Hailee Steinfeld’s feisty performance in True Grit has just reminded us that the Wild West shouldn’t be seen as an exclusively male preserve. So it’s fitting that the Birds Eye View Film Festival, great champion of women filmmakers, should be showcasing Kelly Reichardt’s acclaimed new Western Meek’s Cutoff at the BFI Southbank tonight.
Reichardt, maker of indie favourites Old Joy and Wendy & Lucy, has taken inspiration from the original diaries of women on the pioneer trails to 19th-century Oregon for her story, which follows what happens when three families become lost as they seek to cross the Cascade Mountains. How far should they trust the mountain man they have hired to guide them?
The Birds Eye View team have cannily programmed another woman-centred Western as part of tonight’s festival lineup – Victor Sjostrom’s classic silent melodrama The Wind, which stars Lillian Gish as a frontier woman battling bad weather and bad men.
And if you go to the screening of Meek’s Cutoff, be sure to stay for the Q&A with Shirley Henderson, who stars as one of the settler women. (Henderson’s on the left in the picture above, and that’s Michelle Williams peeking out from under a bonnet on the right, standing next to Zoe Kazan.)
The Wind, BFI Southbank, 6.10pm Wed 9 March
Meeks’ Cutoff, BFI Southbank, 8.20pm Wed 9 March
Meek’s Cutoff is released by Soda Pictures on 15 April.