London Film Academy

#WomenWednesday Spotlighting Sarah Gavron

29 December 2021

Our BA (Hons) Filmmaking class of 2021 were lucky enough to receive their undergraduate degree certificates at our LFA Showcase from the formidable British director, Sarah Gavron. So for the final #WomenWednesdays blog instalment of 2021, we’re giving an overview of her career to date, as well as some of the exclusive comments and advice she gave to our graduating students.

Image credits © Danny Cozens 

Hailing from London, UK, Gavron began her filmmaking career in the world of documentary films, after film school, stating that the niche seemed more accessible to a female storyteller at that point in time. Her first narrative film was the TV drama ‘This Little Life’ (2003), which follows the life of a married couple following the premature birth of their son.  

Image credits © The Savannah College of Arts and Design 

Gavron’s first major feature film, ‘Brick Lane’ (2007), is an adaptation of Monica Ali’s novel of the same name, centering around the life of a Bangladeshi, female immigrant who sets up a new life for herself in London. Gavron was nominated for the Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer at the 2008 BAFTA awards for the film, as well as for the Best Director award at the 2007 BIFA ceremony. ‘Brick Lane’ solidified Gavron as one of the most fierce and exciting new voices in British cinema, and allowed her to make her initial marks on the industry. Gavron’s next film, the feature documentary ‘Village at the End of the World’ (2013), was nominated for The Grierson Award in 2013, and won The Margaret Mead Award for documentaries.  

In 2015, Gavron released ‘Suffragette’, a dramatization of the true story of the fight for women’s suffrage in the UK in the early 1900s. Inspired by the real-life accounts and testimonies of women living and working at the time, Gavron was motivated by the power and sincerity of these women, and the class boundaries that were crossed in the journey towards getting the vote for women in the UK. 

Image credits © BBC 

Her most recent feature, ‘Rocks’ (2019) is a coming-of-age drama centered around the life of a Black British teenager living in London. Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, the film was received with international critical acclaim, going on to win five awards at the 2019 BIFA ceremony, and being nominated for seven BAFTAs, including Outstanding British Film. To cast the actors for the film, Gavron went talent scouting in London schools, recruiting a diverse range of young women, most of whom had never acted before. Through this unusual casting process, the film is gifted with a genuine authenticity, and gave a unique opportunity to talented young people who would usually have little access into the film industry. Speaking about the importance of the film’s diverse cast and story, Gavron said: 

Both ‘Suffragette’ and ‘Rocks’ are female-centric narratives that focus on women who have been marginalized by history. With ‘Rocks’, you see those girls on buses or in schools but you rarely see them on screens 20-feet tall or put at the centre of a narrative. We wanted to make a film that young people could connect with and make it in collaboration with them.

Sarah Gavron

 

Image credits © Screencraft 

Gavron has dedicated her career to telling stories about marginalized women from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities. Her fierce determination in centering female voices means that Gavron’s values are perfectly aligned with ours here at LFA. We were lucky enough to have Sarah speak to our diverse cohort of graduating students at our LFA Showcase, hosted at the BFI, Southbank at the end of November. Sarah graciously gave up her time to award our BA students with their certificates, and gave some incredible insights and advice in conversation with Danny Leigh, up on stage inside NFT1. Take a look below at some of the best snippets of what she had to say to our lucky students: 

Collaboration, and versatility, is everything. I think that you can be the Jack, or Jill, of all trades and the master of none, as a director, but it’s worth learning about every single role in the filmmaking process. I see myself on a lifelong learning journey. I still go to acting classes, do little editing exercises, read books and watch new productions. The more you can do, to learn, the better. It’s so vital. I can’t tell you how important that is.

Sarah Gavron

 

Image credits © Danny Cozens 

“As a director, you’re kind of a manger, and you’re motivating your team to do their best work. A film is only as good as the sum of it’s parts. As a director, you’re leading the production, but in a very kind of collaborative way. It’s hugely important to form those strong relationships, and treat people with respect, acknowledge the work, credit the work properly. It just makes everybody happier and it makes the final product better.

Sarah Gavron

 

Image credits © Danny Cozens 

Gavron’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity within the film industry is not just limited to on-screen representation. In 2018, Gavron founded BRIDGE, a collective of film and TV professionals who are working to change the face of the modern day screen industries. BRIDGE aims to give underrepresented talent their first major role within the industry, as well as support them through their ongoing career. They also work with talent agencies and agents, production companies and broadcasters, to provide training and development on how to encourage and sustain diverse casting and crew recruitment within the industry.  

Image credits © Danny Cozens 

Through her storytelling, and her behind the scenes work, Gavron is making a meaningful and positive impact on the film industry. We couldn’t be more proud that our students had the opportunity to hear from Sarah at our Showcase event, and we can’t wait to see what she does next with her formidable career! 

Who would you be interested in us covering next for our #WomenWednesdays series in 2022? Let us know by getting in contact via social media, or emailing us on marketing@londonfilmacademy.com. 

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