Sarah Gavron showed up at the 2016 Athena Film Festival this past Saturday to showcase her new film about the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in 1912. Director of Suffragette, a film starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Meryl Streep, Gavron was in attendance at the festival which promotes women filmmakers, and what better film than one showing how women received the right to vote in England.
We asked Gavron a few questions about the film, about her choices in casting as well as just getting the film made. You can read her answers below and watch the rest of the interview in the video:
You’ve said countless times that you’ve wanted to make this film for a long time.
Yes I’ve wanted to make it for about ten years, it took six years to actually get it off the ground. There had never been a film about the British suffrage movement—it felt like it was overdue in terms in resurrecting the women who changed our course of history, and it also felt timely because the issues women were dealing with then are ongoing issues women are grappling with equal rights still, equal pay, lack of representation in government, with sexual violence, with education, so it felt that it had resonance with the 21st century.
Your choice not to cast a woman of color was also met with some controversy.
Well what we chose to do was tell the story of one group of women of one part of east London in 1912 and in Britain the working class women were white. In America of course you had a similar movement happening differently and that had a very different ethnic makeup because of the different immigration here. Subsequently in the UK we had an immigration that changed the makeup of the movement, but we didn’t at that time.