We ask the director of the programme and a gender equality film campaigner whether they think this is a problem

When the BFI London Film Festival begins next week, a quarter of the films shown will be directed by women.

This follows the release of statistics from the new BFI Filmography, a database of over 10,000 UK films, that only seven percent of films since 2000 have had a majority female crew.

The festival takes place from October 4 and runs until October 15, with 242 feature films originating from 67 countries.

BFI London Film Festival director Clare Stewart told The Video Mode: “More than 60 women directors are represented in our feature film line-up which is 25% of our overall programme.

“This is much better than the commercial marketplace where 13.8% of films released theatrically in the UK last year were directed by women.

“We are committed to creating positive change, but that needs to start with financiers, studios, commissioning executives and producers, the people who are making decisions about what films get made.”

The films in the headline galas and special presentations of the programme include Valerie Faris’ co-directed film Battle of the Sexes, which follows the iconic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, alongside Sally Potter’s The Party and Dee Rees’ Mudbound.

13.8% of films released theatrically in the UK last year were directed by women

The figure is also higher than that of this year’s Venice Film Festival, which included just one female directed film out of 21 in their competition segment.

However, some commentators have pointed out that this figure is not high enough.

Ali Bailey, head of campaigning at Directors UK, said: “I don’t think aspiration for a festival or for an organisation should be shaped necessarily by what others are doing and the status quo because otherwise we’d never get anywhere.

“So while it might be better than some other festivals, which is to be commended, I think in this country we’re meant to have some of the best discrimination and gender equality legislation in place and therefore the BFI could also be leading that in terms of globally what it seems to do.

“They’re doing a bit but, of course, we could all be doing more.”

Ms Bailey works for Directors UK, a professional association of directors which conducted research in the UK film industry of 2,500 UK films to reveal the impact of race, gender and class on the difficulty of becoming a filmmaker in the UK.

She added: “It identified that women do want to make films and become filmmakers. When you look at the students coming out university, it’s 50:50 so this not about a poverty of aspiration, this is about opening up an industry.”

Do you think the statistics from the BFI London Film Festival are a step in the right direction or that more still needs to be done? Let us know in the comments below.