Bumble's Female Film Force 2019 Is Funding 5 Epic Short Films & They're All Led By Women

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In 2018, female-friendly dating, friendship, and networking app Bumble launched a fund to give female filmmakers the chance to tell their stories and increase gender equality across the film industry. Now, Bumble's Female Film Force is back for another round. The 2019 shortlist — which was open to women across the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany — has just been announced with storylines involving everything from post-natal depression and modern feminism to the relationship between black women and their hair.

There's a few reasons why such a competition is necessary. As Bumble explains, 73 percent of the winners of the 2019 Oscars were men and only a third of 2019 BAFTA winners were women. Similarly, every Best Director nominee across the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs was male. The issue exists across Europe with only one woman in France receiving the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes in 70 years and female directors heading up only 15 percent of the films shown in German cinemas.

In response to its brief, Bumble received over 1,3000 pitches, proving just how many brilliant female filmmakers deserve a chance in the spotlight. Bumble, WDW Entertainment, and a panel of experts decided on five winners to receive mentorship and a £20,000 investment. Each Female Film Force short film will be made by a team of female directors, writers, and producers with the hope that at least half of the wider production team will be made up of women. Their creative efforts will be shown at an event in January 2020.

With an emphasis on kindness, respect, and equality (as well as diversity), here's everything you need to know about the winning ideas.

1. 'Ma'am'

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Written and directed by Joy Wilkinson and produced by Jude Goldrei (pictured above), Ma'am is described as "a dark, funny, and moving portrait of the original Instamum under pressure." Who is the Instamum in question? None other than Queen Victoria.

The film depicts the monarch's struggles with post-natal depression after giving birth to her ninth child and the emotions she faces head-on when husband Albert proposes a photoshoot to show off their "perfect family." Ma'am will be Wilkinson's directing debut. Kate Reid — a cinematographer with experience on sets including Game of Thrones will also lend a hand as director of photography.

2. 'Sunita'

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Long-time collaborators Joan Iyiola and Chibundu Onuzo (pictured above) are the writers and producers of Sunita: a tale of a young black girl, Dolapo, feeling forced to fit into the stuffy ways of an English boarding school.

She buys a wig to hide her "distracting" natural hair and changes her name to Dolly to make things easier for everyone but herself. But when she "falls into the consciousness" of Sunita, an Indian girl whose hair was used for her wig, she knows who she wants to be. BAFTA-nominated producer Millie Marsh will also be joining the team.

3. Ascending Grace

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A plane full of deeply religious people looking forward to their getaway in Lourdes (the "Catholic Ibiza", according to the filmmakers) doesn't sound like the backdrop for a tense short film. But thanks to the efforts of writer Karen Healy and producer Sharon Cronin (pictured above), Ascending Grace is setting out to be just that.

The Catholic Crowd is sat on a small plane piloted by two very different women: cynical Cara and enthusiastic Maedhbh. Together with flight attendant Sarah, they must find a way to tell the entire plane that they have been grounded. With Healy's background in stand-up comedy, Cronin's memorable production history, and the talents of Irish director Claire Byrne, you won't want to miss it.

4. Et Chaque Nuit

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French animator and comic artist Julie Robert is the director and producer of an animation that has struggled to secure funding due to its focus on mental health. Et Chaque Nuit analyses the relationship between Lea and her girlfriend Maud and the ghostly deer Lea has seen around her since childhood.

Maud doesn't believe they are real, but Lea tries desperately to prove her wrong. As Robert and fellow animation pro Maëva Poupard (pictured above) prove, the deer could be the key to the couple's future. Céline Le Thérisien will also write and line produce the film.

5. Viva La Feminista

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Through their film production company, Noumia Film, Silke Meya and Laura Mentgen aim to dive deep into the lives of everyday people and document them as they really are. Viva La Feminista shows modern feminism through six German children's eyes.

Opinions about topics including respect, empowerment, equality, and kindness in family life will intertwine with cultural, social, religious, and political ideas of feminism and more.

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