In January 2013, Russia’s prestigious Bolshoi Ballet company was rocked when its artistic director, former dancer Sergei Filin, was the victim of an acid attack. Documentary maker Nick Read was filming in the country at the time and decided to turn his attention to the troupe as they attempted to get through the season in the aftermath of the scandal.
It’s a testament to the strength of his talent and vision that David O’Russell is readily regarded as one of today’s greatest filmmakers, despite the fact that he has made just seven films – discounting the disowned Accidental Love – in the past two decades. With topics ranging from the opportunities of war (Three Kings) to blue-collar boxing (The Fighter) and the exquisite art of the con (American Hustle), O’Russell’s screenplays demonstrate a colour and eloquence that are expertly serviced by his masterful direction. It’s an exemplary body of work that sets a very high bar; one which his latest, screwball drama Joy, struggles to reach.
Women in film was a hot topic in 2015, both behind and in front of the camera, and there’s no doubt that gender disparity remains a huge problem for the industry. This year has, however, seen a number of filmmakers create strong, memorable and diverse female characters, and I wrote the following piece in celebration of the best of them for the British Independent Film Awards ceremony brochure.