• Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017
A quarter of London Film Festival lineup directed by women
Actress Sally Hawkins, left, poses with director Guillermo Del Toro for photographers during the photo call for the film "The Shape of Water" at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
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A quarter of the features in this year's London Film Festival lineup were directed by women, organizers said Thursday as they revealed the schedule for the October extravaganza.

The dearth of female filmmakers at major festivals has drawn much criticism. The Venice Film Festival, running to Sept. 9, has just one woman among 21 directors competing for the main prize.
London, which opens Oct. 4, has done better, with 61 female filmmakers in this year's lineup of 242 films.

The 61st London festival opens with Andy Serkis' based-on-a-true-story "Breathe," and ends Oct. 15 with Martin McDonagh's dark comedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Among the major galas is "Battle of the Sexes," co-directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as tennis opponents Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

Festival director Clare Stewart said the 1970s-set true story is a comic gem, but also "demonstrates how far we haven't come" toward equality for women.

Stewart says the festival lineup is strong on movies that take "inventive and exciting" liberties with genre. They include Guillermo del Toro's fantastical "The Shape of Water," Alexander Payne's sci-fi story "Downsizing" and Yorgos Lanthimos' absurdist "The Killing of a Sacred Deer."

This year's festival will also include discussions on disabilities. Organizers say "the film industry still has a long way to go in terms of representation for disabled people."

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