations to his daughter’s wedding as per local Palestinian custom.

Annemarie Jacir is a writer, director, producer and editor. Wajib is her third feature film.


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19 September

Mile 22
Directed by Peter Berg
Written by Lea Carpenter

Elite American intelligence officer James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is tasked with smuggling a mysterious police officer out of the country.

Mile 22 is Lea Carpenter’s first produced screenplay. She is also an author whose developing her debut novel Eleven Days for television.


21 September

A Simple Favour
Directed by Paul Feig
Written by Jessica Sharzer

When beautiful yet mysterious Emily (Blake Lively) disappears, her friend Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) sets out to uncover the truth of what happened.

Jessica Sharzer is a director, writer, editor and producer who has been nominated three times for a Primetime Emmy for American Horror Story. Her last feature film, which she wrote and directed, was Speak (2004) starring Kristen Stewart.


Faces Places
Directed by JR and Agnès Varda
Written by JR and Agnès Varda

Documentary about director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. who journey through rural France together and form an unlikely friendship.

Agnès Varda is a legendary director who has the title of “grandmother of the French New Wave”. She has over 50 directing credits to her name and has won dozens of awards. Faces Places was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this years Oscars.


Never Here
Directed by Camille Thoman
Written by Camille Thoman

Disturbing events lean to an artist who photographs and interviews strangers to suspect that someone is watching her.

Camille Thoman is a writer, director, producer, editor and actress. Never Here is her first feature film.


The Little Stranger
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Lucinda Coxon

After a doctor is called to an old mansion, strange things begin to occur.

The Little Stranger is Lucinda Coxon’s fifth feature screenplay. She has previously written Wild Target and BAFTA nominated The Danish Girl.


Nappily Ever After
Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour
Written by Adam Brooks and Cee Marcellus

Tired of having to be perfect for everyone including herself, Violet (Sanaa Lathan) takes dramatic action and shaves off her hair. This kickstarts a whole new chapter in her life.

Nappily Ever After is Haifaa Al-Mansour’s third feature film, her feature film debut Wadjda was nominated for a BAFTA. Nappily Ever After is Cee Marcellus’s first produced screenplay.


Directed by Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones
Written by Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones

A Netflix documentary taking an intimate look into the life of icon Quincy Jones.

Rashida Jones is an actress best known for playing Ann Perkins in comedy series Parks and Recreation. Quincy is her feature-length writing and directing debut.


28 September

Anchor and Hope
Directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet
Written by Carlos Marques-Marcet and Jules Nurrish

A lesbian couple’s plan to ask a friend to be a sperm donor brings surprising changes for all three of them.

Anchor and Hope is Jules Nurrish’s first feature film.


Skate Kitchen
Directed by Crystal Moselle
Written by Crystal Moselle, Jen Silverman, and Aslihan Unaldi

Teenager Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) befriends a bunch of older skateboarding girls in New York City.

As well as directing and co-writing Skate Kitchen, Crystal Moselle also produced the film. Aslihan Unaldi is a director, writer, editor and producer. This is Jen Silverman’s first feature film.


The Gospel According to André
Directed by Kate Novack

Documentary on operatic fashion editor André Leon Talley’s life and career.

Kate Novack is a writer, director and producer. The Gospel According to André is her second documentary film and it was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year.


The Wife
Directed by Björn Runge
Written by Jane Anderson

Joan (Glenn Close) begins to question her life choices when she is in Stockholm with her husband who is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Jane Anderson is a writer and director; her previous film The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson is currently on Netflix.

I do believe that this month sees the most films written and/or directed by women released in the UK since Reel Women began. Twenty-four films in total are realised in the UK in September that are made by women, six of those films are going to be released onto Netflix. Do let us know what you think of any of these films if you get the chance to see them.


