Mark Cousins' epic 14-hour documentary Women Make Film sets digital and Blu-ray date

The BFI announces that Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema written and directed by Mark Cousins (The Story of Film: An Odyssey) will now be released on BFI Player and other digital platforms on May 18. A 4-disc Blu-ray box set will be released by the BFI on the same day.

After a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and screenings at the Dublin Film Festival and Glasgow Film Festival in February/March this year, the film was scheduled to have a theatrical release on 8 May alongside a BFI Southbank season highlighting the work of some of the women featured in it. The season and a screening of the film will now take place at BFI Southbank later in the year. In support of the film’s May release, Mark will curate a collection of a dozen films on BFI Player all made by women with a note on each one to say what makes it an essential watch.

The documentary follows in the footsteps of Mark Cousins’ earlier opus,The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011). An epic 14-hour long documentary, five years in the making, it is a guided tour of the art and craft of filmmaking covered in 40 themed chapters, illustrated with almost 1,000 film extracts from 183 women filmmakers from around the world. Some are well-established but others little-known, under-appreciated or even forgotten.

The narrators, who are also seen on screen, are Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Sharmila Tagore, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton and Debra Winger.

Using clips that cover thirteen decades (the earliest is from Alice Guy-Blaché’s Course A La Saucisse from 1907) and five continents, Cousins explores how films are made, shot and edited; how stories are shaped and how movies depict life, love, politics, humour and death, through the compelling lens of some of the world’s greatest directors – all of them women.

BFI Player’s Subscription service will release the film in 5 chronological episodes, beginning on 18 May and ending on 15 June. Other platforms including Curzon Home Cinema, iTunes and Amazon Prime will release it on 18 May for download-to-own and TVOD (rental). The 4-disc BFI Blu-ray box set will contain special features including The Making of Women Make Film (2020), a new video essay by Mark Cousins in which he discusses his influences, motivations and methodology, and a Q&A with documentary maker Barbara Kopple that took place at TIFF in September 2019.

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