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Fourteen-hour 'Women Make Film' documentary is an epic take on female directors

In his mammoth documentary, Mark Cousins celebrates the achievements of unheralded women behind the camera, writes Paul Whitington

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Tilda Swinton narrates Women Make Film

Tilda Swinton narrates Women Make Film

Tilda Swinton narrates Women Make Film

When Mark Cousins first appeared on BBC arts shows in the early 1990s, his semi-singalong monotone Ulster accent was easy to lampoon. As a young critic, he tended towards iconoclasm, but I'll tell you something: Cousins' love of cinema is 100pc genuine, his knowledge encyclopaedic, and as a film documentarian, he's illuminated fascinating forgotten corners, as well as exploring sacred cows anew.

His The Story Of Film: An Odyssey (2011) was challenging, engrossing, and in his 2018 documentary The Eyes Of Orson Welles, he found new and challenging things to say about possibly the most intensely analysed film-maker of them all. Cousins does nothing by halves, and in this epic new 14-hour documentary, he endeavours to right a century of industry prejudice and neglect.

Split into relatively manageable three-hour parts that will be released over the coming weeks, Women Make Film is a gargantuan effort of scholarship which sees Cousins weave hundreds of films from across cinema's history into a pleasantly meandering, but more or less coherent argument.