Mary Shelley

Year: 2017
Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Douglas Booth


I have something of a love-hate relationship with Frankenstein – having taught it to A Level English students, I got quite fed up of the character of Frankenstein’s overblown, melodramatic moaning, but of course, I loved the character of the creature and had huge sympathy for him. The achievement of its author, Mary Shelley cannot be overstated, however. For an eighteen-year-old girl to have revolutionised literature, invented at least one new genre and to have created characters that still endure to this day is an unbelievable feat for 1818. This film examines the fascinating story behind the author, her family background and her relationship with her husband, Percy Shelley.

I have been a fan of Elle Fanning for some time now and she was in two of my favourite films of 2016;  ‘Neon Demon’ and ‘20th Century Women’. Douglas Booth has certainly carved a niche for himself playing mainly period characters, with variable results. For me, he’s never been as good as he was in Lone Scherfig’s ‘Riot Club’, which got career-best performances out of many of its young cast. Tom Sturridge has also played several mustachioed weasley types in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Journey’s End’. Bel Powley greatly impressed me in both ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ and ‘Carrie Pilby’. Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour has followed up the ground-breaking ‘Wadjda’ by assembling this group of young actors and casting them well – no mean feat when the icons that are Byron and Shelley are involved.

Mary (Fanning) lives with her father – publisher and book-seller William Godwin (Stephen Dillane), her loathed step-mother Mary Jane Clairmont (Joanne Froggatt) and beloved step-sister Claire (Powley). Mary’s real mother had been Mary Wollstonecraft – a radical feminist writer, who died shortly after giving birth but continues to have a huge influence on her life. After things become fraught in the family home, Mary is sent to Scotland to stay with the Baxter family, including Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams). It is here that she first meets Shelley (Booth) and the two fall in love. Back in London, it is revealed that Shelley already has a wife and child. Mary, trying to live up to her mother’s ‘free love’ ideals, doesn’t have a problem with this (at least, at first) and runs away with Claire to join Shelley in ‘modest’ lodgings. After tragedy strikes, the three travel to Geneva to stay with Lord Byron (Sturridge) and his doctor John Polidori (Ben Hardy). Trapped indoors by days of relentless rain, they challenge each other to write ghost stories and the rest, as they say, is history…

Fanning does well with the challenges of the accent and her and Booth have good chemistry together. Powley is a delight, as usual, and Sturridge makes a convincing Byron. Al-Mansour’s direction is impressive – there are lots of visual details that stand out – shots of the sky in particular. Mary’s dreams are fully realised and their influence on Frankenstein is clear. The tragedy in Mary’s life clearly informed her writing, as did her wish to honour her mother’s work and lifestyle choices. The three main characters go through several ups and downs in terms of their fortunes – from a virtual hovel, to a plush house in Bloomsbury and back again. Despite Mary being well ahead of her time in terms of feminism, it is clear that she is still beholden to the men in her life (her father, then her husband) for her circumstances and living conditions. When Mary does come to publish Frankenstein, it is assumed that her husband is the author. So, this film is telling the important behind-the-scenes story behind such a seminal landmark in literature.

‘Mary Shelley’ is an effective period drama, with a very good central performance from Fanning, backed up by a well-cast support. It tells a story that we all should know about with an interesting visual style. It is definitely worth a watch on VOD.




Reel Women: July UK Releases



Welcome back to Reel Women, a monthly feature where we highlight the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. We are now official in the second half of the year (what?! how?!) and there’s still a lot of films made by women to see over the next six months. In July there’s dramas, comedies and more documentaries than you can shake a stick at in the latter half of the month!

6th July

Mary Shelley
Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour
Written by Emma Jensen and Haifaa Al-Mansour

The story of the love affair between Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) and how Mary came to write Frankenstein.

With Wadjda, Haifaa Al-Mansour was the first woman from Saudi Arabia to direct a feature film in Saudi Arabia. Wadjda was nominated for a BAFTA and was widely praised. This is Emma Jensen’s first produced feature screenplay.

The More You Ignore Me
Directed by Keith English
Written by Jo Brand

Teenage Alice (Ella Hunt) lives with her hippy-like dad (Mark Addy) and her mum (Sheridan Smith) who suffers from mental health issues. When her mum is admitted to a local psychiatric hospital, Alice is left with her love f The Smiths as she tries to navigate teenage life without her mum.

