Cover Mark Cousins Still image of Women Make Film (2018) (Courtesy of Dogwoof Ltd.)

British actress Tilda Swinton and Hong Kong film director Mabel Cheung talk about the role of women in cinema as part of Chanel's sponsorship of a film course and screening of documentary Women Make Film at M+ Cinema

“There have always been women filmmakers, from the very beginning of cinema” says actress Tilda Swinton in an introduction to the documentary Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema that was filmed for Chanel.

“We've just not necessarily had our attention put on to the fact and Mark Cousins and myself were very proud to go back into that archive and to put up on the screen exclusively the work of women directors for 11 decades,” continues Swinton of the documentary that she co-produced with filmmaker Mark Cousins. “A woman director is not a rare thing. It’s not a new thing. With Women Make Film, we’re showing you what was always there all along.”

Women Make Film is a 14-hour documentary that was almost two decades in the making. Released in 2018, it explores a wide range of films made by women directors over the span of more than a century across five continents, bringing together 700 clips. It’s a celebration of female filmmakers; a masterclass in movie making. As Swinton states at one point in the voiceover of the documentary itself, “This is a film school of sorts in which all the teachers are women.”

The documentary was at the centre of the one of M+ Cinema’s first programmes, a film course that ran in July and August. The course saw chapters of Women Make Film screened as lessons in filmmaking, after which there were live conversations with local filmmakers on the art and craft on display. The programme was sponsored by Chanel, whose founder Gabrielle Chanel was a keen patron of the arts, particularly cinema. It's a legacy that the brand strives to uphold. 

As part of the programme, Chanel presented a special conversation between Chanel ambassador Tilda Swinton and acclaimed female Hong Kong director Mabel Cheung, who taught on the M+ film course. They discussed the role of women in cinema. Below is an excerpt from their conversation.

The documentary Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema will be screened over seven nights at M+ Cinema from September 21-30.

For more information and tickets, visit

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