With “Suffragette” already in the news before its U.S. release on Oct. 23—it opened the 59th BFI London Film Festival last week, and stars Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan stirred up the internet by posing for Time Out London in T-shirts with the suffragette slogan “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”—Tangerine Entertainment presented the film’s director, Sarah Gavron, with its Juice Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival this weekend.
The award is given to female filmmakers for their first or second feature film, and comes with a $1,000 cash prize and five hours of consulting from the production company, which highlights media by women directors. The Juice Fund is sustained entirely by donations from individuals and organizations, in partnership with New York Women in Film & Television.
“Suffragette,” written by Abi Morgan (“The Iron Lady”), features an Oscar-worthy Mulligan as Maud, a 24-year-old laundrywoman who joins the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in the early 20th century; the film also co-stars Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Whishaw. (Streep cameos as wealthy suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, to whom the aforementioned slogan is attributed.) Reviews to this point have been mixed, with Morgan’s screenplay coming in for particular criticism, and recent history suggests that it can be hard to shake off ideological controversies during awards season. Whatever you think of those T-shirts—tone-deaf or taken out of context—the fact remains that off-screen flare-ups can slow, or sink, an Oscar campaign, and it often takes positive news, like the Juice Award, to change the conversation.