New review: Joanna Hogg, a very British outsider


The work of Joanna Hogg was selected to feature in the recent BFI season Made in Britain, focusing on British women filmmakers. Her cinematic (as distinguished from television and promotional) output comprises two feature films only, Unrelated and Archipelago.

When Unrelated, her debut feature, won the prestigious FIPRESCI award at the 2007 London Film Festival, some critics were musing “where she has been all these years”… a directorial debut at 47 remains a bit of an industry oddity, even more so in case of a woman director.

Reviewing both films for The F-Word, Selina Robertson of Club des Femmes argues that Hogg’s decision to take as much time as she needed to shoot her first film really paid off:

Keeping creative control of her filmmaking is of vital importance [to Joanna Hogg]. Both films have been funded independently, on small budgets (“so there are less people to tell me what to do”, she says). This is striking because a good majority of British films shot in the UK have come out of the Film Council’s sausage factory; true independent cinema is a rare beast.

Selina eloquently argues that this creative independence is not the only feature marking the director as outsider in the British filmmaking context.

Gritty social (and especially working-class) realism of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, but also of Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay, has long been proud content behind the ‘Made in Britain’ quality mark; Joanna Hogg tackles upper-middle class existence. British filmmakers like to change the focus of every new film substantially; Hogg is treading the path of European auteur(e) cinema and revisits virtually the same scene in her second film. And that is precisely why, says Selina, the British cinematic landscape would be impoverished without her contributions.

Please click here to read Selina’s review and comment.

The photo is a still from Archipelago, courtesy of BFI.