Jo Brand is a British comedian, writer and actress. She’s previously written episodes of the TV shows ‘Damned’ and ‘Getting On’ amongst others. This is Brand’s first feature film screenplay, and she adapted it from her own novel of the same name.

In Darkness
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Anthony Byrne and Natalie Dormer

When a bind musician (Natalie Dormer) hears a murder committed in the apartment above her own, she takes a dark path into London’s criminal underworld to find out the truth.

Natalie Dormer is an actress best known for her roles in ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ films. ‘In Darkness’ is her first screenplay and the first film she’s produced.


13th July

Pin Cushion
Directed by Deborah Haywood
Written by Deborah Haywood

Super close mother and daughter, Lyn (Joanna Scanlan) and Iona (Lily Newmark) are looking forward to a life in a new town but things aren’t as easy as they thought and they both retreat into fantasies of their own making.

Deborah Haywood has previously written and directed five short films. Pin Cushion is a feature film debut and it was nominated for the Douglas Hickox Award at the British Independent Film Awards last year.

Summer 1993
Directed by Carla Simón
Written by Carla Simón

After her mother dies, six-year-old Frida (Laia Artigas) is sent to the countryside to live with her uncle’s family but she finds it difficult to settle into her new life.

Carla Simón has previously written and directed a couple of short films. Summer 1993 is her first feature film.

The Butterfly Tree
Directed by Priscilla Cameron
Written by Priscilla Cameron

Ex-burlesque queen Evelyn (Melissa George) enchants both single dad Al and his teenage son Fin (Ed Oxenbould) with her thirst for life. But tensions rise between the father and son when they realise they are both competing for the affections of the same woman.

Priscilla Cameron has written and directed three short films and The Butterfly Tree was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in at the 2017 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.


20th July

Generation Wealth
Directed by Lauren Greenfield
Written by Lauren Greenfield

A documentary investigating the pathologies that has created the riches society the world has ever seen.

Lauren Greenfield is a director, writer and producer who was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her documentary Thin.

Directed by Amanda Sthers
Written by Amanda Sthers

When she realises their dinner party is for thirteen guests, Anne (Toni Collette) panics because it’s bad luck and enlists her maid Maria (Rossy de Palma) to pretend to be one of her rich guests. But sparks fly between Maria and art broker David (Michael Smiley) and this unexpected romance leads to Anne chasing the pair around Paris as she plots to ruin their happiness.

Madame is the second film Amanda Sthers has directed after previously writing films for TV.

One or Two Questions
Directed by Kristina Konrad
Written by Kristina Konrad

A documentary about Uruguay’s 1989 amnesty referendum, a vote to determine whether members of the police and military accused of crimes during the country’s 12 years of junta rule could be prosecuted after they were granted impunity three years before.

Kristina Konrad is a documentary filmmaker who has directed four feature-length documentaries and produced over a dozen films.

Directed by Salomé Lamas
Written by Salomé Lamas

An essay film on the fluidity of national identity in times of conflict.

Salomé Lamas is a Portuguese writer and director of short films and feature-length documentaries.

The Receptionist
Directed by Jenny Lu
Written by Jenny Lu and Yi-Wen Yeh

Based on a real illegal massage parlour in London, The Receptionist follows the lives of the employees and clients as seen through the graduate who’s employed as the receptionist.

This is Jenny Lu’s first feature film and is Yi-Wen Yeh’s first screenplay. Lu and Yeh have previously worked together on the short film The Man Who Walked on the Moon.

27th July

The Bleeding Edge
Directed by Kirby Dick
Written by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

A Netflix documentary on the unforeseen consequences of rushing through advanced technological devices to be used in the medical field.

Amy Ziering has worked with Kirby Dick on four documentary films, and their film The Invisible War as nominated for an Oscar in 2013.

That’s twelve films made by women being released in the UK in July including one on Netflix. We would love to hear your thoughts on any of these films if you get the chance to see them, though you’ll have to be quick as a lot of these films have a very limited release.