Current Season:

Women Aren't Funny

Fri 07 Jun — Thu 25 Jul 2024

The Garden Cinema is launching the summer with a season celebrating 13 films directed & written by women, from different nationalities, spanning from the 1940s to now. All of the films operate in the realm of comedy, boldly stretching and contorting the definition of it.

From the dawn of the film industry, female directors were few, and stories were told through a decisively male perspective. Women had more prominence on the other side of the lens, but were relegated to roles like love interest, seductress… you know the drill. However, there were exceptions to the rule: filmmaking women who managed to produce alternative visions, despite adversity. Their films were subversive, not necessarily because they set out to be, but because they emerged from an outsider position. Bringing a new perspective by default, they challenged societal, film, and gender norms – reframing women’s representation on screen. Comedy’s inherent ability to incorporate diverse perspectives proved the apt medium of expression for these marginalised voices.

It all kicks off on 7 June, with a members’ party featuring Kheski Kobler – an internationally award-winning drag clown and performance artist – before a screening of Dance, Girl, Dance by Dorothy Arzner (1940). A panel discussion will follow the screening, bringing together women curators, actors, and directors to contextualise the historical lack of representation for female filmmakers while celebrating the advances that have been made. 

The season proceeds chronologically:

Week 1 features screenings of The Passionate Stranger by pioneering director Muriel Box (UK, 1957) – an formally experimental and highly satirical takedown of romantic novel tropes.

In Week 2, the season continues with Daisies by Věra Chytilová (Czechoslovakia, 1966), a provocative, Dadaist comedy and milestone of the Czechoslovak New Wave, and The Heartbreak Kid by Elaine May (USA, 1971), a melancholic tale that turns the rom-com genre on its head.

Week 3 features our most controversial choices: the highly divisive Swept Away (Italy, 1974) by Italian iconoclast Lina Wertmüller – the first woman ever nominated for a Best Director Oscar – and the darkly offbeat Sweetie (Australia, 1989), Jane Campion’s first film, which stretches the definition of the genre by veering into thriller territory. We enter July with The Watermelon Woman by Cheryl Dunye (USA, 1996), an iconic film that seamlessly blends romance, comedy, and political themes of Black queer oppression.

Week 4 concludes with Caramel (Lebanon, 2011), a Middle Eastern rom-com that challenges binding cultural traditions whilst celebrating female friendship.

Week 5 opens with Appropriate Behaviour by Desiree Akhavan (UK, 2014), which follows a flawed, messy central character, who grapples to make sense of her LGBTQI+ and Iranian-American identities. After that, we delve into the highly idiosyncratic Toni Erdmann, which takes aim at corporatocracy, and launched Sandra Hüller’s meteoric acting career outside of Germany. 

In weeks 6 & 7, the focus is diasporic narratives, beginning with the hilarious and heartbreaking The Farewell (USA, 2019), a modern classic that explores the joys and dysphoria of cultural tensions. Also screening is Shiva Baby (USA, 2020), a cult gem, where the central character experiences a comical push and pull between her Jewish identity and her bisexuality. The season concludes with the outrageously entertaining Polite Society (UK, 2023), an action film that turns genre etiquette on its head whilst examining the complexities of navigating life as a British-Pakistani teenager.  

Throughout the season, the majority of the films will feature introductions, discussions, and partnership events to help us contextualise them. Please check the individual film pages for full details and keep an eye on the season page, as more screenings and events will be added within the next few weeks.

*All the films will have subtitles, and some will include Descriptive Subtitles to make them accessible for the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. 

Upcoming Screenings

The Passionate Stranger 12A

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). The screening on Sunday 9 June, will be introduced by Professor Melanie… Read More
Muriel Box, UK, 1957, 97m.
Thu 13 Jun
16:00

Daisies 15

All screenings will be shown with English subtitles (not HOH). The screening on Sunday 16 June, will be introduced by filmaker… Read More
Věra Chytilová, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 76m.
Sun 16 Jun
19:30
Thu 20 Jun
16:00

The Heartbreak Kid PG

All screenings of will be shown with English subtitles (not HOH). The screening on Thursday 20 June, will be introduced by… Read More
Elaine May, USA, 1972, 105m.

Swept Away 18

Content warning: The film contains scenes of violence, sexual assault and graphic/explicit language that some might find triggering. The screening on… Read More
Lina Wertmüller, Italy, 1974, 114m.
Sun 23 Jun
19:00
Tue 25 Jun
15:30

Sweetie 15

The film will be screened with Descriptive Subtitles. The screening on Wednesday 26 June, will be introduced by film critic Laura Venning.… Read More
Jane Campion, Australia, 1989, 99m.
Wed 26 Jun
20:30
Tue 02 Jul
15:30

The Watermelon Woman 15

All screenings will be shown with English subtitles (not HOH). The screening on Sunday 30 June, will be introduced by Aude… Read More
Cheryl Dunye, USA, 1996, 84m.
Sun 30 Jun
19:15
Thu 04 Jul
16:00

Caramel PG

The screening on July 3rd, will be introduced by  Abla Kandalaft.  A discussion will proceed after the screening between her and… Read More
Nadine Labaki, Lebanon, 2007, 95m.
Wed 03 Jul
20:30
Wed 24 Jul
16:00

Appropriate Behaviour 15

All screenings will be shown with English subtitles (not HOH). The screening on Sunday 7 July will be followed by a… Read More
Desiree Akhavan, UK, 2014, 86m.
Sun 07 Jul
19:00
Thu 11 Jul
16:00

Toni Erdmann 15

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). Writer-director Maren Ade’s tragi-comedy is as continually surprising, hilarious, exasperating and bizarrely… Read More
Maren Ade, Germany, 2016, 162m.
Tue 09 Jul
15:00
Thu 11 Jul
19:45

Arugula Ruchelach, Aperol Schvitz + Shiva Baby 18

After the enthusiastic response following our Pickle Tasting event, we're thrilled to welcome back our friends at Shedletsky's Deli for another tasty… Read More
Emma Seligman, USA, 2020, 77m.
Fri 12 Jul
20:00

The Farewell PG

All screenings will be shown with English Subtitles (not HOH). The screening on Sunday July 14 will be followed by a… Read More
Lulu Wang, USA, 2019, 100m.
Sun 14 Jul
19:00
Thu 18 Jul
15:30

Shiva Baby 15

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). Shiva Baby is a cult gem, where the central character experiences a comical… Read More
Emma Seligman, USA, 2020, 77m.
Wed 17 Jul
16:00

Polite Society 12A

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). The screening on Sunday July 21 will be followed by a Q&A… Read More
Nida Manzoor, UK, 2023, 104m.
Sun 21 Jul
19:00
Thu 25 Jul
15:30

Past Screenings

Dance, Girl, Dance PG

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). You can find details of the first screening, which is part of… Read More
Dorothy Arzner, USA, 1940, 89m.
This screening has now passed.

The Passionate Stranger 12A

All screenings will be shown with Descriptive Subtitles (HOH). The screening on Sunday 9 June, will be introduced by Professor Melanie… Read More
Muriel Box, UK, 1957, 97m.
This screening has now passed.

Burlesque + Dance, Girl, Dance + panel discussion 18

Join us for the launch of Women Aren't Funny, a season celebrating 13 films directed & written by women, from different… Read More
Dorothy Arzner, USA, 1940, 210m.
This screening has now passed.