The film industry needs more women

Shefali Saxena Wednesday 13th October 2021 05:22 EDT

Sonita Gale's debut film HOSTILE will have its World Premiere at the Raindance Film Festival, screening 29 October at Curzon Hoxton in east London, followed by a digital repeat screening available UK-wide via Curzon Home Cinema. 


Sonita Gale has previously produced several features via her production company Galeforce, including London-set thriller Twenty8K starring Parminder Nagra. Screening at Curzon Hoxton on 29 October, followed by a repeat digital screening available UK-wide via Curzon Home Cinema, this documentary explores how the migrants that Britain once relied on, now facing being expelled - and although Brexit contributes, Covid is a key focus: we see, for example, a doctor who worked on the frontline during the pandemic has now had his licence to work revoked. 


In an exclusive interview with Asian Voice Sonia spoke about filmmaking and its future. 


Q - What goes in your mind while making such a relevant documentary for contemporary times? Especially when it relates and caters to cultures, amid a pandemic,  What kind of research and effort is required?

Coming from a migrant family, it was imperative to make a film that spoke to the issues facing our communities. ‘Hostile’ is a film about the Hostile Environment in the UK, scrutinising immigration policies via politicians, academics, activists, participants and research, to understand their links to our colonial past.  Filming during a pandemic added a layer of risk to production. I needed to be present as issues, policies, and stories evolved, while at the same time ensuring safety for all.

Q - Is it easy being a woman filmmaker in today's times? Are you able to sell your idea and secure the required funding or do you have your own challenges?

It’s been wonderful to see funding opportunities for women expand, but funding was a challenge for multiple reasons, including the film’s topical nature, our intention to create a social impact film, and the fact that I am a debut director. That said, I’m fortunate for opportunities we’ve had to expand our audience, including our Raindance premiere, and speaking with EP Nitin Sawhney at The Royal Albert Hall, which we hope will raise the film’s profile and help with distribution.

Q - Your brief mentions migrants and doctors. What is the real picture? How is their condition different from what we consume from the world wide web where most voices are unheard? Could you describe it to our readers?

Approximately 14% of all NHS workers are migrants. Whilst they’re rightly referred to as the backbone of the institution, this outward celebration masks the hypocrisy inherent in government policies that stigmatise them. This is true for doctors and nurses as much as any other type of migrant workers, and adds a layer of stress and anxiety to their daily lives which is unimaginable given the day-to-day sacrifices their job entails, which we want to bring attention to with our film.

Q - As a filmmaker, how do you juggle your personal and professional life, given the fact that producing and directing any kind of film in the pandemic puts you at high risk of contracting the virus especially if you cater to such subjects?

As a mother of two teenagers, juggling the personal and the professional can be challenging. Complicating matters, I contracted the virus during pre-production on the film, and when I recovered, I broke my ankle which put me out for about 8 weeks. That said, this allowed me to start directing remotely with a small team and learning about the participants’ lives through user-generated content. Through this process, I was fortunate to find a way to find a balance that worked.

Q - In the coming future, would you recommend more women to join this industry? If yes, why?

Yes for sure. I believe the film industry needs more women from any background. Women support women also and I do hope that in the future I too can support women entering the industry as I have been supported with my debut film!


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