Our film programmer Toki gives us a round up of what films to look out for at The Courtyard this June, “The Courtyard is celebrating womanhood – in its many guises – with recognition of the new F-Rating. Not so new to Bath Film Festival, director Holly Tarquini created the accrediting mark in 2014 to signify a film that either: 1. is directed by a woman, 2. is written by a woman, or, 3. features significant women on screen in their own right. Recognising that Bechdel’s test for fiction had lost some impact since its 1985 invention, the time had come for a reminder that screen depictions of women still have a long way to go before they are truly representative. f-rated.org And so, while multiplexes up and down the country screen DC’s latest action flick from 1 June, The Courtyard are bringing their own selection of real women of wonder to Hereford.”
Cueing up with The Zookeeper’s Wife (12A) (2-8 June), see Cannes’ judge Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska, in this wartime adaptation of the bestselling novel by Diane Ackerman.
Turning her zoo into a pig farm, and smuggling Jews to safety from the Warsaw ghetto, Antonina is an inspirational character and a very different kind of war hero. Chastain returns later in the month as a very different kind of woman, with an utterly converse agenda – Miss Sloane (15) (17-22 June) is a formidable lobbyist, cunning and ambitious. Driving viewers to really consider where the boundaries lie between morality and success, this is a “compulsively watchable” (The Guardian) twisting-turning study on our contemporary power structures, with a surprisingly abrasive female at the heart of it.
Sumptuous, decadent and intoxicating, and winner of 49 festival prizes (so far), The Handmaiden (18) (9 & 12 June) is a simmering new title from Park Chan-Wook (Old Boy, Lady Vengeance). Adapted from Sarah Waters’ novel, Fingersmith, this is a darkly clever, erotic psychological thriller that holds no bars. With seduction, devilish double-crossing, and some despicable characters, the central friendship-cum-love affair between Korean con-artist Sookee and Japanese heiress Lady Hideko is surprisingly sensitive, and utterly mesmerising.
A much more British tale comes from writer/director Hope Dickson Leach in The Levelling (15) (12 & 13 June), a drama about family crisis, set in the Somerset floods. Estranged daughter Clover returns to the homestead after learning her brother is dead, but on discovering the devastation left in the wake of the floods, she must have some difficult conversations with her father about the farm, in this profound and emotional story – “deceptively understated and fiercely truthful” (Mark Kermode)
Certain Women (12A) (26 & 29 June), Kelly Reichardt’s latest release, treads a different format, but with a similar tone. With pensive, longing shots on the landscape, Reichardt meditates on the quiet lives of four women: a lawyer, a wife and mother, a lonely ranch hand, and a teacher. With understated, but hugely compelling, performances from Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and Lily Gladstone, this is 107 minutes of stunning storytelling – naturalistic drama and some real female characters, from the cream of the Hollywood crop.
On the lighter side of the screen, Gemma Arterton stars as the sparky, sassy writer, fighting against wartime prejudice in Their Finest (12A) (21 June). Drawn into propaganda script-writing during the bleak of the Blitz, Catrin is witty and resilient, despite the jibes and chauvinistic environment she inhabits. With some wry humour from Bill Nighy as her ageing movie star, this is one of those perfect summer titles.
To check out times and to see what else is on, including a host of Family Saturday Films with activities for the kids, visit courtyard.org.uk/event-type/film and subscribe to our newsletter to get sent film updates.